Opinion: Wishy-washy

POSTED: 08/8/13 2:23 PM

We don’t know what it is with this much talked-about but hardly understood National Development Plan. Every discussion we hear about it, every initiative we read about, gives us the feeling of a wishy-washy soooo sixties program. It also gives us the feeling that nobody knows what the actual objective is.

Oh, sure, there is no lack of terminology. A collective vision; social dialogue; listen to each other and exchange ideas; respect; multi-cultural society. And so on. This one is a beauty, produced by Prime Minister Wescot-Williams during yesterday’s press briefing: “Attitude and aptitude require certain skills.”

Does attitude require skills? Hell, how do we know? We always thought this is about the way you get up in the morning, the way you treat animals, and how much you lie to your better half. But skill? We’re a bit lost here.

And then there is of course aptitude. For the uninitiated: that word means, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary natural ability, aka talent or the capacity for learning. So who on earth needs skill if there is talent or the capacity for learning lying around? We don’t get it.

Our Prime Minister noted that St. Maarten is a multi-cultural society, adding “and still we have to come to a plan for St. Maarten.”

So the core question is: what kind of country do we want to be? Do we want to be a multi-cultural society? (We are – whether you like it or not). Do we want to be a banana republic, or do we want to evolve into a mature democracy? Do we want to rely on tourism for the next five hundred years or do we want to get our heads out of our behinds and come up with creative economic diversification?

Do we want to keep sending our kids for study abroad on the tax payers’ penny, knowing that most of them won’t come back and that a lot of them will never pay back their study financing? Do we want to embrace the students that do come back? Or do we want to sideline them, because they are too smart for their own good?

Do we want transparency in government or do we want to keep making deals behind closed doors – a place where money talks? Do we want politicians that speak their mind when this is required, or do we want politicians that make a run for the hills whenever a controversy comes up?

Do we want a thriving private sector – you know, a place where businesses make healthy profits to the point that they are able to offer employment to many? Or do we want to stick to our head-in-the-sand protectionist attitude that will keep as many skilled foreigners at bay, thereby frustrating economic development and in the process killing job opportunities for locals?

We could go on and on with these questions, but for now, this is our contribution to the National Development Plan. We want less wishy-washy talk and more practical input.

And when everything is said and done, we need our politicians to turn all that input into even more practical projects that benefit not the few, but the many.

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