Last year, as oil prices skyrocketed, citizens came out in droves to protest the WAPA increases, Hovensa increases, electric rates and a host of other issues. Most felt it was unfair and they were right. Now, the PSC has been holding hearings on new WAPA rate increases and hardly anyone has shown up. Are things so good that we, as citizens can absorb additional fees without even making a statement?
Yes, gas prices have fallen and the WAPA rates have stabilized but we still face some of the highest electric rates in the world. There is no guarantee that prices will stay level for any amount of time. Ferry rates may go up and we came out in the hundreds to protest. What if the increases do not come, will we go quietly back and claim a victory or will we continue to seek ways to prevent the same thing from happening later? Will we try to completely understand what the real issues are or will we just scream "Unfair!"?
WAPA has been negotiating with several companies that would provide alternative energy sources to include solar, wind, trash burning, geothermal and ocean current technologies. These decisions could be made soon. Alternative energy companies' presence in the Virgin Islands would change our lives for the better and perhaps forever, yet the silence from citizens in regard to just which company should be chosen – is deafening!
We hear loud and clear the protestations regarding the new draft Constitution and portions of the language. It appears that only a select few have actually seen the document as it will be presented to the Governor and on to the federal government. Except for some provisions, this document has some level of merit although this writer believes it could be a lot more innovative. The ancestral and native inclusions are the only issue being discussed yet there are many more flaws and many commendable sections that should be reviewed by every citizen of the Virgin Islands. While this document could never pass muster at the federal level, citizens should know what it contains so that the next attempt, which just might come soon, can be scrutinized. Knowledge is power and knowing the positions of the delegates is just as important as the document itself. For this reason, it would behoove us to find out what happened so that we can make more informed decisions about who we want to elect the next time a convention is called. Yet, there seems to be a population-wide apathy about the process except for those few who write or verbalize on talk shows.
Complacency can be epidemic and just might be the core reason why we are not pro-active in all things government. We seem to have short memories when things are a bit better even though we still have so many problems to discuss and solve.
I recall the huge gasoline shortages of the 1970's and the drastic steps taken to conserve fuels. One step was to lower the speed limit to 55 MPH. Then, as prices stabilized, the speed limit was back up to 70. In that event, we accepted the artificial gas price increases without realizing that oil companies were the real blame for the problem. They wanted higher prices for oil, a panic set in and they got exactly what they wanted as a result. There have been many other similar economic events which affected every person in the United States yet we allowed the government to solve them for us, instead of understanding the issues and being pro-active ourselves. We must have learned from those historic times but over and over again it is proven that we didn't. We seem to be victims of our own apathy.
It is not good enough to protest some government policies when we could have shown up to affect those policies to begin with, as is our right to do. Often, government agencies have said: "Where were you when we asked for comments"? If you don't comment, only the special interests will prevail and there is no one to blame but us.
The government is still the people and we have a right and a responsibility to be involved in it.
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