Burning our bridge

For over four decades we worked in partnership with friends from Japan build the local economy. It was their lifetime wealth that they invested here over the years. It’s a relationship worthy of strengthening at all cost.

But in our moronic adolescency, we insulted them with boastful arrogance as if we could afford being on our own. Doesn’t the NMI have any mature sense of gratitude and understanding of our historic relations with friends from Japan?

Nippon investors simply shut their investments and headed home. How sad the retarded realization that we’ve burned our most reliable bridge to economic opportunities. It’s gone—a costly juvenile demeanor.

The loss of $7 billion in Nippon investments here in recent years wasn’t triggered by limited land terms. It’s the display of adolescent arrogance against well-meaning investors.

Nippon investors walked with their luggage to airplanes. It terminated and dismantled JAL services, sold Hotel Nikko and other major investments and headed home. Have we recovered the $7 billion loss from other daydream investments? Or are we still dumbfounded by immaturity while reeling from a huge decrease in revenues? Despicable the price of arrogance and ignorance!

We’ve had a history with a small apparel industry that faded into history when China entered the World Trade Organization. The federal government revoked local authority over immigration and minimum wage laws that further exacerbated economic contraction. Hoped for some appreciable opening for economic growth and development when I happened upon an observation by an economist.

Said he, “[The] CNMI’s small size precludes the development of a self-sufficient economy capable of providing its people with a decent standard of living. Throughout most of its history, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands subsisted on fish, crops, and not much more. Today, the population is not large enough to produce the wide array of goods and services that are the characteristic of a modern economy.” Is there hope in our economic future other than subsistence farming and fishing?

Expectations: The elected elite is tasked to reassess and realign priorities for 2019. Hope there could be changes in favor of depth of perception, clarity, gratitude, conviction and commitment.

For now, an economic plan is in order that addresses the 15,000 employees stuck in poverty income or wages and salaries. Imagine the hardship families endure as a result of insufficient wages and salaries. It turns hardship into the daily order of business from dawn to dusk.

Poverty income is between $15K and $42K, its strength dependent upon number of people per household. If I may reiterate, some 15,000 employees are relegated to this income level and have yearned for better days ahead. Is there a plan to address this incongruity?

Your inadequacies placed them there!

Equality: The idea of providing relief to the poorer sector of the indigenous population is fine. But when it involves “equal protection” issues it’s best you take a step back and reassess such intention.

Isn’t there a standard on income threshold where one seeks help under various health programs, federal and local? Why would we deviate from it? We must learn dealing with equal protection for all U.S. citizens and bid adios to the political protection under the agreement that isn’t likely to stand muster before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ours has been rendered polite niceties for purposes of keeping the peace. Is it premised on equal protection for all citizens?

Culture: There’s the occasional warning about cultural loss. Interesting that none of the paragons of tradition has ever defined Chamorro culture, losses and its maintenance. It seems a baseless warning as if the sky is falling.

It appears a new angle to talk about the issue ad infinitum and without foundation. Is it new speech material? Nice try!

Isn’t culture a way of life? What’s its foundation? What has changed in significant ways? How do you shield it from change? What do you recommend as realistic paradigms to guard against any change and loss?

We preach one thing but grandly ignore the very issue we use daily at home in the substitution of the local language with English. Did you get that, pal?

Language is culture! Herein lies the real challenge! Has this issue been formally addressed so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing? Or are we addressing it on a superficial level just to deliver ill-conceived speeches? Isn’t this the equivalence of grand hypocrisy?

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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