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HomeNewsArchivesSEEING A WAY OUT OF THE FISCAL ABYSS, DIMLY

SEEING A WAY OUT OF THE FISCAL ABYSS, DIMLY

Dear Source,
As Dim and Dumb fall into a fiscal crisis and the ways out seem insurmountable and too difficult to comprehend, Dim tells Dumb that salvation rests with more taxes and a bigger debt. Dumb agrees, never having had to think because Dim did all the thinking for both of them. So, they go on with the only way out that they understand: float the economy in a sea of debt.
But then one day, the bigness of it all hits the fan and all are smeared with the stain. Unable to pay the interest and never touching the principal, they see the lenders close the loan window. What to do? How about a big federal bailout? How about selling our future? How about taxing the food we eat? How about ignoring it all and just hope it all goes away!
Then Dim had a revelation and started thinking like a business person. Instead of jeopardizing our future, he considered working out of this debt by creative endeavors and hard work. No more floats, just enterprising efforts aimed at building instead of borrowing.
Dim reasoned: What ever happened to the marine industry which used to operate at over a $100 million a year in the '80s? How can we get them back? Wisely, Dim invited to his office a task force of marine enthusiasts and asked, "What can we do?" Look at the British Virgin Islands enjoying the boating world, making money, paying bills and learning hospitality. While St. John, a perfect example of the USVI's lack of love for the sea, has no marinas, not even a dock in Coral Bay, which is one of the deepest and safest harbors in the Caribbean.
Just think what a difference having a marina at the new Enighed Pond commercial port would be — as was planned, but stopped by the Port Authority. It would have created revenues, jobs, provisioning, charters, etc. The Enighed Pond harbor could be one of the safest ports in a hurricane; what a benefit that would be to the boating industry. These islands have the world's best boating, and we get little benefit from it. Let's revive this industry where "if you build it, they will come."
What about getting the BVI to enter into a one-enterprise zone partnership with the USVI which could benefit the all of the Virgin Islands? No more customs, in and out, after the first clearing. Imagine the freedom of enjoying these waters without exhaustive and expensive clearings.
Of course, we would have to convince the BVI to join in the enterprise zone concept, because they have all the boating now. For over a decade, they have taken away our marine industry as we pushed it out the door. However, being sister islands, they could be convinced that this is good for them, as well. People and commerce between our islands will be greatly enhanced.
Then Dim, thrilled by considering something other than debt and taxes as a recovery plan, started to think about all the cars parked all over the government property. What about parking meters? Counting all the parking lots, the streets and the fields, there must be about 10,000 parking spots. Dim reasoned, if we put in parking meters, and each meter earned on average $5 a day, the territory could earn $50,000 a day, $1.5 million a month, $18 million a year. And what about parking tickets?
Then he thought about the many vehicles which have been parked forever which would move on, thus opening up spaces so customers could get to the stores so the cash registers could ring louder, bringing in more revenues and taxes. A lack of parking and terrible congestion keeps customers away. Many of us try to avoid our towns just to stay out of the mess.
Another area that Dim thought about was the need to change from a government whose motto is "a government for some of the people some of the time" to even-handedness for all its people. Think of all the sweetheart deals out there. Ever heard of $1-a-year rent? It's time to review and make sure that things are for a fair price. Not a sweetheart deal for one to the detriment of all others. Let's stop subsidizing some businesses with the wallets of others, he reasoned.
"What sets our people apart from each other; what keeps them from working together to advance our islands?" Dim wondered. Then, he realized what needed to happen. These islands, our people, must become a discrimination-free zone. We have to be a discrimination-free zone to businesses that wish to come to the Virgin Islands. We have to become a discrimination-free zone to visitors and guests and help to make their visits more enjoyable. And, most important, we have to become a discrimination-free zone toward one another.
There will never be success, or happiness, without realizing that each one of us matters. How many "continentals," born in the United States and proud Americans, never have a voice, no matter how long they live here? There cannot be one class or group or race which rules another. History has proven that we will never advance as long as we allow separation to rule our society.
With that in mind, Dim orders a new order of government that is inclusive and insures that everyone has a voice and that each community is represented. "I will start at the top of Government House to make sure every person and district shares equally in the decision making processes." With this thought, Dim is suddenly very happy.
Now on a roll, Dim thinks, "Where do good ideas come from? What if I set up town meetings and town councils on each island to pow-wow ideas with each community? I am sure there are great ideas just floating around that only need an audience." Dim thought, "If I go to the people, they will understand that our fiscal crisis is our fiscal crisis and we all have to join in to solve our problems. It's not just my problem, or my administration's problem — it's everyone's." With everyone's participation, there is no end to the possibilities that can be achieved.
Suddenly, Dim didn't seem so dim anymore, and Dumb just got a lot smarter!
Steve Black
St. John

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