Forgetting Mr. Stupid!


No matter how you slice, splice, or dice the single most vital issue politicians prefer ignoring at all cost is the depressed economy. In the process, it seems they’ve learned to live smelling the powerful stench of negligence as a permanent part of their existence.

The issue, no matter how well they’ve avoided it, keeps returning like a two-headed corn snake. It’s in the famous slogan by James Carville, the shill of former President Clinton who said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Locally, “It still is the economy, stupid!”

Though there’s the dire need to address it so that work can begin domesticating the issue most politicians have sleepwalked it like clueless zombies. Now, if this is such a humongous task then why are you in the policymaking business?

Across the street (administration), the guys and gals are racing to establish travel agencies to catch the governor or lieutenant governor is their next planned junket trip. Learned that the lieutenant governor is headed to Japan and DC. It’s his debut trip and loves the notoriety that comes with a junket fully paid for by “we the people” or taxpayers.

Realistically, though, you take a cursory review of life across the archipelago and you wonder how could the people of Rota endure the horrendous prices of basic commodities twice to thrice what we pay in the business center. The price of basic commodities is criminal! Reason? Shipping costs are far too expensive than meets the eye.

Imagine shipping telephone poles after a devastating storm. The firm that sent the poles had to fork out some $8,000 for berthing at the seaport on Rota. The shipping firm was asked to itemize the cost that quickly deferred it to another office somewhere. Talk about milking consumers 1,000-3,000 percent! This needs serious probing to ensure that the “we few” greedy are put in their place!

I strongly recommend the consumer’s division at the AG’s Office take the lead to simply figure our the beastly and fecal shipping costs being charged by shipping firms on Rota.

Financial Stress: One of the leading indicators of a strong island economy is when government is in the black for at least two years. In other words, it isn’t stressed for funds to pay for hospital operations, PSS, DPS, and other financial obligations like debts to vendors such as CUC.

But the local government is in deficit by some $510 million in addition to about $789 million in unfunded liability (debt) owed the NMI Retirement Fund. It has admitted some $9 million in shortfall last fiscal year and $7 million this fiscal year. No wonder it is stressed meeting the annual fees to the Settlement Fund. Now, they’re looking for advance payment of $20 million from BSI confirming fiscal stress!

Appalling that in spite of its fiscal crisis it hasn’t taken any cost cutting measures to pare down expenses. About the only cost cutting step it has taken is holding back spending because there’s nothing to spend in view of revenue collection still heading steadily south! It now braves spending more than it collects. It’s called deficit spending!

The effects of a depressed economy have been largely eased by the golden parachute found in federal entitlement programs like food stamps, housing, Medicaid, and others. Imagine if they weren’t available. We’d be dealing with foodlessness, homelessness, and hopelessness among less fortunate families doing search and rescue from the depths of the Marianas Trench.

Though these forms of assistance are available for the poorer sector of our community I hope it isn’t taken for granted as the ultimate future of folks who wish to get out of the humiliation lining monthly for handouts because economic opportunities here have dried up. Any plans to assist our people secure meaningful jobs ahead? Don’t forget what Mr. Stupid’s (James Carville) famous coining, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Family Fabric: For generations, the family unit in these isles has held us together through thick and thin. Most have done well keeping obligations intact. It is in the family unit where parents teach their children empathy, cultural religious values, and a sense of humility, among others.

Indeed, not all families are poised to instill good discipline on their children. There are some who had to deal with what’s known as “broken homes.” Their kids become victims of alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions. It turns into dire situation where kids fend for themselves in a very scarce setting. It includes looking for their own food, clothing, school supplies, etc.

As a result of wasteful spending family environment usually turn hostile under the circumstance. And so conveying love and discipline to them could very well end up in their being physically abused. The distraction of insufficiency for basic needs turn schoolwork into another challenge often failing in class work. Even after school activities turns into some form of survival.

Family income is flushed down the toilet of alcohol, gambling and drugs. It’s usually gone before there’s time to check if food is needed or other familial obligations have been met. It’s a sad slide into what we call broken homes. Rebuilding the family unit could be done but it remains a challenge in itself for as long as parents continue sliding into their old habits.

Mom may have empathetic siblings who’d bring her and children under their roof. It is a very charitable gesture expected of local families. But while the problem may look like a solution, it equally triggers yet another set of problems for the welcoming family.

The inconvenience would force mom to look for help like housing from some charitable organization. Though she may find one how is she going to deal with monthly utility bills, securing a family car, and clothing for her kids, among other needs?

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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