$15 minimum wage debate

National policymakers are debating the impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour that is now under review by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.

An increase would be a boon for millions of workers; the flip side is the millions who would also lose their jobs in the process.

“The Congressional Budget Office found that hiking the current $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would have a mixed impact on the workforce, raising the average weekly pay of an estimated 17 million while throwing as many as 3.7 million out of work.”

There are those who advocate allowing economic conditions to dictate wages over statutory impositions by the U.S. Congress. The conflicting discussions, legitimate in everyway from both sides, never settles on an agreed position. The matter turns into a perennial issue that spreads quickly among politicos as though a new strain of flu.

Here at home, policymakers must wrestle with the disposition of fast economic contraction that translates into far less revenue for the CNMI. Imagine trying to help the 15,000 employees stuck under starvation income simultaneously paralyzed by the fast descending economic contraction. Hope?

Yes, I’ve seen households who really need to be lifted out of the starvation income category. But this must be taken beyond pennies that lead families out of abject poverty, permanently. Mediocre performance isn’t the answer! Why give pennies that fail to improve family economic conditions to a level of common decency?

Understood that the increase and all its complex implications are far removed from ordinary employees struggling with starvation income. Is an intermittent increase your best answer? Isn’t the more realistic paradigm the resurgence of new investments? I haven’t seen anything up this alley since recent past.

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Newsy: The only other activity making headlines today is money owed CUC by various government agencies in the millions of dollars. You add CHC and therein we find a huge mountain of debt to contend with. All agencies, though, are into making requisite cuts to stay afloat.

Planned austerity measures were prompted by a huge reduction in revenue generation. It forces leadership to navigate scarce resources.

The new challenge is keeping a bloated payroll as revenue generation heads south. The governor has hinted reduction in services and work hours or perhaps a combination thereof. It’s a certainty given the contraction or reduction in revenue since recent past.

Adding humor, Magoo said, “Wen natting, den natting.” In brief, don’t spend when there’s nothing in the coffers. If you brave it, then it turns into “deficit spending.” Bad habit all the way around!

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Resolve? There’s growing stagnancy in activities affecting every sector here that brings forth the necessity to make significant cuts in the size of government. Downsizing or reduction would result in savings so more funds are earmarked for essential services like health care and education.

Appalling how we speak loudly of a bloated system, yet yawn long and hard ignoring it simultaneously. Obviously, there’s simply the lack of resolve to put teeth behind our big mouth. Call it adolescency!

Do we need the luxury of a bicameral legislative system composed of 29 members? Is the NMI still in need of fundamental laws? When do we actually take the issue full square so we reduce it down to a unicameral system with eight to 10 members?

Now, we have 31 combined departments and agencies in the CNMI. Has the expansion factually resulted in the improvement of the quality or life of the indigenous people? Are we going to put teeth into cutting excess baggage or do we slide back into our favorite expression: “not yet, already?” Resolve?

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Liberation75: For all of our country’s successes and failures, Scott Rasmussen said it best, “Our nation has never been—and never will be—perfect. But our founding ideals remain a noble beacon of hope for all Americans to follow.” He is a political analyst, author, public speaker and columnist for Creators Syndicate.

As remote the physical geography of these isles are, we’re still under the “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and would not have it any other way. Indeed, we celebrated the 75th year of our country’s independence or what’s commonly known here as Liberation Day.

I did my solemn prayer for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy our freedom, singing, “America the Beautiful…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.
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