We have heard many heart-warming stories about the wonderful non-profit organization called the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This organization grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions in the hope of enriching that person's human experience with hope, strength and joy. But today I want all of us to think of wishes that we wish would come true. Then it will be up to us to see why they can come true or cannot come true. Come to think about it, we have more power than we realize but we rarely exercise it.
I will start with my list and you add your own. My first wish is for all our people who want to work to have the opportunity. This wish includes the chance to learn a trade or profession. This will create prosperity because all who work will receive some sort of income. And most of all should slow down the exodus of our people from the CNMI.
Another wish is for the Administration and our Legislators to sit down as one group regardless of party affiliate and seriously discuss in union how to resolve the many economic problems we are facing. Of course, this is not happening but it is election year time and the Legislators will be asking for our vote. Are we hearing the promises already? What can we do about this problem? We can tell them to put up or shut up. What is your wish on this?
I wish that the CUC would get its act together. It keeps apologizing for non-collections and keeps penalizing those of us who faithfully pay our utility bill. I wish CUC would turn off the Administration's, the PSS's, the CHC's and any other government agencies' utilities who do not pay their bill. Wow! What a foolish wish! I forgot we are in an emergency situation which means this cannot be done because someone said it cannot be done.
A wish for everybody is for the CHC to be able to give the proper and necessary medical treatment to patients instead of acting as on oversized clinic. What started out as a great promise and pride for all of us when the hospital was built has now become a place when we have to go there we don't know what the results of our visit will be. Will we come out alive or -- ? Help!
I know that many government workers both retired and still working will wish with me that the pension fund will somehow be revitalized. What did we do to ourselves? How did we get into this mess?
Go to the Dandan food stamp office and see how many of our local citizens are lined up for food stamps. Wish with me that they can find a job and help themselves. There is work but how many of them are looking for it and are trained for it?
Our list of wishes can be endless. We can spend a lifetime wishing and doing nothing about fulfilling them. Why does it have to be that way? What does it take to make most of our wishes come true? The only way wishes will come true is for us to make them come true. But how?
By now you are thinking that I am getting soft in the head playing with wishes. But the plain fact is that wishes are the stuff that real life is made of. As children we have wishes. As adults we continue to have them. But too often they are never fulfilled because we are not willing to pay the prices for them.
Fellow citizens, we know we are in deep trouble and we know that it is getting worse. Therefore, I will stop making wishes here because I know they will never come true unless you and I take action. It is obvious that our local government is not concerned with us. It is only concerned with getting itself reelected. How else can one explain the fact that we have been repeatedly told that we have no money, yet all of a sudden government employees will be working a full 40 hour week in a few months? What about the rest of us-non government employees?
Frankly speaking, I am going to create my own wish list and do everything in my power to make it come true. And here is my number one priority wish: I want to create job opportunities and working opportunities for us-the local people!
I and several other people have several projects in mind which will create jobs and business opportunities. In about a month or so we will disclose all of them. And if we fail in succeeding with them we will tell you why and what happened.
No, we am not being braggarts, only determined to succeed. The government is too busy looking out only for themselves and not the rest of us. Therefore we must pick ourselves up and do what has to be done. Help comes only when we begin to help ourselves, not when we sit and beg.
Please don't think I am bitter or criticizing our government officials. They know what they are doing so I cannot change their course of action. Perhaps they do not feel that employment for our local people should be the number one priority, so be it. I think it is and will pursue that course of action.
From my research of the major problems in many countries in the world, the major problem is employment for its citizens. I read a BBC World Service survey that covered 11,000 people in 23 countries which concluded that unemployment is the world's fastest worry. Look at what it is doing to our community-longer breadlines at the food stamp office, more crime, poverty, exit of citizens from our islands, alienation of relationships, etc. What has happened to our pride and dignity?
Sadly I have arrived at the following conclusion: Were all the U.S. born Americans, Chinese, Koreans, and Filipinos leave the CNMI, it would fall into total bankruptcy. Why? Could it be that it is these people who control the vast majority of all commercial establishments? How many businesses are owned by locals? This a scary situation when we try to find ways to improve our prosperity.
How did we lose our self-reliance and industrious? Our fathers and grandfathers certainly had them. When did we begin demanding entitlements and become greedy? Why are so many of us demanding handouts and have a feeling of dependency? We seem to have lost our honor, humility, personal, and social responsibility. We want our share even at the expense of others.
Please, let's wake up and take control of our economy. The only stronghold we currently have is that we still control the government, but this too will change one day in the near future. Then what will we locals have when we cannot locals only to the government? Look at Hawaii how it has changed.
Yes, let's make wishes but let's pay the prices they require. We have everything to gain or we have everything to lose. Which shall it be?
Where there is no spark, there can be no flame. And no wishes will come true until we wake up and go to work. Wear a huge SMILE daily. I want us to feel good when we meet. Do have a fabulous week!
Pellegrino is a longtime businessman in the CNMI and is the former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.