SOUR GRAPES

You two

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Posted on Sep 20 2019
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Democrat Corey Booker, a presidential candidate with a left leg some foot and a half shorter than his right, has gone over the edge and now wants a law passed to allow the federal government to license U.S. citizens to buy, sell or possess firearms. A license is an item purchased from a government granting the bearer the privilege of some act or another. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the one that guarantees the others like free speech and assembly—requires that the government shall pass no law infringing the right of its citizenry to possess and bear firearms. Corey seems to have flunked his high school civics class. The only license a U.S. citizen needs to keep and bear arms, he already has. It is a constitutionally mandated right, not a privilege to be bought.

S.2449, the Federal Firearm Licensing Act that Booker proposes, has to go down as near to a treasonous action as can be imagined. It calls for the armed imposition of an act so unconstitutional that it expects the overthrow of the current form of government in order to enact it. Armed insurrection with intent to overthrow the government is treason.

Now we have another wingnut, in the form of Beto O’Somethingorother, who advertises he will forcibly confiscate the citizenry’s firearms if elected. That should bring his poll ratings to something approaching invisibility in his home state of Texas. Once again, it would be a treasonous act unless the 2nd Amendment were to be repealed or amended by the constitutionally stipulated method, which is not bloody likely.

As Alice’s Red Queen would say, “Off with their heads.”

I’ve got gas pain
The class action lawsuit to bring Shell and Mobil to task over the alleged antitrust price fixing violations they have engaged in is still staggering along. With dead lawyers and disbarred lawyers and missing lawyers and umpteen changes of lawyers and a decade of delays so far, it’s beginning to sound like a Clinonista adventure in whitewater rafting.

On its face this is an open-and-closed issue. For decades, both of these fuel company “competitors” have charged exactly the same amount for a gallon of fuel to within 1/10th of 1 cent no matter who owned the pumping station, no matter when the fuel was purchased or for how much, no matter that the overhead of different locations would differ from other locations. The price is unlawfully fixed between these two companies and flies in the face of U.S. antitrust laws and of fair business practice here in the CNMI.

Why doesn’t the U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice call them out on this issue? Well, the CNMI provides no taxes to the United States. Worse, it provides no votes to the ruling party or its opponent, so the nice way to say it is we don’t have any juice. The amount of fuel in question here is tiny compared to the vast quantities sold in the U.S. mainland where voters and taxpayers abound. So the amount of money involved is also tiny—to everyone except the poor suckers here in the CNMI that have to pay it out of their ever shrinking wallets. Well, not everyone’s wallet is shrinking. Jim and Ricky aren’t doing too badly. The rest of us are paying way over the average gas price plus the extra cost of shipping it here from Singapore. Way over. It’s good to be the monopoly, or in this case the price-fixing duopoly.

Even when they change prices, it is with a handshake under the table and a wink-wink-nod-nod “You go first this time, I’ll go next” agreement and, within hours, both companies are back to charging the same exact price for their needed commodity, fuel.

The chances of this class action suit producing any results is not losing Jimmy or Ricky any sleepless nights. So just keep shoveling that extra buck or two per gallon you pay out to get Shell and Mobil’s gas out of their tanks into yours. Pucker up and take it like a man. It is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Maybe we could show that at least we notice we are being gouged by not buying any gas at all on Tuesdays. Just don’t go there at all on Tuesdays. They might notice that we, their customers, notice. I’ll start. No gas buying for me on Tuesdays. Ice cream maybe, but no gas. Feel free to join in. “Nada Gas Tuesdays.” Nice ring.

*Hey Tinian watermelon sellers, you should take a page out of Shell’s playbook and start charging $12 a pound for your melons. If all of you did it, who could stop you? …Maybe us watermelon eaters if we didn’t buy them on Tuesdays.

Tides out
The Outer Cove Marina is a beehive of activity every day and into the night. Only really bad weather stops the many water sports, transportation companies, tourism fishing boats and sunset cruise boats from providing much loved service to our tourist visitors longing for a bit of sun and excitement on the water.

That the CNMI government should close it will cause untold hardship for the companies who operate those tourist water services. It will drive some of them completely out of business. It will aggravate those tourists who cannot get those services, have that fun in the sun or eat that splendid meal while floating on our perfect lagoon at sunset. They will go somewhere else.

What are you thinking? Do you think that maybe someday, when you have the money, you will improve the Outer Cove? That should have been done 20 years ago, but wasn’t. To just stop access to the water and the docks without replacing that access with something that works shows poor planning and a lack of understanding of from whence come the tax dollars that provide salaries for the bureaucracy that is causing this big problem.

Trying to use the Smiling Cove simply won’t work. There is too much volume of boating for Smiling Cove to accommodate it. The channel will be clogged and traffic will come to a standstill just when it should be flowing smoothly. It will not even accommodate many of the bigger boats during the low tide. Will you try and pass a regulation to make the tide stay full? Will you perform some magic trick that will enable that tiny boat channel into the Smiling Cove hold five times the amount of traffic it will actually hold?

If I may make a suggestion: Please suck up the minor embarrassment a reversal of this not-so-brilliant decision will cause by leaving the Outer Cove Marina open and doing its job of providing sea/lagoon access to party boats, tour boats, fishing boats, sunset cruise boats, boats taking our precious tourists to Managaha, and all the other pleasure boats and business boats aching to taste the saltwater on their hulls. They won’t all fit into the Smiling Cove. Please do the math before it is too late and you have destroyed these essential businesses, the fun they provide to our visitors and the money they generate.

Thanks for reading Sour Grapes!

“This is the government your forefathers warned you about.”
— Keaton Jorgensen

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Bruce Bateman | Author
Bruce A. Bateman resides on Saipan with a wife, a son, and an unknown number of boonie dogs. He has owned and operated a number of unusual businesses and most recently worked as the marketing manager for MVA. Bruce likes to read, travel, tinker with bicycles, hike, swim, and play a bit of golf. He is opinionated and writes when the moon is full and the mood strikes.
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