Ghostly No. 80!

The Democrat and independent parties have united recently, dropping anchor to solidify strategic plans in preparation for this year’s gubernatorial race.

Keynote speaker former lieutenant governor Jesse Borja didn’t mince words, slamming the incumbent administration for approving an 80-percent salary increase for the elected elite.

Republicans did it without blinking, then came out hushing that the issue be avoided altogether. Isn’t it clear that people could see through your veil of deceit? Why chance playing Santa Claus in July? “What a tangled web we weave when we first start to deceive!”

You conceived it, received it, then tried to deceive the voters? It’s 80 stories high, visible from any point in the archipelago!

It’s an issue that has turned against itself (GOP) for taking care of “me, myself and I” over the hardship of thousands of employees and their families stuck in the filthy swamp of poverty income and below levels. It’s a tough cookie to undo, given it was founded on greed and arrogance, ignoring half the workforce drowning in the swamp of poverty.

But the issue would definitely take prominence and center stage this election year. It’s a trophy for Democrats, a self-inflicted monstrosity for Republicans. Without acrimony, let’s present our views in straightforward fashion with a sense of maturity and civility to ensure the electorate is informed with a set of facts before Nov. 6.

Warriors: I’ve kept a note of old warriors I met more than 40 years ago. These were the folks who worked hard with a sense of humility to fulfill constitutional self-government that came to fruition in 1978.

Sadly, many have taken their final canoe sail into the sunset. A few others are still around in quiet retirement with their families. In their own little ways their contributions focused on what’s good for the NMI. They generously put their best foot forward, guiding our canoe to safe port. We made it and we’ve been here since 40 years ago.

Without risking redundancy, a few are blessed with the unique distinction shouldering with untiring dedication and resiliency the collective dreams and aspirations of our people forward. We made in 1978 upon the establishment of our constitutional government.

Tidings: We hear the comforting tidings of economic improvement while simultaneously we hear the discordant decibels of heavy cumulative deficit. It’s good to find out what’s the financial posture of the NMI.

It would seem to me critically dangerous relying upon a mono-economy in tourism to cover the basic needs of the NMI. It fluctuates and at the mercy of everything that happens in Japan and nearby Asian countries.

What if a disaster or geopolitical conflict pops up or escalates? It instantly derails tourism, whether we like it or not. Any plans to take the economy beyond accepted conventional wisdom? Why are we so content relying on superficial contentment?

Just the fact that the NMI owes the Retirement Fund some $789 million (unfunded liability) is itself troubling. But it’s good the economic uptick granting the local government the opportunity to pay debts and obligations in some responsible way.

Our southern neighbor is into a “to and fro” debate how to fund the Guam Memorial Hospital. The shortfall isn’t an internal negligence but forced upon GovGuam when the Trump tax cut whittled away. It had to scramble to make up the $160 million in order to preserve millions of dollars it receives in other federally funded programs today.

Freebies: The Golden State, California, “has the highest poverty rate in the country,” per the U.S. Bureau of Supplemental Poverty measure. One in five people in California is living in poverty and the state’s residents account for 33 percent of all those on welfare in the United States, despite the state only being 12 percent of the country’s population.

“The state spent $958 billion on welfare programs between 1992-2015. According to the study, 60 percent of Californians are jobless and living in poverty,” according to the report. It brings home the query, how much is the NMI collecting, on a cumulative basis, for food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, Medicare and other forms of help from the feds?

80-Percent Tower: Magoo heard that there’s an 80-Percent Salary Tower on Capital Hill and wanted to ensure that he attends its official opening.

He related, “I heard attendance is limited to the elected elite because they’d be handed their 80-percent salary hike of some $31,600!” He is also sure that he’d be a beneficiary of the loot by simply showing up for the event. “Eh, must learn how to look helpless and penniless too”. Gee! All that for a stale tuna sandwich?

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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