Long eerie echo

At sunset, I’d settle into my recliner to regroup after rummaging through tons of reading material that begins at dawn. A restful break is in order to consider sober issues calmly over contentious matters. Here goes:

Interesting the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Congress to raise the minimum wage to between $15-$20 an hour. While it would benefit millions of employees, it would equally render jobless millions of other employees. So where do we draw the line on statutory minimum wage increase?

Moreover, politicians do a perfect Houdini when debating the minimum wage versus a living wage. The latter permits the employee to pay for basics like the first family home, car, clothing, food and other needs. Would $15-an-hour cover basic family obligations?

The answer is obvious but politicians are clueless of basic economics that begins in family homes. Thus, the approval of more pennies, nickels and dimes, perpetuating incompetency!

Reportedly, Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced last weekend he will cut staffers’ hours so that they can effectively be paid a $15-an-hour minimum wage. His plans prompted mockery from critics who say, “The move is more evidence that Sanders’ plan to raise the national minimum wage is hypocritical and would only lead to less work and more unemployment.”

***

Always a pleasure hearing talk from frustrated folks about the dire need to right-size the local government. Do we really need a 29-member bicameral legislature? Does the NMI need more than 2,000 employees? With economic contraction, how do we pay for something taxpayers could no longer afford? But then the entire spout somehow turns into silent complicity.

We should follow the California state legislature in the way it pays its legislators. Each must show he’s working on major legislation (introduced) in order to receive his paycheck. If you can’t demonstrate this requirement then it means you won’t get paid! It should force the 29 members on Da Hills of Saipan to seriously consider defining fiduciary duty and come full term with what’s required of them!

Services: There are two services in government that receive the most funds on any budget year: health care and education. Anything else must line up behind these agencies.

Here’s a list of departments and agencies in the NMI: Commonwealth Health Center, Community and Cultural Affairs, Department of Public Works; Department of Commerce; Department of Labor; CNMI Legislature, Senate and House; Office of the Attorney General; Board of Parole; Board of Professional Licensing; Indigenous Affairs; Women’s Affairs; Coastal Resources Management; Commonwealth Casino Commission; Commonwealth Election Commission; Commonwealth Law Revision Commission; Ooops! Excuse me, need to breath…

Commonwealth Ports Authority; the Judiciary (Superior and Supreme courts); Commonwealth Utilities Commission; Council on Developmental Disabilities; Department of Corrections; Department of Fire and EMS; Department of Public Safety; Department of Land and Natural Resources; Department of Public Lands; Joeten-Kiyu Public Library; Veterans Affairs; MPLT; MVA; Medicaid; Settlement Fund; Housing; NMC; Personnel; Public Auditor; Public Defender; Rehabilitation; PSS; three mayors; three municipal councils; and duplicate offices of departments and agencies on Rota and Tinian.

You place the layer of government NMI-wide and you could see why we know nothing else but government. But isn’t government “we the people?” Our definition is humiliatingly misplaced like in offices and their assigned functions.

***

After41? Before we sink into complacency, what else is there to commence efforts to improve the quality of life at home? Have you given it some thought or “not yet, already?” “Quality of life” is central to your fiduciary duty, isn’t it?

Beyond domestic issues, there are matters that pertain to our relationship with our national government that need revisiting. Unless we bring the issues up with them nothing else would go anywhere other than embrace complacency and stagnancy to our demise.

If I may, an issue that merits joint review is the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the CNMI. While EEZs are the purview of a sovereign entity, e.g., our national government, it doesn’t mean the door is completely shut in exploring joint efforts relating to sharing whatever sea mine may be explored by distant fishing nations. But this takes communications with appropriate federal agencies.

This and other related issues involving clarity and refinement of relationship with the feds require some meaningful discussion with Uncle Sam. Discussion lessens confusion.

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.
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.