As most of you know, I write about the 30 blocks of squalor in West Philly all the time. The other day we experienced 30 miles of squalor amidst splendor on the Island of St Thomas. Our driver circled the entire 30 mile island on our trip to Sapphire Beach.

Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands hosted 2.4 million visitors in 2008. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, rum distilling, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. One of the world’s largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported.

The unemployment rate is 7.4%, but 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. The population is only 110,000. The population is 76% black and 13% white. It is a territory of the US, but its citizens cannot vote for President of the US.

The only real town is Charlotte Amalie. The rest of the island is mountainous, with treachorous roads. They drive on the left side of the road like England. It makes for some hair raising adventures. Our driver mentioned that as a territory of the US, they got what they were due from the US. The entitlement attitude has been spread to the Caribbean.

The drive from the beautiful port area to the splendor of Sapphire Beach wound through what would pass for slums in the US.   

St. Thomas Harbor,
There were dilapidated cars in front yards. It seemed like every half mile was a junkyard. Even the supposedly nice homes on the mountainsides needed work as walls were crumbling and their yards were overgrown with weeds. It seemed like people were so laid back that general maintenance was ignored. Even the resort at Sapphire beach was long in the tooth.
It is very clear that there are the haves and have nots on this island. There are the splendid estates at the tops of mountains occupied by the haves and there are the shacks and low income housing projects occupied by the have nots. St. Thomas is really a microcosm of the U.S. The ultra rich run the show, there really is no middle class, and the lower classes live on subsistence wages and social transfer payments. The median household income is only $25,000 versus $50,000 for the US as a whole.


The funniest signs I saw were from our beloved government. I saw 2 American Recovery & Reinvestment road signs. I couldn’t tell exactly what was repaired or improved. The roads are shitty and the infrastructure sucks. Don’t the morons in Congress realize that these people don’t vote, so why shovel millions of taxpayer funds into projects here? They can’t even get worthless pork spending right.

To my amazement I was shocked to see our old friend from the 30 Blocks of Squalor doing her thing on the island of St. Thomas. What a small world and big mama.

Truthfully, despite the squalor, I could learn to love this place. Every day is a summer day. The pace is slow. The people are nice. Somewhat different than West Philly.


  1. JQ—–I’m beginning to suspect you may be having a discreet liaison with that hot chocolate KFC babe that you keep profiling here. Tread lightly and use discretion. Imagine the fried chicken she could blackmail you out of. I’d hate to see your 20th Anniversary go up in flames if Avalon discovers your hot action behind the scenes.

  2. Can you blame him, Smokey?

    The bigger the cushion… the better the pushin’ Frank Zappa

    Cause I announce
    I like girls that bounce
    with a weight that pays about a pound per ounce. Beastie Boys

  3. Admin

    I wouldn’t worry about people on the Caribbean isles. They’re happy and content with their lifestyle. Oh, one more thing. They really don’t like American blacks. This is especially true in the Bahamas.

  4. Same old shit no matter where you go. I’ve been on every little spit of sand or coral or volcano island between Grand Bahama and Ascension Island in the S. Atlantic.

    They all have a flavor of their own and are all the same – the top 5% run the show, the middle 65% are usually undereducated working poor or part time crooks and the lower 30% beg, steal or exist on handouts. Just like the 30 block of squalor in Philly, Pine Hills in Orlando, great chunks of Phoenix, East LA (or is it West?) or most of Newark.

    The main difference in those beautiful islands and the rest of the world is the climate won’t kill you (although a hurricane might depending on which island you’re on).

    My favorites are the ex-Dutch Antilles – Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, Far enough South to avoid hurricanes but close enough to the tropical convergence zone to get rained on sufficiently. Aruba does import water (in a big pipe) from Venezuela which, sooner or later will lead Mr. Chavez to cause them trouble.

    They are all, as Harry Belafonte sang, islands in the sun and I love them all.


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