Having lived and worked in three different countries, over a dozen years in each, learned a foreign language in order to compete on their level, been a pilot, sailor, diver, and having passed every exam known to man in my industry, I feel quite qualified to make some observations about the situation in the Virgin Islands (14 years on St. Croix). One would think that with a budget of $749 million for a population of ca. 130,000, we would have streets paved in gold, or at least no potholes. Where does all the money go? Why can't some of the needed improvements be taken care of? Why is there so much waste? There is too much jawboning, and very little action.
What I see is that so many are focused on their own menial existences that they do not recognize the world is passing them by. There are those who want to keep the status quo and resist change. That is extremely short-sighted. The one thing you can count on in life is change, and to resist it can only lead to one's demise. So much wealth has been created around the world and that wealth is looking for a home (bargain). That bargain can be found in the Virgin Islands, especially, St. Croix. We have already seen the beginning of that transition, and in my view, it will accelerate. Unless those who have been voted into office to represent us, and the masses themselves, get active, that wealth will continue to move to our islands and overwhelm us to the extent that the average resident will not be able to live here. The current attitude is not conducive to competing in the global arena.
I envision prime waterfront properties, currently occupied by the likes of WAPA and government subsidized housing projects, bulldozed to make room for resorts, casinos, theme parks, etc. Since our local government cannot take care of the crime situation, mercenaries will be brought in to rectify the situation.
In the years I have been here, complaints about education, crime, and tourism have achieved nothing. It's time people wake up and take action. It all starts with education. Children learn by example. It is not what you say; it is what you do. They are not fools; they see through you in a skinny minute. Are you a good example?
Eliminating crime should be a given. Those bleeding hearts who think that criminals have rights should get a life. Criminals' lives should be made so miserable that they would not even think about getting into trouble again. Most of the atrocious crimes are committed by repeat offenders, so deter them after the first offense. I do recognize that crime is a job creation program, but I also believe without it we could progress at a much faster rate.
We live in Paradise! Can you imagine how tourism would flourish if they came to our islands and encountered well-educated people, interested in their well-being, and no crime?
These changes are not impossible, but it will take some unified action. If we cannot count on our government, then we must move on our own. It can be done… In the years I have been on the island, children have started pre-school and have in the meantime graduated from high school. If the powers that be had done their jobs, those children would have not have been involved in the school riots we have witnessed recently. Crime has increased, tourism sucks, and our young are not getting a proper education. Those we entrusted with the positions to make changes have failed us. We must take action!
Let's put that $749 million to better use!
Richard C. McPherson
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