By C ben-David

Apart from juvenile argumentum ad hominem logical fallacy attacks impugning my motives, character, nationality, patriotism, and sanity, those who have taken issue with the contents of my Argyle International Airport articles (see essays listed below) have repeatedly raised the same three criticisms: (1) Why have you been so negative about the country’s tourism prospects? (2) Why did you jump in so late in the game – nine years after the Prime Minister’s 2005 announcement that he was going to build Argyle International Airport (AIA) — to damn the project? and (3) What alternatives to the government’s tourism strategy rooted in the completion of AIA are you able to offer?

Conversely, except for a few trivial errors, my facts and interpretations have received only one credible, albeit facile, counter: only time will tell whether AIA was worth building.

As for the first criticism, my essays were not “negative” in the sense of damning the airport project on spurious or propagandist grounds. To be sure, I have clearly stated that I believe AIA was conceived and constructed for political gain rather than economic advancement, a good a reason to be “negative” or cynical about public policy decisions in SVG as anywhere else in the world. Moreover, being “negative” about St. Vincent Island’s (SVI) mass tourism prospects is to realistically and objectively recognize the paucity of desirable visitor attractions on the mainland compared to hundreds of competing worldwide destinations. On the other hand, though a mainlander, I have been positively exuberant about the present and future prospects of tourist development in our enchanting Grenadines, which negates any argument of being unfairly negative about our country as a whole.

The second criticism is even easier to address. I simply wasn’t paying much attention to the construction of AIA between 2005 and 2014, only awakened from my intellectual slumber when I read a brilliant essay by respected engineer Herbert “Haz” Samuel (http://www.iwnsvg.com/2014/09/09/a-story-worth-telling-a-review-of-the-argyle-international-airport-project/ ) that made my blood boil and stirred me to write my first essay which lead to a second piece, then a third, and so on, as my interest and research deepened.

 

Answering the third criticism is more difficult although I could simply dismiss it by referring to my previous assertion, repeatedly made, that SVI has little developmental potential. In other words, asking me, “So, what would you have done instead?” or “So, where do we go from here?” as several critics have done, is what is called a “loaded question” logical fallacy because it contains the groundless assumption that there are actually things we could do on the mainland to become a far wealthier nation. Demanding that I spell these out is akin to asking me, “So, when did you stop beating your wife?” which illogically (and, in my case, falsely) claims that I have rained licks on her in the past.

Similarly, my reply to those who have said that being against AIA is being against the development of our tourist industry are guilty of the related “either-or” logical fallacy: if you are not tall, you must be short; if you are not rich, you must be poor.

Rather than addressing all the logical fallacies of my adversaries, I offer instead a retrospective alternative to the question, “So, where do we go from here?” by reluctantly addressing the “So, what would you have done instead?” rebuke and accompanying forceful reminder that what is done – the construction of AIA — can never be undone with the counter-argument that the study of the past carries important lessons for the future. To be sure, this is a tepid argument in our little country because we learned nothing from other failed projects such as the Kingstown central market, the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard, and, most importantly, in this case, the James F. Mitchell International Airport.

Ironically and indirectly, my critics also include the hapless leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) who flip-flopped on their longstanding opposition to AIA’s construction on the eve of the 2010 election after belatedly realizing that most of our people badly wanted a new airport. This about-face, actually a full bore retreat, is clearly seen in the Party’s 2015 election manifesto, only just deleted from its Internet site, which promised that, “… we have had discussions with several interested investors and can now state that … [a] major international construction group will partner with the NDP to finally get the Argyle Airport into a state of readiness … [and] A major international development group will build a 1,000 unit integrated residential and hotel resort complex on St. Vincent,” presumably at Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope because there is no other site on the mainland for a project that would have made the Pace Developments Inc. enterprise look like small change.

Example of a “loaded question” logical fallacy: Damned either way.

Suddenly, in October 2016 there was yet another about-face and retreat when the NDP rebranded itself as ultra-nationalistic environmentalists by strongly opposed the sale of a bit of land to Pace at the same Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope site previously earmarked for their own proposed resort development requiring the alienation to foreigners of at least three times the amount of precious Crown land (see essay number 35).

Unlike the flat-footed and hypocritical NDP, I have no good answers to the issue of rescuing our nation from the money-sucker AIA has been since its conception, a financial drain that will never end. This is because we are stuck with this boondoggle till Kingdom come and the Rapture, if only because the Prime Minister will do what any embattled general does as doomsday appears on the horizon: figuratively burn all his bridges behind him by literally bulldozing E. T. Joshua International Airport to the ground to halt any retreat from the compulsory use of AIA. Though this might make good sense for his political legacy, even a negative one, without Arnos Vale as a fallback, we would be slowly but painfully devoured by the monster at Argyle as it sucks the lifeblood out of our economy.

In short, it is much easier to give a hypothetical “what if” answer – what could we have done instead of building AIA — rather than a “where do we go from here” reply to our AIA dilemma. This may be done by suggesting how the monies bad-spent on AIA could have been more productively used elsewhere, an examination which requires understanding the simple economic concept called “opportunity cost,” a notion I have already briefly described (see essay 15).

The opportunity cost of an economic choice — in this case, the decision to build AIA with borrowed funds, donated monies, in-kind labour and material contributions, and the sale of Crown lands as opposed to doing different things with the same cash and similar inputs — is the net comparative value of the best forgone alternative(s).

For example, if the net revenue of building AIA (all direct and allied costs, including loan interest payments, minus spin-off tourism and allied multiplier benefits) were a hypothetical $EC 50 million per year while the comparable gain using the same financial resources on alternative ventures were $EC 75 million per year, the opportunity cost – the financial benefit forgone of building AIA — would be $EC 25 million per annum.

This is a truly an Alice-in-Wonderland example. In the real world of cutthroat international hospitality competition, all I have written in these essays suggests that AIA is doomed to yield our economy a net annual revenue loss of tens of millions of dollars which, in turn, would be dwarfed by the opportunity cost of more credible but forgone alternative projects.

So, regardless of the fact that we are stuck with AIA, what could we have done instead with the same resources? This is the subject of my next essay.

***

This is the 64th in a series of essays on the AIA folly. My other AIA essays are listed below:

  1. Get ready for a November election!
  2. Lessons for Argyle Airport from Canada’s Montreal–Mirabel Int’l
  3. Lessons for Argyle Int’l Airport from the cruise industry
  4. Lessons from Target Canada for Argyle Int’l Airport
  5. Lessons from Trinidad & Tobago for Argyle Int’l Airport
  6. The Dark Side of Tourism: Lessons for Argyle Airport
  7. Why Argyle Won’t Fly: Lessons from Dominica
  8. Ken Boyea and the Phantom City at Arnos Vale
  9. Airport Envy Vincy-Style
  10. Fully realising our country’s tourism potential
  11. Airport without a cause
  12. The unnatural place for an international airport
  13. The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
  14. False patriotism and deceitful promises at Argyle
  15. Airport politics and betrayal Vincy-Style
  16. Phony airport completion election promises, Vincy-style
  17. Is Argyle Airport really a ‘huge game-changer for us?’
  18. Has the cat got your tongue, Prime Minister?
  19. More proof that Argyle won’t fly
  20. Our very own Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
  21. The missing Argyle Airport feasibility studies
  22. The world’s four most amazing abandoned airports
  23. Farming, fishing, and foolish talk about Argyle International Airport
  24. Argyle Airport amateur hour
  25. Vincent’s place in the world of travel
  26. Investing in St. Vincent’s Tourism Industry
  27. The Argyle Airport prophecy: what the numbers say
  28. Why Qatar? Why St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
  29. Did the IMF drink the Comrade’s Kool-Aid?
  30. Foolish words about Argyle International Airport
  31. ‘If I come, you will build it’: Lessons from the Maldives for Argyle Airport
  32. Urban lessons for Argyle International Airport
  33. Who really lands at Arnos Vale?
  34. No ticky, No washy — Argyle-Style
  35. We have met the Vincentian tourism enemy and he is us
  36. Hotel Saint Vincent
  37. Why St. Vincent Island has so few tourists 
  38. Why Bequia is a gem of the Antilles
  39. Why seeing is believing in the Caribbean tourism industry
  40. St. Vincent’s cruise ship numbers are much lower than we think
  41. Lessons from Barbados for Argyle Airport
  42. Cuba’s tourism rollercoaster: Lessons for Argyle Airport
  43. What the world teaches Black Sands Resort and Villas
  44. Not all Argyle Airport critics are ‘internet crazies’
  45. The media’s take on the opening of Argyle Airport
  46. Why Roraima Airways? Lessons for Argyle Airport
  47. Our Argyle International Airport ‘veritable miracle’
  48. From ‘poppy show’ to campaign rally: The Argyle Airport opening
  49. St. Vincent’s 2016 tourism numbers are nothing to brag about
  50. Going forward or marching in place? Lessons for Argyle airport
  51. The Visible Hand of Adam Smith at Argyle International Airport
  52. St. Vincent Island doesn’t need any more hotel rooms
  53. Lessons from St Lucia and Grenada for AIA
  54. Is Air Canada also a ‘huge game-changer’ for AIA?
  55. St. Vincent’s mainland tourist attractions
  56. How St. Vincent’s tourist attractions stack up lessons for AIA
  57. Lessons from Guyana for AIA
  58. The world’s best tourist islands: Lessons for AIA
  59. Explaining Argyle airport on St. Vincent Island 
  60. Explaining Argyle airport: A clash of axioms
  61. Questions and answers about the Argyle airport puzzle
  62. More questions and answers about the Argyle airport puzzle
  63. Explaining Argyle Airport: Concluding remarks

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

4 replies on “A ‘loaded question’ logical fallacy: Argyle Airport’s legacy”

  1. I did not hear that as soon as the Airport in Grenada opened , there were
    Airlines flying to Grenada with regularity , especially from the United States .
    My understanding is that there are certain procedures that have to be followed regarding direct Commercial Flights to & from the USA . However , Chartered
    Flights from the USA , are exempted from this Rule .

    My understanding is that Flights from Canada & the U.K can travel direct to the AIA . My take is that it will take at least about 2 to 3 years before the AIA is bustling . I have heard that Flights from Canada via Air Canada will be coming regularly to the AIA in December this year .

    When that happens your Doom & Gloom rantings will hopefully be evaporated , but I aint about to hold my breath . I have absolutely no doubt that If you lived in the Diaspora You would have a very different perspective from those of us
    who live in the Diaspora .

    What I have written before regarding the treatment meted out to those who are in transit at the Grantley Adams Airport travelling to SVG is definitely not
    a figment of my Imagination . I personally can write a book of my experiences
    in Barbados .

    YOU however are not troubled by that , when you pen your Rantings regarding the AIA . I invite you to be a Real Journalist and ask those who have been in transit at the Grantley Adams Airport their experiences there ; I
    am fully confident that most if not all of them will agree with my assessment .

    TELLING PEOPLE THAT LIAT TRAVELLING TO SVG IS FULL WHEN IN

    FACT THAT WAS A BLATANT LIE , HAS BEEN THE MODUS OPERANDI

    FOR YEARS , WHEN THE TRUTH IS THAT THIS ACT WAS DELIBERATELY

    DONE SO THAT PEOPLE CAN OVERNIGHT IN BARBADOS .

    Then they use another tactic , so that Passengers are not on Standby ,causing more delays in Barbados . The fact that You own this Newspaper
    does not mean that what YOU write is accurate . But it seems that You have a Fixation regarding the Argyle International Airport .

    You in your capacity as a Journalist ,are definitely treated differently from those of us who have to deal with the insufferable persons at the Grantley
    Adams Airport . WE are those who have to deal with the Louts in Barbados .
    I am very sure that most if not all Persons who have to be in transit at the
    Grantley Adams Airport will agree with my assessment .

    Frankly the AIA is here , and will not become a white Elephant , so do us All
    a favour and cease & desist from ranting negative Comments about the AIA .
    Apparently you believe that your egotistical rantings will have an adverse effect on the AIA , which is here , You and Others need to recognize this fact
    and stop bad mouthing the AIA .

  2. It seems that the Author of these Negative Articles has never ever been hassled at the Sir Grantley Adams Airport , which in my opinion is akin to being a Country in the Island of Barbados . Its main objective was & is to subject Persons in Transit to all types of Machiavellian tactics designed to
    make those in transit overnight in Barbados , by using various methods , sadly the People at LIAT are in the hub of these activities .

    One of their main modus operandi is to tell in transit passengers that the plane going to SVG is filled , when that is a blatant Lie . I have been in transit
    at the Sir Grantley Adams on numerous occasions , so I know their modus Operandi .

    Despite this being a known fact , the Author of these Rantings is seemingly indifferent to the Plight of those of us who have to be at the mercy of the insufferable Louts at the Sir Grantley Adams Airport . Quite frankly the current & future benefits of the AIA vastly outnumber criticisms of the Argyle
    International Airport .

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