At dawn in paradise

Between here and Washington I’ve bookmarked credible online national and regional dailies, foundations, and the two local papers to secure a day’s view of unfolding events.

Unfortunate how national issues have been politicized and weaponized, derailing reason and civility—the treasured aspects of healthy debates.

Domestically, the political contest here should pick up heavy decibels going into the final week of this month. Moreover, rumors abound that big bucks would play a big role in the election. It creates a case of self-betrayal versus lying where the attractive option for the voter is the latter.

The sum of $150 to $300 is more than sufficient to turn a voter against his will. The only thing that matters is his largess, not the collective future of his people. Would like to know who’s paying and how much so I could prepare my Christmas stocking for my share of the loot.

Remember the $1 million free utilities in the last election? Would this be repeated or is it an old trick? Or has the firm come up with something better?

Be that as it may, there are local and federal laws against vote buying. Punishment is fairly severe, in addition to all the unsolicited negative publicity that comes with it. Take note: Authorities are listening and watching!

I approach the Washington contest from the standpoint of the larger picture transcending political ambition. Seniority is an issue to guard given its validity pushing NMI interest in the U.S. Congress. Kilili has the requisite credentials, plus he’s done well for the NMI.

Matters: You peep into basic issues like healthcare if there had been major strides beyond its restful ICU unit. None! You can’t blame management for it has to contend with some $13 million in the hole. We ask how much was it given under the fiscal year 2019 budget. It needs millions of dollars.

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The number of employees on the poverty income bracket is an issue that we need to address and hopefully secure an understanding of the whys. Is it predicated on the lack of healthy private industry expansion or a combination of a set of facts? It is bothersome and leadership must probe it to the hilt. You can’t leave employees in this category to suffer from your obvious negligence!

•••

Again, we see the reassertion of an improving economy that is supposed to increase wages and salaries in subsequent months. There’s nothing up that alley. So where did this improvement go? Or is the concept one that is completely misunderstood and have been spouted loosely too?

Income: The minimum wage here is now $7.25 an hour, it was trumpeted in the news. It instantly prompts the query: what’s the strength of the dollar? Isn’t it $0.33, therefore the minimum wage is realistically at $2.31 an hour?

The process may be cumbersome but it’s time to address the “living wage” issue that takes into account the actual cost of living on the islands. It we arrive at an established amount I’m sure the next journey is its attainment. Could we navigate the treacherous waters we often refer to as “Da `Kanamee?”

Our saving grace amidst the deepening filial hardship has been and still is the powerful culture of sharing. Lucky we live on an island where caring is a strong aspect of daily living. Imagine if it were otherwise!

The nearly 15,000 employees earning poverty income here is itself troubling. It’s a reflection of a stagnant economy though the opposite is being trumpeted. Must settle down and look at this phenomenon beyond biba.

Definitely, it requires a factually healthy economy that lifts all boats. If we don’t do our homework then Da Boysis on the hill will be looking down at the deep blue to figure out tidal shift. Is it hard calling up EMO for the right information?

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Kilili moves to include the NMI under federal law governing SNAP. It’s an outstanding plan that compromises the ability of shortsighted politicians here from compromising the needs of the poor. Ideology sounds good when writing white paper but not when people are actually struggling to put food on the dinner table.

••• 

Listening: I’ve kept my ears to the ground for some sense of direction where troubled paradise is headed in the near-term. Silence! Oh? There’s the consensus of leadership stuck in a vacuum. Appalling!

Indeed, it takes a visionary with a realistic set of plans to move the archipelago somewhere beyond lamañana or conventional wisdom. I still haven’t seen anyone with this caliber, sadly.

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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