Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. and Cecilia deJongh wish Virgin Islanders a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover.
Becoming independent has long been discussed in US Virgin Islands. Growing, and packaging our own food is an excellent idea. So is using solar and wind power to decrease dependence on other methods of producing energy. However, there are more issues to deal with than might meet the eye.
Here are a few to ponder:
Postal service - we will have to set up our own. Rates will probably go up.
Border protection - the Coast Guard will be gone. Who will set up and PAY for the manpower and equipment necessary?
National Guard: Even if the current members of the various guard units were "nationalized" who is going to pay their salaries and benefits?
Health Care: Our hospitals will no longer fall under US accreditation standards. Who will take the responsibility to maintain the quality of care? Oh yes, our Veteran's Administration Clinics will go away. The excellent care provided will have to be obtained by flying to San Juan.
Disaster Assistance: NO MORE FEMA! Guess we'll need to go to the UN for funds when the next hurricane comes.
Education Funds: No more federal funds. Now what?
Housing: No more HUD funding.
Roads: No more federal dollars.
US Agriculture Department: Gone. Who will assist our farmers?
US Park Service: Gone. Who will maintain our parks?
According to the US Census Bureau, Consolidated Federal Budget Report for 2006, (issued in April 2008) the US Virgin Islands received $5718 per capita from the Federal Government. So if every man, woman and child will chip in their $5700 (only $22,800 for a family of four), we may just make it. Of course we will then be free to decide who can vote, run for office, become a citizen, own land, and run businesses all without any interference (or money) from the US Federal Government.
Give it some thought. Ask those who advocate for independent status how they plan to take care of these basic issues and how they would fund the needs of the island. We are not an economic asset to the US and are probably not a military necessity anymore. No doubt the Federal Funds spent here could be well used in multiple other locations. What price do we want to pay and what changes do we want to make?