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Archive for May 8th, 2014

 

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.

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… and that can be good!

~W. Edwards Deming

Seychelles is a beautiful country. No one who has gazed at our magnificent granite mountains, strolled our pristine beaches or enjoyed our warm, clear sea would argue the point. 

Beauty has value, of course, but it’s not always enough to sustain an economy and provide for a population, no matter how small.

As the World Bank explains:

 

This island is predominantly service-based and highly vulnerable to global shocks and climate change due to its isolation and small size.

 

… The limited land space, capital, and human resources restrict Seychelles’ ability to benefit from economies of scale in production and economic diversification. 

 

Although tourism and the fishing industry have done us well over the years our dependence on the global economy for guests combined with the bleak outlook for a continuing availability of fish in massive numbers, it seems time to do a re-think and make some changes.

 

Change is never easy; belt-tightening that makes daily living a challenge and new rules forced through scarcity often result in painful restrictions and has historically led to societal unrest and rebellion.

But what if all that needs changing is attitude?

 

We would rather be ruined than changed;

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.

~W.H. Auden

 

Three little changes in perspective, just three, all eventually inevitable anyway, could set Seychelles on a quick path to solving issues that now loom large. Why not lead, rather than struggle to catch up with those who possessed the vision … and the cojones … to forge the way forward?

 

First thing: The legalization of marijuana. 

 

The instant benefits of such a move have been made clear in places where the laws have been changed in favor of a reasonable approach. Take, for example, the US state of Colorado where over US$ 1 million was raised in tax revenue alone in the first 30 days of legalized pot …

 

The proposal outlines plans to spend some $99 million next fiscal year on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities. The money would come from a statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on recreational pot. Colorado’s total pot sales next fiscal year were estimated to be about $610 million.

People are already growing weed here illegally, a condition proven to do more harm than good by putting ill-gotten gains into the hands of bad people:

For the first time ever, many of the farmers who supply Mexican drug cartels have stopped planting marijuana, reports the Washington Post. “It’s not worth it anymore,” said Rodrigo Silla, a lifelong cannabis farmer from central Mexico. “I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.

 

Keeping pot illegal is not only of no benefit to the country, but creating a drag on the economy through policing costs in time and energy and tying up the courts. 

 

Since both the police and the courts should be busying themselves pursuing far more dangerous and detrimental crimes and since the income generated by legal pot farms would add much to the country’s coffers, it’s a win/win situation waiting to happen.

It’s not only farmers and retailers that would see profits, but also ancillary business like bakeries and other purveyors of items to munch. (Watch this if you doubt the potential for the sale of snacks.)

 

As more places make recreational pot an option, Seychelles could grow a global export market for what must be excellent … and somewhat exotic … pot at exactly the same time this country draws mellow tourists who would enjoy tokes on the beaches at sunrise AND have a load of extra cash from the taxes on the weed for enforcement of laws against … and treatment for … truly dangerous and addictive drugs that take a heavy toll here like alcohol and heroin.

 

And speaking of mellow tourists … that brings us to the second change: The legalization of same-sex marriage.

Not only is the writing on the wall for marriage equality to become the standard in the modern world, it is also simply right … and why should anyone care enough about someone else’s love life to get in their way anyway?

 

There are now eighteen countries that recognize gay marriages, NONE of which is a tropical holiday destination.

Aside from earning Seychelles the designation as a caring, progressive country that refuses to cater to bigotry, it’s also a huge money maker:

 

In a paper posted this week by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, researchers predict that same-sex marriages will bring nearly $700 million to the California wedding industry and pump almost $65 million in new revenue into the state budget over the next three years.

 

Weddings are income generators for many local business and they lead to anniversaries so guarantee repeat visits, and with the simple step of legalizing gay marriage in this wedding-destination, tourist-dependent country we open up a new and untapped market … AND up the image of the country globally.

 

Another win/win.

 

The third change requires a bit more than an attitude shift: Swift conversion to solar power.

If every new construction project in Seychelles over the past few years had been required to roof with solar collectors, we’d not need to import expensive, dirty fossil fuels to run much of the country … and we wouldn’t have as many power cuts. (My power just cut … sigh … so who knows when I’ll be able to publish this post.)

We are 4 degrees south of the Equator, which results in having 12 hours of daylight every day of the year, unlike Germany that expects to be 100% onboard with renewable energy by 2050 and has already made a very good start on that goal.

 

Germany is, without a doubt, the leading country for using solar energy. Not only has Germany installed thousands of solar panels already, but it plans to be using nothing but renewable energy by 2050. The country has remained the top buyer of solar energy panels for several years now, and is expected to continue going forward in the same direction during the upcoming months.

 

During 2009, Germany installed eight times more megawatts of photovoltaics solar energy capacity than America did that year.

 

Unlike the diesel the generators that now provide electricity to Seychellois need constantly and a great cost, sunshine is free. Just imagine how much juice would be produced now if places like Four Seasons Resort, Ephilia Resort and Eden Island had been mandated to install solar voltaic systems as part of their projects!

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Car parks covered in panels are a great idea!

 

Remember, if nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

 

 

(If you don’t like weed, don’t use it. To those who find homosexuality somehow offensive I say: If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry anyone the same sex as you are … and GET OVER IT. If you are opposed to renewable energy from the sun that shines every day … well … you’re either weird or you have a strong financial stake in dirty, expensive fossil fuels.)

 

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