Opinion: Correction: You get the Government you’ve been paid for!

POSTED: 02/17/11 12:44 AM

Dear Editor,

When I read the title of R. Brison’s letter to The Daily Herald’s editor on Tuesday entitled “Don’t blame Government; You get what you pay for” I was somewhat taken aback, in that from reading the title, I got the impression that this person believes that Members of Parliament and the Ministers are not being paid enough. After reading the content of his letter I found this was not what he was implying at all but rather the people are getting the Government they have been paid for. He makes a good point in that elections are nothing more than popularity contests, and that vote buying must stop. I have to agree.
That St. Maarten voters are apathetic is no wonder because even if a politician is rejected by the voters they can still become part of the government by being appointed as a Minister. When you vote for someone you have no real way of knowing if they will be tasked to do a job they are qualified for or not. These crucial decisions are made after the fact by the party leaders and the voters have no real say so.
The title of the letter did however get me to thinking about what is the real cost to the citizens of St. Maarten for their Government. Are they in fact getting their money’s worth? In addition to the monthly salaries paid to Members of Parliament and the Ministers, you must factor in all the perks like the cost of their government supplied vehicle, cellular phones, health benefits, pension plans, the office space, administrative assistants, policy advisors, costs of belonging to various organizations, travel expenses and I’m sure many things I’m forgetting. Not to mention for many this is just a part time job. In addition to being part of Government they are receiving salaries from other sources. Nice work if you can get it I suppose.
This would be an interesting total cost to have, so that it might be divided by the number of square miles on the island. This number could then be compared to, oh, let’s say Holland. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find out it costs more per square mile to govern this tiny little island than it does to govern the entire Mother Country.
The Pelican fiasco is just the latest example of not getting what you pay for. When this fire was just sparking up back in December you were paying a Minister of Labor (and you may still be paying her I’m unsure about that) to do a job. After being involved in a scandal she resigned. All during January the fire was smoldering in the labor arena and now in February it’s become a five alarm blaze that nobody seems sure can be put out before the rest of the neighborhood burns down. Same old story, Government is reactive when they are being paid to be proactive.
The people of St. Maarten are paying a Mercedes-Benz price for their Government and getting a Kia product in return for their hard earned money.
As a reminder to Government, maybe their current vehicles should be taken away and replaced with Kia Souls equipped with Mercedes-Benz hood ornaments and badges. I don’t think they could tell the difference. They don’t seem to think the voters can. Or maybe staring at that Mercedes hood ornament will serve as a reminder of how well they are in fact being paid, while they experience that awesome Kia performance. After all fair is fair nuh?

Andy Croxall

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