This sounds like a murder mystery; it is not, unfortunately it has been a way of life here in our Islands for years. Let me explain; we have developed the beg, borrow and steal method of governing to a science. For decades the amount of money coming into the treasury from normal taxation has not satisfied the promises elected officials have made to the voting public and various friends and relatives. In order to satisfy theses promises the government resorted to the first line of procedure — beg. Now I don’t mean standing on a street corner with a sign, I mean beg from the Federal Government. The Feds were very willing to listen and when certain agreements were reached, they wrote the big checks. This has gone on for decades. Yes we will improve the prisons-write a check so we can. Yes we will clean up the dump-write a check. Yes we will fix all the roads-write a check. The federal checks came in and the work never got finished. Sorry, No More Blank Checks!
So Dear Reader “begging” is out. Let’s try borrowing. The bond market is a natural place to look for cash, they have lots of it and friends can make a little money putting the deals together. In recent years future income from things like the rum factories and future income from other kinds of taxes that normally would be left for future generations can get pledged so a big lump of money can be borrowed now and of course spent now. Why spend tomorrow when you can spend today. The bond market is a logical place they are ready to accept all our future income as collateral to write a check now. They do not require our borrowing or even ask for it but respond if we ask them. So don’t blame them. In recent years the market only required a solid future income source to secure the money. Now the Fed requires all governments to also provide to the lender a complete balance sheet. In other words you must show all the money owed as well as all unfunded liabilities, such as the two billion in unfunded GERS Not only this unfunded obligation but obligations like unpaid Workman’s compensation, unpaid WAPA bills, etc. etc. Now a possible lender might just panic when they see the debt of our Government. Panicked lenders don’t lend. I guess this is out.
Now stealing is very popular. No I’m not talking about the kind where you hold up a Bank or armored car. I’m referring to that very popular Government game of stealing from one department to another. For example just now the Government wishes to sue Hovensa over some money owed and some other things. Lawyers, especially those that live far away in Washington, get big money per minute, heck just a hello from one of them can cost you hundreds. So to satisfy something that seems important now we will steal from the Insurance fund to send the first million. This likely will not cover much beyond hello and thank you. The Insurance fund, as we know is our protection in case, no when, we have another hurricane to cover unpaid insurance claims made by ordinary people. It has become so easy to justify taking our children’s money for our current wants that not a concern is shown. If we had a space program our rockets would dig a hole rather then send you up to the moon.
I say these things not out anger but out of exasperation. The officials who have been responsible for getting us into this mess are by and large good people. They have been frightened of the public. We the public have not been willing to look in the mirror and see the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is we can’t afford the government we have. Let’s cut from the top and bring the wealth down to the workers.
Bob White, St. Croix
Beg, Borrow and Steal
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