Bermuda Fables

"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." – Charles De Gaulle

Budget Day 2010 February 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 2:22 am

Okay, I’ve always been taught that a budget is a tool that allows you to better know where your money is going to as well as allow you to figure out  the best way to amp up your savings… REALLY wishing right now that my gov’t had been given the same lesson. Sigh.

Okay, if you’re at all a person who reads the blogs or any bermudian media online sites (and I’m guessing that’s how you stumbled across this mishmash of comedic musings), then you know that the 2010 budget was read out this morning by the Finance Minister, Paula Cog… um, sorry, Cox. Thanks “Lets”, I’m trying to be serious here. But anyhoo, back to what I was saying… which was… oh yes, WTF?

I haven’t read it completely word for word but I did read as much as I could in between bouts of calling my mom to see if I happened to have any rich relatives that were planning on going belly up and giving me some much needed money. “Are you sure? You’re not adopted and didn’t tell me? Cause you look like a Gates, I’ve always thought so, you know.” Okay, I’m done. But seriously. There were some good things about this budget and some meh things… and then some, what were you thinking things.

I’ll admit, the rise in car licensing fees while personally something I will abhor come birthday time is kinda understandable. Mind, most of the working class people are the ones with cars (just more of them by definition) but hey, this might make people choose to get smaller cars and that’s always a plus for the environment and congestion, ish. The payroll tax exemption for the taxi drivers is a great thing. They, as an industry, has been hit hard with the decrease of tourist dollars. And I don’t suspect too many fisherman will be showing up at the open mics to shout at the premier. And I’m really glad the cops got an increase in their budget. Rumours abounded that she was decreasing them but that would have royally irked me. In this current sitch we find ourselves in with the increase in criminal behaviour, namely gangs and shootings, we need to give as much support to the people willing to put theirs lives on the line to protect us – whether it be personal, community and/or monetarily.

Now the not so great. Firstly, how the (excuse my french) EFF are we decreasing the Education budget by 4%?? And to increase the MoTT (tourism and transport, not apple juice) / Cabinet office by 10%?? And to raise the payroll tax on us by 2%?? Man, I’m running out of question marks and I haven’t even gotten to the allowing of pension plans to be effectively looted (and no, that’s NOT the gov’t one… the personal one).I’d get upset about the raise in Foreign Currency Exchange Tax as that really only affects those who are paid in bermudian dollars, ie, bermudians… as most expats in IB can be paid in US dollars, but luckily for my blood pressure we weren’t informed by how much it will be increasing. I’ll save that blow up for later, shall I?

Education. SIGH. Okay, so we are having issues with graduation rates and it’s a widespread view that education is pretty much the social issue on this island that affects just about every negative and, yes positive, social issue. So, what do we do, we take money from them. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are probably quite a few areas we can cut back on in the MoE, like, I’da know, *cough* consultants.  But your budget usually indicates level of support. And I’m sorry, cutting that budget when you’re increased the entire budget by 9% and some ministries by even more? Not very important to you or at least it seems that way.

MoTT/Cabinet. Wow… just wow. I’m not sure I even know where to start. Well, the Cabinet. Not totally sure what they do besides release those YouTube videos (youtube/105frontstreet or something like that?) so meh. Maybe they really need the money. Transport. Again, besides having a car and enjoying the fumes of our buses whenever I’m stuck behind them in Hamilton, not really my thing. Tourism now, *grin*, I kinda got an opinion or two on that one. I’d like to quote myself and say, WTF? Okay, tourism is (supposedly) the second tier of our economy. I get that. But again, your budget shows support. So the mangling the tourism product has been given over that last couple of years is not only fully but increasingly supported by our “government”. Right. I’d love to work at a job that my client base decreased exponentially year over year, mostly regardless of outside influence, yet I was given raise over raise year after year. Can I buy THAT for a dollar? (A: not in Bermuda, not anymore anyway, unless you are on the F&F plan of course).

Payroll Tax. Yeah, this one pissed me right off. No, I know, it’s not all that much. I mean, it does mean my payroll tax has increased by 20%  but that’s just moneyspeak. It doesn’t mean anything in real money… oh wait. The biggest issue I have with this is that the government is going on and on about the recession we’re in and they decide to raise taxes on us? Riiight. The ironic thing, the title of the Budget is Road to Recovery… Yeah, I just wanna know, whose. the governments or ours? Cause I can tell you, taking more money from us when things are already tight is certainly not going to make my recovery better or faster. It will, however, fill the governments coffers quite well. And apparently they need the money. There are so many things wrong with this picture. I won’t even get into how prohibitive payroll tax raises are on new incorporations of IB businesses. And I could get into the pension thing but even I’m bored of both the topic and me talking.

Face it, this wasn’t a horrible budget… had it not come at a time that everyone is desperately looking to the government for some clarity on how the year ahead should look/be handled. And the answer evidently is spend whether you’ve got it or not… and take candy from babies mouths. LOL

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“Gambling” on a fix… February 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 1:24 pm

for tourism…

Yep, it appears to be this time again. The Gaming Bill is apparently, with the eager help of the Premier, trying to rear its head again. The premier invited another foreign… expert (?), consultant (?)… down to explain how well gambling/casinos  have done in their neck of the woods. Which is grand. Bully for them. However, this ain’t their neck of the woods. It’s ours. And what works for one jurisdiction cannot work the same for another. Different places, different hurdles, hell… different tourists! Face it, the same people that will choose to venture over to Nova Scotia to have a quick gamble are not the same ones who will fly to Bermuda.

Which leads me to a bit of side tangent… ASK US! This over-reliance on every other person on earth’s opinion as compared to taking the time out to ask the people most affected by issues in Bermuda is idiotic. You want to know what would make Bermuda a better destination or what we currently do that DOES keep people coming back, stop asking Joe Blow “Axpert” from Timbuktoo and start asking us. Us bermudians, us residents, us businessmen travellers, us current tourists. Listen to us… or at least pretend to care what we think. Seriously. Some of us are starting to get complexes. Occasionally I wonder if I’m actually a figment of my own imagination…

But anyhoo, back to regular programming. I’ve an idea. Let’s just table the gambling issue for a minute. Tourism is obviously in a bit of a jam. Some would like us to believe that we only have two options… we simply go back to what worked in the 60s (which won’t work) or we scrap it all and go for something completely new, and it appears, americanized. But there actually is a third. The british conservatism of our hey day modernized. We remember what made us great before, why people starting coming here and we make it even better. Focus on who we actually are and revel in that. Stop trying to make us more like “them”, be us and make them want to visit. Quiet, muted elegance. Focus on the businessmen who travel here anyway and ramp up big time our spa facilities for their wifes/significant others. Re-do front street as a walking area with high end bistros and boutiques. Focus on high end (and yes smaller) cruise ships for Hamilton and St. Georges. Pour some money into Dockyard and “touristize” that for the mega ships. Face it, 60% of those tourists don’t want to see anything but a beach… provided they don’t have to pay for anything… and a couple of souvenir stores so they can tell their mates at home they “saw” Bermuda. So give them what they want. And give our tourists that want to spend money our our economy what they want. Pour money into the historicalness of St Georges and open some more museums, some historical re-enactments. Hell, pump money into a world class film festival and stick it down there (… um, when there’s an actual hotel there, I guess). A little bit of British conservatism and European chicness in the middle of the atlantic. So many ideas on how to make us more us and they’d rather listen to EVERYONE ELSE. Sigh.

D’ahwell. I don’t know why I’m worrying. We did get Beyonce after all…