Why We Won’t Come Home (Part I of IV)
Antigua and many of the Caribbean islands have a lot of issues stifling their growth. Antigua has had just about 33 years to make something productive of itself and has failed to do so. All they’ve done is focused on one thing – tourism. “Tourism is everybody’s business” they say, but a tourist is all the country will ever attract if it keeps heading down its current path. Also take note, in America, island tourism is not their business. There is only one island that exists to them; it’s called Jamaica. Maybe our tourism isn’t as great as we think – “Pree dat.” (Think about it) They complain about the students not returning home. You know why they don’t return – because they are not tourists. They are residents. I ask myself, what is it that draws my interest about America so much as to keep me away from my hometown and my family. Is it just the pay? I will tell you, yes, that is a contributing factor, but there is so much more.
Let’s talk about my access to products and services. I can stay at my home and order something on Amazon for a reasonable price, for reasonable shipping and have it in my hands in a reasonable time. Why don’t we have that infrastructure back home? Some may say because someone hasn’t built it as yet. That’s not the truth. As a Software Engineer, with enough experience to probably build a virtual Gundam (inside joke), I can build such as system in no time. The reason why it won’t work is because the Customs and Excise Division will charge you the price of your soul and some just to bring it in. This isn’t isolated to international imports, but even a regional import of goods takes a toll on one’s pocket. Why is this the case? Haven’t we learned anything from history? I guess none of us ever heard Winston Churchill speak when he said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In case you are lost, let me point you to the time and place in history from which we can learn. The Tariff Act of 1930 that occurred here in the Great America did more harm than good to the economy many economists would say. They tried to raise taxes on imported goods in order to maximize the trade within America and protect American labor. Sounds familiar? Sounds just like what our Customs and Excise division is doing. The only difference is that it didn’t take America 33 years to realize the harm they were doing to the great country they were trying to build. So I ask myself, why is it that this country doesn’t at least begin by making trade between the islands more affordable. Not affordable to just businesses, but affordable to the average Joe. That would lead to so much more positive effects. First of all, If I saw something locally costing 45 ECD and realized that I could get it for 20 ECD from another island, with 15 ECD shipping, thus saving me 10 ECD, I could evaluate the cost of convenience – whether or not the item has to be procured immediately, or if it could be ordered from another island for a cheaper rate and available to me in about 2 days. At that point, we have introduced competition into the market. Let’s talk about competition in the market…
While your reasoning is dead on, we need to remember that in comparison to the Caribbean the US is not only larger but also a global manufacturer of many of the products that we in the Caribbean use. The high cost of importing goods falls on that single island not on the Caribbean as a collective. Now because of this, that island is forced to find a way to recuperate on that strain as well as generate revenue in that same transaction. As was stated, ” All they’ve done i focus on one thing – Tourism” and it is apparent tourism isn’t paying the bills.