For the sake of discussion, assume that you wish to get a job with the government. After all, that is where the high-paying jobs are. Being the head of state's chauffeur pays money that one could only dream of earning in a refinery, shop or restaurant. Being his bodyguard is a career that pays really large sums of money.
The problem, of course, is finding out who can help you get the job. Obviously, aside from a very small number of dissidents, the head of state's party runs the show. If you really want one of the high-paying jobs, you had better get on the good side of the party's political machine. After you attend the meetings and work for the party for some time, you will likely make the contacts that can help you get an audience with the "job brokers."
The "job brokers" are the men and women who make sure that the head of state's friends get preferred treatment. The support of a large number of people is directly dependent on having them tied to the party's fortunes. People will support the party to the end if their livelihood depends on it. The entire government is a collection of a large portion of the population that is loyal to the head of state and his party.
You will want to be exceptionally careful not to criticize the government. Any criticism could easily jeopardize your chances of scoring the dream job. The people who are suggesting that you get a certain job are not likely to take kindly to criticism of their performance. You are getting the job because you do not rock the boat, and that had better not change.
You get the call to report for your interview. Everything goes smoothly. You met the person interviewing you at a party function, and he was impressed with your commitment to keeping the party in power. He tells you that the pay grade you seek may be a little higher than what he can offer, but he is sure that if you are industrious, there is money to be made on the side. At the end of the day, he adds, it is a government job, and the sky is the limit.
There is one final hurdle between you and your dream job. In order for you to get paid, the head of state has to sign off on your being hired. He is a man who wants absolute control over every aspect of government. There are rumors that he cannot trust anyone that he has not personally reviewed.
You begin your job, but you will not receive a paycheck for a few months. There are many people for the head of state and his staff to review. Aside from that, the government is always on the brink of bankruptcy because of rampant corruption and waste. Even if the head of state signs off on your job, there may not be adequate funds to pay you.
This terrible scenario of payless paydays and the need for the head of state to sign a notice of personnel action must sound familiar to many Virgin Islanders. Oh, I am sorry — did you think that I was describing the local government? I was describing the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.
Editor's note: Bill Turner is a writer, a former history teacher and the executive director of the St. Croix Environmental Association. He writes a daily commentary on events in the Virgin Islands that can be accessed at V.I. Buzz.
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