Dear Source:
Time makes prophets of those too myopic to see the obvious. In and of itself, that minor phenomenon isn’t notable –– except for the fact that while political Monday morning quarterbacking is fun, when done by a community’s leaders it serves as an effective mechanism in preventing those persons from learning from mistakes and missteps.
Currently, the most obvious example is the fallout from Beal’s loss in the land transfer case and subsequent pullout from the territory. Since Beal Aerospace has unceremoniously dropped their plans for building their headquarters in St. Croix, those who thrive on the pointing of fingers are writhing in an ecstasy of blame assignment.
If there is any blame to be assigned in this situation, let us be honest and place it where it really belongs. The simple truth is bad public policies, secrecy, deceit and backroom deal making, doomed the "Beal Deal" from the start. If the government doesn’t change the way it handles business, we’ll lose many more business opportunities in the future.
In the Virgin Islands, many politicians have come to believe they are serving the public’s interest when they attempt to circumvent established Virgin Islands law to suit each new business that enters the territory. Those elected officials appear incapable of understanding that changing the rules for each new business creates the very instability that causes the "deals" to ultimately fail. Rather than logically weighing the merits of each new business opportunity against current Virgin Islands law, they tout each new "deal" as the savior of the territory’s economic woes and thus deserving of any and all exceptions to the current regulations and indeed, to the laws of common sense. They appear to either forgotten or never learned that the creation of special legislation is both unconstitutional and against every tenet of a democratic society.
Elected leaders have neglected their responsibilities to provide a safe, stable environment in which businesses can operate and people can build productive, progressive lives. Instead, we have come to the point where both legislative and executive branch officials feel it is easier to "strike a deal" rather than take a politically uninfluenced look at our present tax code and begin the process of amending, re-codifying and repealing laws in order to stimulate the growth of business and thus broaden the tax base of the territory.
We have arrived at an economic crossroads from which there is no return. At this junction we must recognize that there exists but two ways we can view the pathway into the 21st century. Either we can allow our precarious economic situation to continually create contradictory and self-destructive public policies or we can establish firm public policies which would dictate our economic future by providing a stable foundation for economic development and societal advancement.
If our elected leaders don’t begin making sound decisions to set our economic house in order, someone else will come in and do it for us. That’s my bit of prophecy for the new century.
Emmett Hansen II
St. Croix


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