Repeating failure

It wasn’t long ago when the apparel industry here was shut down via the collective effort of the U.S. garment industry in search for an even playing field in competition. The industry pressed the U.S. Congress for it.

Unfairness includes: 1). Paying far less than the federal minimum wage then. 2). We don’t pay federal taxes like stateside apparel companies do annually.
There was methodical paralysis implemented with the pull of the rug, known here as local control of immigration, that permanently shuttered the industry. Came the inclusion of China in the World Trade Organization that gave it an even shot at global competition. It’s all about fair competition that took an action of the U.S. Congress to bring the NMI to its knees.

Now, take a critical look at the casino business here that is headed down the same path: 1). Doesn’t pay federal taxes while those in the U.S. pay their share. 2). Casino income isn’t taxed, unlike places like Macau that imposes a 39-percent tax on money rolling across the table. 3). Untaxed casino money in the billions is repatriated to China or elsewhere without a penny accruing to either the federal or local treasury.

Obviously, this anomaly doesn’t grant the U.S. casino industry any room to maneuver so it keeps more of the income it generates. It’s unfair to the industry across the sea, no matter how you dice, splice or slice it. Would U.S. casino industry firms keep silent at this woefully unfair level of competition? Wouldn’t they bring this to the attention of their representatives in the U.S. Congress for some legal remedy?

The negative effect of this anomaly would adversely affect us when Congress uses its fine-toothed comb on all entitlement assistance, including the millions of dollars for basic infrastructure the NMI begs for annually. I wouldn’t doubt they’d tighten the nook until this side of the Pacific responsibly imposes reasonable income tax on all pennies, nickels and dimes rolling across betting tables in downtown Garapan. Fiscal sufficiency is a major part of self-government, di ba?

Hush! Policymaking is an interesting fiduciary duty that extends beyond the chambers of the Legislature or administration building. I would be demonstrating how tailbones upstairs are hidden and hooked to tailgates of generous sugar daddies feeding our esteemed folks on the hill. It’s what I call “unaccountability” where the elected elite decides issues without our participation.

Home: A stubborn issue that keeps popping up pertains to the first family home. Folks from all walks of life have worked long and hard to build what we all call “home.” It’s a place where children make lasting memories growing up until they establish their own elsewhere. Home is central to strengthening the family unit and our community.

It isn’t the sentimental aspect of home that I find troubling as much as the ability of our people to pay for it throughout the duration of the loan that runs about 20-30 years. I remember the pain of being jobless and came close to losing the only family home I had in the mid-’80s. It was a devastating thought until I found job and resumed payment. It took a loss of another property to make up for it.

It raises valid questions, like how many of those who have taken home loans in recent past could actually make it through the duration? Have you taken out real estate or life insurance to cover such cost in the event of death so your family isn’t instantly homeless? What are the chances of your holding on to your current job and have you checked your astrology if you’d be healthy for another 20 years?

That I have seen the depth of joblessness against the obligation to pay for the only family home forces this discussion so all may begin reviewing what lies ahead beyond mañana. Is there a better way to building a safe, secure and sanitary family home beyond humongous institutional loans?

Yes! With a little creativity and ingenuity we could raise the sail on our canoe for an all-day fishing trip in the deep blue, assured of coming home with tons of catch for everyone.

Friends, one can never forget the familiar sounds and sights of home, e.g., echo of the northern trade winds at a distance, the waves working up a storm in the Philippine Sea, the rainbow chasing dark clouds into the sunset; and melodic bird songs in marshland around Susupe Lake.

Sunshine: We come from the tropics where there’s plenty of sun, sea, and sand. We frolic and fish in the water when we want to do so for fun and sustenance. There’s plenty of sunshine!

At the same time we quiz if there’s sufficient sunshine in the people we’ve elected to represent us up on the hill? How many are faithfully humming Silent Night all night?

You watch them as the party moves through the night. They lose the ability to speak with simple common sense as they load themselves with alcohol out of frustration. They finally had to be assisted as they wobble to their cars to head home, singing a garbled version of their Felis Navidat.


Inconsistency: The business community here wants a CW extension and is hopeful of its adoption by summer, a position riddled with contradiction.

The NMI has a 21-percent unemployment rate or 1,500 unemployed locals. So how does the business sector justify extension when it is also half the problem of unemployment here?

The redundant chorus reminds me of an adage by Mark Twain, “Everybody talks about the weather,” he said, “but nobody does anything about it.”

Understood the heavy expense involved in training locals plus the obligation that they are paid higher per federal minimum wage law over CWs. But then doing is known as assimilation, where the business community becomes a part of the local community. Or is this too difficult a concept?

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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