Are we willing to work on the road to prosperity?


Anthony Pellegrino

 By Anthony Pellegrino
Special to the Saipan Tribune

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.” This is the theme of Napoleon Hill’s popular book: Think and Grow Rich. Let’s repeat it: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.” Think poor and we remain poor. Think rich and we become rich. Think positive and we become positive. Think negative and we become negative. Yes, our frame of mind dictates who we become.

We have all heard the saying: “Being poor is a state of the mind. But being broke is a temporary situation.” In other words if we think we are poor, regardless of the money and help we receive, we will always be poor because we think poor. However if we lose money or are temporarily short of it, our endeavors will bring back the money.

I hate to tell you how much money I have lost in some of my businesses, but somehow I have always bounced back. Think about what happened to my huge investment on the Outer Cove Marina. Therefore being out of money or short of it can be a temporary situation if we are willing to work to regain it. What types of individuals are we-poor or temporarily broke?

By now we are all aware that the local government is bankrupt both monetary and I add morally for what it has done to us, its citizens who put our trust and faith in it. We are in a deep depression. People are running away, prices are escalating; tourism is down while businesses close daily. The incredibly high CUC power rates are adding greatly to this demise of our economic life. Daily we stand in awe-powerless–watching our community, once proud and once on the road to prosperity, slowly suffocating.

Forgive me for being redundant every week preaching the same message. But what else should I talk about? I find very few of us struggling for improvement. We are mainly trying to stop the worsening conditions or running away from it instead of seeking improvement. Though most of the problems cannot be solved instantly, they can be solved step by step if we begin with examining ourselves and what we did that brought us to this point of desperation.

The first step to overcoming our dilemma is to begin developing ourselves. We must overcome the lack of developed “human capital” that we should have developed a long time ago, but did not. To me this is our basic problem: we refuse to work hard and take control of our economy. We prefer letting others do the work we should be doing ourselves.

When we need a plumber, carpenter, painter, auto repair, electrician, or any other skilled tradesman/tradeswoman, whom do we call? How many qualified resident citizens trained in these trades do we have regardless of the salary rate? We just do not have the skilled trades people. That is what is meant by “human capital.”

Do we ever ask if our leaders are motivating us? Plainly put: Is anyone motivating our citizens to learn a skill or trade? What are our opinions regarding people who do work with their hands? Are they on our social level on do we look down on them? Is working with our hands a degrading job? When we do this type of work do we feel proud or shameful?

Over the years the greatest yearning of all of us including our children has been to land a good cushion job with the local government. There for the next 20 years we can hibernate and expect to receive a good pension. But alas that bubble has now burst. Goodbye pension fund. What do we do now? Are we ready to do real work?

Without realizing it we created a socialist class. When our government spends over 75 percent of its budget for employees’ salaries, how can it be a government “of the people and for the people?” It is worrying more about restoring an 80 hour week for its own employees and forgetting the many people in the private sector. It forgets that its proper function is to govern, not operate industries.

Next to developing our “human capital,” we must examine our resources. What do we have or can produce that the market will buy from us? Economic growth comes from having something to offer-something others need and are willing to pay for it.

We have at least two wonderful natural resources to offer the market. One natural resource is that our islands are blessed with skies and beautiful scenery surrounded with unpolluted blue waters. And add to that a close proximity to Asia’s crowded cities. As a result we are able to offer a retreat from their heat and congestion. Thus we should actively try to increase and improve our tourism. Kudos to those hard working individuals who toil every day in trying to improve our tourist market. Currently tourism is our number one industry. Are we also helping to improve this industry?

The second natural resources we possess are large tracts of arable land in which we can grow thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. We can also grow animals for food. We have the ability and capacity to become a food basket for Guam and even Japan. I have discussed this at length in earlier writings. All we need is the strong desire to produce and deliver those fruits and vegetable. In my naïve thinking, I truly feel that we can recover most of our lost prosperity by tilling the soil under our feet.

But an increase in tourism and an increase in agriculture can only come about with our development of human capital. People, we must want to work! Prosperity will not come from outside sources. We must bend or backs and feel the sweat on our brows. Someone once said: “ God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.”

I appeal to our older citizens who recall having worked hard in their youth. Please come forth and tell us what you did as a youth and what we should do today. Show us how proud you feel that you did that work. Please don’t retire without sharing the valuable treasure you possess.

Forgive me for singing the same song over and over again-the need to work to succeed personally and for our community to succeed. I have worked hard all my life from my youth. I had to pay for my own college expenses. When my parents passed away they weren’t able to leave my brother, sister, and me much. I learned what it means to want something so badly that I would go almost to any lengths to attain it. Forgive my personal interjections, but I know that hard and smart work will bring total satisfaction in life.

Let us spend more time considering how to improve ourselves and our community and less time on words criticizing our government. Let us stop pointing fingers at individuals in blame for what they have done and what they are doing. We must spend more time on cultivating our own backyards for that is where happiness, prosperity and pride lie.

Yes, I am preachy. But you know I am correct but refuse to accept it. Remember me the next time you put your hand out for food stamps. Are you proud of yourself?

Yes, darn it, there are plenty of jobs, but why aren’t we willing to take them? In closing think of the following quote by Sidney J. Phillips: “Men are made stronger on realization that the helping hand they need is at the end of their own arm.”

So, are we willing to work on the road to prosperity or are we mentally poor and just good for whining? Remember, what the mind of man can conceive and believe he can achieve!

Have a great week and remember to SMILE!

Anthony Pellegrino Saipan Tribune

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