One of my favorite professors in college, Al Goffin, used to say that history is a long line of "isms." From feudalism to mercantilism to communism and capitalism, "isms" define both our past and our present. In the Virgin Islands, it seems that our government has perfected "cronyism."
Recently, when gubernatorial candidate Michael Bornn accused the current government and past governments of corruption, some past and present government officials took great offense at the charge. I found this reaction amazing. As a matter of fact, I believe that those most offended should have kissed Mr. Bornn for such a marvelous compliment.
Why? Simply put, our territory is a mess. It has been a mess for a long, long time. Today, on my way to work, I had to stop once more and take photographs of raw sewage flowing on Old Hospital Road, again. Sewage, unfortunately, has become a focal point of my job.
However, the problems do not cease with sewage. We have the dubious honor of being the only place that I know of with a dump that can produce a 30-foot wall of flames while only collecting the rubbish of 45,000 or so people. That level of flame means that our dump is a monument to mismanagement.
Topping the list of infamy is our per capita murder rate. At times. it seems as if getting killed in the Virgin Islands is not too difficult an affair. If a person lives in the right neighborhood, getting killed is an easy affair. We should also remember the amazing number of armed robberies that occur in our territory, no easy task to accomplish with so few people.
Our government has chased businesses away by the droves. The only publicity we seem to get internationally makes us shudder. We have to leave to get serious medical care. I could go on for pages.
So, when Mr. Bornn leveled the charge of corruption, the government officials should have just accepted it. What other argument could they put forward? Should they have argued that they were too stupid to solve these problems? Should they have pleaded incompetence?
"Cronyism" is a means of concentrating power into the hands of a few for their benefit. When one considers the plight of the Virgin Islands, one should question who really is benefitting from our current government's efforts. I would wager that it is not most of us. The most important question for all of us is this: Who will we wager on this November? I know how I will be betting.
Editor's note: Bill Turner, executive director of the St. Croix Environmental Association, was formerly a teacher and vice principal at the high school level in Puerto Rico.
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