In the military they use a technique called spider webs to connect information and find out what is really going on in a complex situation. Let's see if it helps us with the very simple retirement problem.
The CNMI retirement is in trouble because many government entities are breaking the law and not paying the Retirement Fund as they are directed by law. Let's say you buy a new car and you put a thousand down and agree to pay $150 per payday. You then enjoy your new car for a while and then stop making payments. How long will you have that car? Not long. It would be repossessed, you'd lose your down payment, and you'd owe penalties and legal fees.
CNMI government entities have stopped making their car payments to the Retirement Fund. So why is the Retirement Fund problem so complex? Denial is the answer! Let's do the spider web thing. The law says government entities have to pay the Fund (just like your car payment). The Legislature, wanting to continue to spend money they don't have and not wanting to take responsibility for any cuts, underfunds agencies like the Public School System, Commonwealth Health Center, and Northern Marianas College. They allow agencies like the Commonwealth Government Credit Union to make loans from the Fund and allow a financing agreement with the Fund in February and March 1995 to finance the construction of a judicial complex (that's the new courthouse and this is important as you will see later).
Now these agencies, wanting to continue to spend money they don't have and not wanting to take responsibility for any cuts, find ways, legally and illegally, to continue their programs as before. Now that push comes to shove, no one wants to admit they have shortchanged the very core of our local workforce by not paying the Fund. You can see that every government agency that did not pay the Fund what they owed it will point fingers back up the chain of command and not help the Fund because it will cost them (the very reason they didn't pay in the first place). The Fund has already won lawsuits to this effect. But the Judiciary will not force the rest of the government to pay what they owe the Fund. Why? Because they are in the same situation as every one else, owing the Fund!
When you see the big picture, it is both understandable and easy to fix. No one wants to pay the Fund what they owe because it will require them to make cuts that won't be popular. The law is clear and has already been decided in court. If our government would simply follow the law (as you and I are expected to do or be thrown in jail) the Fund would have the funds to follow that same law and pay the retirees what they have earned. Remember, retirement is not a gift. It is earned. The retirees have already earned it. When is our government going to pay what is owed? Maybe when the Judiciary isn't in the spider's web?