What's Plan B?
That cover from der spiegel is a bit much. Retaliation in response to the ban on muslim immigrants to US. This is at the time of EU taking millions of refugees from Africa. Big mistake of progressive European governments forced down on their nations. It has changed the face of western and northern europe for years to come.
I owe you an apology for my recent post on comparing you with trolls. It was unkind and childish. Uncontrolled temper can be humiliating as well as dangerous. I will strive to keep my temper under control in the future.
US is probably the least racist country I ever lived. Yet we have been brainwashed in white shame for slavery and all the perceived racial injustice. I look at immigrants from China, Korea, Vietnam. That first generation in US working 18 hours days, starting small businesses, putting every dollar away to provide for their offsprings better future. The second generation enters the economy with commitment, hard work and perseverance. They become so successful that they blow competition away that Ivys have to limit % of admissions of Asian kids. Nevertheless they become doctor, lawyers, business leaders, IT wizards.
So regardless of all the racism in US these minorities are unstoppable.
Lets look at blacks in US. They have a huge advantage of native english and US citizenship, massive affirmative action programs yet their rate of advancement and achievement is low.
Maybe as a race they embrace different values? Perhaps all that left propaganda and affirmative action keeps them in the state that they are?
Just look at VI which is essentially black democracy. The minority is a supermajority here. What have they achieved as an independent territory? They just keep selling sunshine and ocean. Their biggest accomplishments are WAPA and GERS. It doesn't bother them a bit to live in this mess. Nobody here has a real desire to look the reality in the face and tackle the problems. Their plan is to borrow until the feds on the white horse will deliver bailout.
Was having a chat today with some friends about general travel. One of the things that came up is a few saying they would never go on a cruise for a few years, if ever.
Got me thinking, St Thomas relies so much on the cruise ships. Who knows if and when the Cruse industry will come back, so what's plan B? I know STX is more reliant on inbound tourism rather than Cruses, so they might not be as affected, assuming domestic travel takes off.
Anyone have any ideas?
I worked in downtown STT before moving to STX for about 15 years and can say there is no realistic "Plan B". I attended many of the meetings with the STT Chamber of Commerce, and was privy to a lot of the content of the behind the scenes discussions that the VI Govt had with the cruise lines as well as Travel Planners.....
While it has never been on such a scale as right now with all that is going on, the cruise dollars have been dwindling and on the decline for years and years before the storms even. In my experience the decline started as far back as the days after 9/11. In that time, and for a multitude of reasons, peoples tastes have changed, and more importantly what they spend money on in port has changed. When I first started downtown it was semi easy for a sales person in a jewelry store to get a customer to commit to high ticket items, right before the storms it would be easier putting a gun to the customers head to get the sale for even medium to low ticket sales. That has had a major impact on gross receipts income to the VI govt.
Cruise lines every year warn the islands, not just the VI, to not become complacent in their tourism product offerings. STT is kinda stuck because of the landmass that they have to work with, and downtown thinks that any vacant retail space has to be another jewelry store. STX with regards to offerings has a lot more potential because of the land mass available for the hotel travelers. STX did get somewhat of a boost with the refinery reopening but I hope painful lessons were learned to not rely just on that to be a savior of the island.
There are things that can be done and should be done to make the economy not quite as dependent on tourism dollars entirely but it requires massive changes be made and for the local government to completely turn their back on past ways of doing things and to make some tough but needed changes that are long overdue :
Going forward the VI Government as a whole needs to stop playing the "pass the buck" blame game on issues that are of grave concern to the VI as a whole. It doesn't matter which administration did what when it comes to fiscal problems that plague the VI, too much time has been, and continues to be wasted with that. The local government needs to swallow their pride and realize that years of bad decisions have led to the current state of affairs. The feds for years have been trying to nudge the VI government towards a CFO that would try and get a handle on the waste and misuse of taxpayer dollars. Without exception in the 25+ years that I have lived here, everytime that issue is brought up the VI government puffs up their chest and bellows about how they do not need someone coming in trying to tell them what is best for the territory and how it won't work. Well guess what, if they knew how to do it then we wouldn't be in the mess that we are in. The VI government better wake up to the idea of the carrot and the stick way of things because it would not surprise me if the feds start using the stick more than the carrot going forward. Look at the conditions that FEMA put on the local government with regards to the fed loans issued after the storms as a example.
Crime needs to be addressed as a issue of importance. Tourists and businesses do not flock to places where they are scared for their welfare. I was reading that yet again there is going to be money from the federal government given to the VI to install camera systems in high crime/ high tourist traffic areas. Hasn't worked all the other times that we have put systems in place so what makes this time any different ? Can't remember how many times I had to pull security footage for the VIPD in STT because their cameras downtown weren't working, weren't recording, or that they didn't have people that knew how to operate the equipment. As yet another example of too much pride at work, the VI government needs to engage in meaningful conversations with the mindnumbingly long list of federal law enforcement agencies and come together with better training and hiring practices for the VIPD for a start. I am tired of hearing that the community needs to help the police department more. People are scared that in turning in someone they could become a victim themselves. The VIPD doesn't have the resources that the feds do in getting a handle on what is going on in the streets and in some cases the offenders are police themselves. I also think that rather than it making it almost impossible for a eligible citizen to possess a firearm there needs to be a rethinking of the local gun laws and relaxing the requirements to some degree. Local street thugs might think twice before doing a robbery if they knew there was a good chance the person that they were going to rob was armed as well. I know it did in places that I lived in before moving to the VI.....
WAPA is one of the biggest stumbling blocks and the worst offender to real forward progress being made in the VI. For years the government has needed to step in and do something with regards to this travesty of a "public" utility. WAPA is also a example of why stubburn pride is causing so many problems here. WAPA as a semi-autonomous government agency needs to be reined in and held accountable for once and for all. They need to submit to a comprehensive audit, both of the financials and of the organization and management structure. It is beyond stupid that the community of the VI has to fund a utility that has a long history of mismanagement , deception, and waste to keep the lights on. WAPA through government inaction and oversight has eaten too many fields of carrots, it is long overdue for them to be introduced to the forest and a big bag of sticks. Reduction of rates with propane conversion FAIL ( with over a 100% cost overrun on the project), introduction of generators that are efficient in production of energy rather than ones that were designed slightly after Ford came up with the Model T FAIL, burying of power lines to not only improve the looks of the islands but to also ensure we don't have to replace the grid after a hurricane FAIL, ability to keep the power on reliably FAIL ( as I write this power just went out ), research and implementation of green energy sources and solutions ( of which the VI has tons of sources ) FAIL. I am tired of WAPA and their "Soon Come" attitude of business. There is no way possible for rates to go down without drastic changes, rather WAPA will do another "pay more now for cheaper rates later or else" pitches to PSC and status quo goes on. It is long overdue for the goverment to enter into talks with a public utility company that knows what they are doing and gut WAPA and start over. If this had happened years ago when Chuckie and others screamed about outsiders coming in and taking over ( noticed that years later she was singing a different toon) maybe things wouldn't be so bad right now...
Taxation and its collection is yet another system that needs to be looked at. Collections need to be more consistent, no more trying to collect 2 or three years at a time, at the same time IRB and the government need to be more on point in getting refunds to the taxpayers the year of the filing rather than 2-3 years later if you are lucky. The VI government needs to sit down with the feds and have some meaningful conversations in regards to a bunch of issues. The rum cover over tax and it's payment to the the VI government needs to stop being a thing that has to be approved every year as a line item in some bill. It gets approved, lets just kinda finalize the thing already and save the VI and the US some money already. I am in favor of the same sort of program being instituted with Limetree products but lets keep it realistic. There is no way the feds are going to do a retroactive payment back to the VI for every barrel of oil processed at the refinery since it first went into operation, going forward would be nice though. One of the biggest things that needs to change in taxation is the import/duty taxes..... It is so nice on a daily basis that the VI community gets taxed twice on items coming into the territory but prospective businesses don't think so so much.
EDC program needs to be looked at, changed, and expanded. If some of the above changes happened, then the VI starts to be looked at as a favorable place to take advantage of the EDC program. The EDC program is a nice idea in concept but needs work as well. There needs to be a better vetting system in place to ensure that the businesses that become a part of the EDC program today are not the ones that are on the front page of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal as part of a scandal tomorrow. The tuition program that was put into place at UVI for locals is a step in the right direction to help retain local citizens for the work force but the jobs need to be there. Small local business development programs need to be a part of this as well. This would encourage the growth of businesses that don't revolve just around the tourism dollars. There also needs to be further development into technology. The tech park was a great idea in theory but hasn't worked out so hot in practice. Technology infrastructure is something that also needs to be expanded. The lifeblood of businesses these days depends on affordable reliable internet services.