Laboratory of economic freedom


The CNMI is a sleepy laboratory of economic freedom. It could easily lift itself out of the deepening economic mess if and, only if, it works up the resolve to do something to begin a new path to growth. The sail is already flapping in the wind. Our canoe is sail-ready. It only needs a confident navigator to steer it into the safe port of economic freedom.

Who among 31 elected elite is ready to navigate our sinking canoe out of the harbor of bankruptcy? Is there anyone among you who’s willing to brave the task of helping the crew sail into some safe harbor somewhere? Or is the task difficult to undertake and fulfill? What aspect of the trip do you find hard? Is it your navigational skills in the use of the swells, stars, wind and current in the open waters? Isn’t the canoe navigation-ready?

Difficult the first leg of the journey may be, I remain optimistic we could join the captain sail our canoe to the open waters of economic opportunity. It may be a rough trip but a trip worth taking and risking to ensure greater opportunities ahead for the folks we left along the shore waving, with a sense of hope that our journey would be one of great success. We can do it and guide our canoe into the harbor or laboratory of economic freedom we so rightly deserve. Shall we sail, today?

The CUC debacle

CUC isn’t equipped with the political wherewithal to make decisions on the privatization of the agency. It does a good job with maintenance of the old system. Its decision to institute efficiency in its operations is indeed subject to interpretation. But what’s literally at issue here?

Indecisions of key policymakers!

We wish to talk and talk and talk, occasionally punctuated by all-expenses-paid junkets to nearby Asia. Eh, throw in the taxpayer-paid junkets beyond Guam. The guys and gals wish to revisit the golden skies to see if it still has its hue and color when viewed from upstairs. Why not just charter a chopper for a quick visit to the dome upstairs?

The Wiseman court has thrown out the power purchase agreement, saying the former governor can’t sole-source the contract. Interesting the erroneous attribution that it’s a $190 million deal. Did reporters verify this by actually paging through the contract? Isn’t it more like $70 million and a 10-percent cut against the prevailing power rates? CUC isn’t off the hook as yet. It’s best that the case is heard in federal court in the interest of justice.

Rep. Janet Maratita declared it a “victory” for the NMI. With CUC destined to keep passing additional expenses to power ratepayers as to make power unaffordable, where in this scenario do you see a victory for taxpayers? Power bills will keep increasing, health premium has just gone up by 40-45 percent, the cost of basic goods are spiking, health deductibles and medication also increased while you folks take to junketing at taxpayers’ expense? Sorry, we the taxpayers aren’t as dumb as we look!

Senselessness aplenty

Battered we may be, it’s the net result of indecisions and inactions of policymakers on the hill. I’d like to think the steady pulse of hardship is as temporary as morning dew. But village sentiment says otherwise. No rocket science stuff either.

People pine for leadership, any leadership! They no longer could deal with the pile of increases in the cost of living here. Interesting, though, the attitude among policymakers who have joined the chorus, convinced they too are victims of their own self-inflicted inactions and indecisions.

Really? Familiar refrain I’ve heard recently in Obama’s SOTU where he grandly failed to find a scapegoat for his failed policies. His rhetoric is his own nemesis. Here at home, inaction and warped perception or misperception hasn’t been of help to the suffering multitude.

I honestly demand to know from policymakers what do they really make of the persistent debilitating livelihood of people they represent upstairs. Interesting to probe the root of their apathy, insensitivity and persistence in sinking the conditions of villagers as a direct result of mediocrity. Or is it the people in the villages who missed their cue in the senselessness descending from upstairs?

Retirees vs health premium woes

It’s aggravatingly mind-numbing to learn that the increase in health premiums has rendered some retirees “negative” income. In other words, when the new increase kicked in, their paycheck is loaded with zeroes and even if they pile with their check stubs, it remains a huge fat zero income.

Some have decided to pull out of the health premium program altogether in order to meet family needs. It’s really sad the condition upon which they are forced to decide: food for the family without health coverage or health premiums without food.

Indeed, some have decided to forego paying the new increase in health premiums. The system games this family when loved ones need medical attention. Would they qualify for Medicaid? If not, then how do we help them? Can Gov. Inos and our illustrious Delegate Kilili offer some respite to the displaced group of retirees?

Furthermore, I can’t quite understand pushing for Obamacare when it has failed and disrupted lives across the country for millions of citizens. Why do we accept it here carte blanche fashion? Whatever happened to the geniuses in the administration and Kilili’s office on an issue that has floored family income down to zero? Are we supposed to accept this mandate in servile fashion too because someone failed to see the tsunami of increases headed our way?

Where was the 29-member Legislature on this score? Out for another prolonged luncheon? We can’t even handle the debacle of the retirement program and this issue and we’re spouting for more self-government?

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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