Proposed increase in MW

Posted on Oct 12 1999

There are two schools of thought in the current debate to raise federally mandated minimum wage: 1). Liberal social democrats want to use such legislation for political gains in hopes of taking control of the US House of Representatives. 2). Others view it as justified given the robust national economy, therefore, this ought to be the overriding reason for the proposed increase.

We agree with the latter view although the impact would cost midsize and small business some $17 Billion to accommodate the new increase. Conservatives have equally sought tax breaks for this group of businessmen to ease the impact of another likely mandate increase in wages. The tax breaks being sought ought to help the smaller businesses muddle through another round of unsolicited mandated increase in hourly wages.

The robust national economy hasn’t descended on these isles and not by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that we’re in the Pacific Rim has definitely adversely affected our fragile economic foundation when Japan and Asia were hit by the worse economic flu three years ago. Coupled with the unstabling effects of a planned federal takeover which began in 1993 until recently, investors have basically overruled funneling their hard-earned funds in these isles, not to mention our penchant to add salt to injury through protectionist measures.

Frankly, it would be foolhardy to even entertain the notion of including the NMI under the proposed increase in federal wages. And not when revenue generation from our primary tourism industry has gone deep south. Furthermore, we humbly ask the Clinton administration to ascertain equal application of federal policies in these isles in much the same way that it granted American Samoa its industry wage. The argument by detractors that our situation is different because the NMI economy is larger than American Samoa is fluid at best. The principle of equal application of federal policies must be exercised no differently in any and all insular areas.

Finally, the cumulative benefits and salaries of guest workers here pans out to about $6.61 an hour. And additional increase would give this group of workers about $7.61 an hour, far exceeding the proposed federal statutory increase. Regardless of whether such increase is imposed on the service or manufacturing sector here, the net effect would still be the same: a forced economic meltdown of the NMI’s fragile economy. And the NMI is one group of US Citizens who never benefited from the “economic good times”. In fact, there seems to be a well planned scheme to “leave us behind”.

As difficult as it may seem for our detractors to see our situation through our lenses, our best hope lies in the good hearts of our friends in the US Congress who equally despise constant strangling federal laws and regulations. Si Yuus Maase`!

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