‘Some degree of blood’

Posted on Dec 09 2011
By John S. DelRosario Jr.
Contributing Author

A new legislative initiative proposes to shift landownership qualification to the courts where one must prove “some degree of blood.” What’s the likely consequence of this proposal when it is effectively transferred to the courts?

Firstly, it should be understood that had legislators sufficiently researched their materials on DNA they would have discovered that while the procedure could identify the make-up of a person, it isn’t equipped to identify one’s race or ethnicity. Neither is it equipped with the technological wherewithal to determine what percentage of your blood is Chamorro, Carolinian, Pinoy, Irish, Russian, etc. Thus comes major fallacy No. 1!

This makes the proposal fodder for comedy material that David Letterman and Jay Leno could use on their late-night monologue. Why can’t this be premised on genealogy and U.S. citizenship? Are advocates of indigenous landownership aware that the same constitutional provision provided a political definition of NMD that qualified non-indigenous people? So what’s your point? How about growing up?

Obviously, the NMI Constitution is a descendant of the U.S. Constitution where the right to own property falls under what’s known as immutable “natural” rights. It’s a right that can’t be infringed nor violated. When do we begin to come to terms with the natural rights of citizens being quite different and apart from civil rights? Believe me, the two rights aren’t synonymous. Natural rights aren’t societal grants or those issued by the government. We are born with it!

Stunningly humiliating to know that those who peddle Article 12, calling it “protection,” do not understand that the CNMI isn’t a collectivist society. Are you saying it’s perfectly fine to replace over 400 years of individual landownership so that everybody becomes part-owner of privately owned land today?

Why can’t you be honest that what you’re peddling is political dictation so full private landownership remains dangling? Since when is ownership partly owned? Isn’t this a violation of the principle of ownership? What’s the net effect of such form of ownership in terms of family economics? Does it hurt you to see landowners take full control of disposition of their land? Is it because it removes your receiving commissions from people you could ably “tell what to do and what’s good for them?”

Obviously, elitist and exhausted politicians wish to hold on to power and would capitalize upon the emotions of the ill-informed to stay in office. They have to use dishonest rhetoric or demagoguery, hoping to continue telling us what to do or what’s good for us. But let’s put them through a test by asking: Is the deepening economic disaster-the trophy of disastrous economic hardship-the gift you’ve wrapped for governance this Christmas? Is this “experienced” leadership caught sleeping on the job? Nothing can be further from the truth!


Loss of competitive edge 

It is said that help often comes to those who help themselves. Have we honestly helped ourselves by doing things right? Or is the answer a highly suspect affirmative? Indeed, it’s difficult trying to fix a broken million pieces puzzle right in the middle of a chaotic economy lurching toward total bankruptcy.

Over the last three decades, we lost a fundamental provision that helps the CNMI in its economy, specifically control over immigration and minimum wage. This setback turned into a pile of more difficulties when the World Trade Organization removed quotas on manufactured products from Asian countries.

This took the wind out of the CNMI’s competitive edge, i.e., export of finished garment products into the U.S. in unlimited quantities, duty free. Not only did it knock out apparel manufacturing, but paralyzed all forms of future manufacturing. Was this the vision of the U.S. Congress, the total destruction of the local economy? Why wasn’t more discretion exercised to ensure new statutory and regulatory impositions didn’t sink the local economy as drastically as it did?

Understandably, immigration is solely the purview of the U.S. Congress. But there’s also the view that Uncle Sam was too paternalistic and quick in his disposition of this issue. It drained the local economy of some healthy revenues from the apparel industry that once generated some $1.2 billion annually.

It also depleted the local economy of foreign capital or investments of some $3 billion to $5 billion, triggered by uncertainty of the future under federal control of immigration and the imposition of federal minimum wage. I mean, do you increase wage via statute or isn’t it best to the let the market dictate it under the free enterprise system? The ultimate consequence is the bankruptcy we face from these impositions coupled by locally inflicted negligence and ruination.

Woefully troubling though is how easily we’ve shoved aside responsible disposition of matters of state. Have we owned up to our responsibilities as U.S. citizens to strengthen our democratic institutions? Could we name one issue where we’ve excelled on this score? Zero sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?

Is the Retirement Fund self-sustaining? Have we resolved the rising cost of health care and the domino effects of a disastrously chaotic economy? Why is the CNMI a very unsafe visitor destination? Isn’t tourism our last economic pillar? These are substantive self-government issues we’ve treated with a 10-foot pole and there’s no one else to blame but ourselves. The feds didn’t partake in the election of titular heads and policymakers on the islands. We did it since 1978.

When major foreign investors started deploying elsewhere, did we put our best foot forward to figure out what triggered their planned departure or assisted them in any form or fashion? Did we meet with them to mitigate turning private industries into “killing fields” of businesses? Or did we simply ignore them, contented that the days of opulence will go on in perpetuity? Has it moved in tandem with missed opportunities to work and nurture lasting economic partnership?

It seems the journey to Debt Cliff is shorter now than ever before. I’m not sure how we rearrange the chairs on the deck when the ship has toppled over. It seems dystopia-meaning where nothing works-has devoured these isles, sailing toward economic oblivion. Is there economic freedom for our children?

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