With a severely battered local economy, the NMI pins its hopes in the tidings that Japan and Asia have finally turned the corner, though such tidings were issued with guarded optimism.
Perhaps the adverse effects of the Asian contagion comes as a blessing in disguise for the NMI. It granted us the opportunity to see, for the first time, where we stand when tourism, our primary industry, heads south.
In the end, politicians and bureaucrats finally allowed the slow learning curve to sink in as they battle a new reality in these isles: the equal contraction of job opportunities for their constituency when the private sector started downsizing and closing their doors since two years ago.
The “So What!” attitude has changed to “Now What?” And the increasing number of unemployed indigenous people are asking, “Well, what now?” It’s a tough beat to follow even for seasoned bureaucrats and politicians.
Planning has never been nor is it now the forte of islanders. Thus, our hopes have also been dashed and turned into greater uncertainty by two external influences: 1). The ravaging effects of the Asian crisis. 2). The deafening and unstabling effects on lasting investments by plans for a federal takeover of immigration and other collateral issues.
In the process, we struggle to understand the hypocritical economic policy of the Clinton administration which grandly excludes the CNMI in its pronouncement “not to leave anybody behind”. Well, not only did they leave us behind but he also kicked us on the face for pleading to be assimilated into the “economic good times” now being enjoyed by fellow citizens across the country. Well, the CNMI is Americana too!
Local leadership (private and public sectors) must not despair nor be discouraged from the challenges of these trying times. We’ve learned that democracy comes in strange forms where US Citizens, especially those situated outside the fringe of mainstream America must quadruple their efforts to protect their political and economic rights from the multitude of special interests treading the most powerful chambers in Washington where we lack representation.
We need to strengthen our resolve to guard our rights to self-government while working on lasting measures at wealth and jobs creation. In no uncertain terms, we must articulate the destructive effects of the proposed federal takeover on current and prospective investments. The former has decided against expansion while the latter has opted to head elsewhere.
The destruction of our livelihood will translate into a single agenda: The appropriation of more US mainland taxpayers hard earned income to ease economic annihilation, if and when, ill-conceived federal takeover policy succeeds. We doubt that either side of the Pacific wanted to see this happen. Si Yuus Maase`!
Strictly a personal view. John S. DelRosario Jr. is publisher of Saipan Tribune