Trash talk everywhere!


If it were a close football game, then the focus would be on the last quarter to see how the gladiators duke it out to secure the championship.

But it wasn’t championship talk as much as one riddled with “trash talk” about next year’s midterm election. No one seems excited about it.

Or is the mindlessness of the times a serious indication of how we’ve simply devolved into hopelessness and despair? How could we’ve easily forgotten issues we should have remembered? The lack of enthusiasm fades under the empty charge of the “solutions driven” team. Now it is morphing into “shared…” something or other.

Would someone move to center stage to carry the torch of leadership forward in the wicked cross currents of these troubled times? Or would there persist the usual dish of incoherence and disorientation that is now the hallmark of this administration?

Throw in our sails ripped and shredded for more than a decade now. The dynamics shifts in terms of the magnitude of the challenges before the elected elite. Is there any iota of hope ahead or do we wait for “dooms day?” More the reason I can’t use the term “leadership” in the previous sentence. It doesn’t exist!

Depression deepens: Economic depression and accompanying dystopia—“where nothing works”—are destined to worsen over the next year. We quiz how much revenue would disappear in actual loss, how much is the projected annual recovery, and is it a sustainable figure? There’s nothing but uncertainty on every corner while do-nothings sport nervous VIP façade.

Taking a stand: Somewhat admirable though Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres’ recent take before the Rotary Club how the recent superstorm pried open veiled issues of the NMI “…thought to be too difficult to address, too painful to look at, and so rooted in inactivity that it spells political doom to speak freely about their existence.”

He was troubled that our children are surviving on food stamps and school lunches. He said the real tragedy isn’t in natural disasters “but by our inability to speak honestly of the existence of poverty.” The assessment is simple and truthful and opens up opportunities for us to engage in deliberative discussions how to resolve a deepening social anomaly.

I’m sure he also feels the very unsettling dimming of fiscal recovery that would get worse before it gets any better. It’s a wild swing we all must learn to live with. What if economic conditions deepen and losses triple or quadruple? Are there realistic fiscal options for the NMI? Would this be the third “unseen” disaster in total fiscal bankruptcy?

Under worse fiscal scenario, would Washington offer a bail out of sort? Or would it instruct the NMI, like it did Puerto Rico, to look for entitlements in DC over cash bailout? It’s time to pull back that insatiable appetite to spend beyond our means, right? Well, it’s a canoe in real troubled waters the crew preferring to be victims than head to the nearest shore. Would the projected FY ‘16 budget of $145 million be realized or would it be a day late and millions of dollars short?

Happy and comforting though Torres’ courage to “tell it like it is”!

Issues on the trail: The creeping fiscal paralysis breeds a myriad of significant uncertainty in the immediate term. Sadly, it isn’t an issue that could quickly be glimpsed physically though you could feel the temblor on the floor crashing heavily. Why brave rearranging the chairs on the titanic after it topples over? But this is the way it’s done in “da island nai.” Suzzzz!

You see, we need money to pay for the pension of 3,000 retirees, education for our children, healthcare for everyone, diesel fuel for CUC to keep the island bright at night, among others. Whatever is left in the FY ‘16 budget, you need to give CHC and PSS not less than $86 million for their basic operational needs.

More so than any other issue, it is with powerful intuition that I see the eventual death of the casino industry on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. Global events showing casino taking serious shutter aren’t helping the NMI any. Even as I venture saying this there’s that faint desire that it works as a mini component of the tourism industry. Anything else is but a pipe dream!

People, I am going to win both the battle and war on this score! Yes, the army from our sacred and spiritual ancestors would chime in everyday to right what’s gone wrong in paradise. In the vernacular, “siempre infan mana’ hineddan pot para u guaha respetu gi tradision finana’guen guelu!”

Partnership: We had something to share at the outset of tourism here in the late sixties. It blossomed so quickly then gradually withered until it’s dead and gone. We intone, “Where have all the flowers gone?” What went wrong? Was the issue generational industriousness that ran out of gas or just what is it that killed that meaningful partnership?

A glimpse at what happened is itself a tale we later realize was as devastating as a stealth superstorm. At the outset, there was the partnership between investor and host that gave the latter a chance to partake in the new investment. But this relationship somehow died out in less than two decades. Main investor turned complacent and couldn’t care less of the fate of local partners who waited for some guidance. Eventually, both folded!

What went wrong? Are the Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and other fiscally poised investors fearful we might learn how to run our own businesses? Why was it ignored altogether? Was our ignorance in business startups a drawback? Wasn’t it the very issue that should have been capitalized and nurtured to foster stronger partnership?

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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