Thursday, April 05, 2007

The new CNMI Lobbyist aka Back to the Future

Let's be clear on what the CNMI government has done -- again -- in laying out $90,000 plus to hire another lobbyist. They have taken public money from all of us for the benefit of local employers to the detriment of the working poor. Fortunately, if news reports are correct, they chose such an inappropriate and ineffective lobbyist that they'll merely "just" be wasting money they don't have.

Far from acting in the interest of the poor and needy, this government is trying to make sure wages stay low with a large third world labor supply so that no one with a blue passport wants a job in the private sector for a meager $3.05 per hour. Far from being fiscally conservative, as many people in this island passionately claim to be, this insures more welfare and all the related problems with sitting around all day doing nothing: crime, alcoholism, poor diet and worst of all, poor parental examples for children that infect the schools and make education, the real solution, way more difficult. Who wins with this: Employers and those already in the bureaucracy, particularly those with nonsense jobs whose only real marketable job skills are political connections. Who loses, everyone else, especially those actually working for the meager private sector wages here.

First off, everyone should know what a lobbyist is, and I'm rather certain not everyone does. Lobbying is a top of legalized bribery in which former legislative staffers, writers and general influence peddlers, and even former lawmakers themselves, use their contacts in government to ask for favors for their clients. The system is so hideous that banking lobbyists have been able to actually write the bankruptcy laws, pharmaceutical lobbyists set prescription drug law, and policy on virtually everything of economic value is set by the powerful, organized elite corporations while normal people fret about Britney, Anna Nicole Smith, professional sports and all the other pop cultural piddle that passes for news these days.

Often times lobbyists take these lawmakers to vacation resorts to seduce them, such as what infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff did when he wined and dined Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, at Lau Lau Golf Course and put him up in the Hyatt here in Saipan. In return, Delay made sure our meager wages and easy immigration continued. Delay left office in disgrace and more civilized people took over Congress in November for the first time in a while, so now the CNMI runs the only play in their aging and unimaginative playbook: Hire a lobbyist and try to scrape out a few more years of our dying economic system. Type in Delay and Saipan on Google and all the sordid and well documented details from many sources will appear.

Some people, and not all of them idiots I'll admit, are out there making the argument that "the time is not right," we have our "economic crisis," so let's just wait. Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you read the history of the civil rights movement, many made the "you're right, but the time is not right" argument. Martin Luther King famously retorted that "Justice delayed is justice denied." Segregationists would bitterly complain about outsiders telling them what to do as the Freedom Riders assisted in integrating the South. I would say the two situations have their similarities if you listen to the rhetoric over the frightful "federalization."

Others offer the "unique place argument," but just once I'd like to see someone explain how people are supposed to pay the highest food, gas, power and medicine prices in America on the lowest wages in America . This absurdity is what is unique. We expect people to be Houdinies.

In short, there is one simple bottom line: This government took tax money from people making $3.05 to try to make sure these same people never make more than $3.05 -- yet again. They didn't even have the ideological consistency to let private business to hire their own lobbyist to try to rig the system. All these things are obvious to see and easily verifiable with a little intellectual curiosity and even a slightly operational BS detector. Until the people of the CNMI wake up to what is going on around them, and stop voting for these same people to do these same things, this type of nonsense will continue. Frankly, and I speak directly to all the working poor making $3.05 or perpetually unemployed and simultaneously quiet about local affairs: If you are so indifferent or ignorant to let this lobbyist and government sponsored fight to keep your wages low without protest of this government effort in your name, you probably deserve $3.05 per hour.


The Saipan Blogger said...

wow. powerful words. great post.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Thanks. I'm surprised you haven't been more on board on this issue. Our elections here have all the substance of a high school student council race, which I'm sure you know. Waiting for this local bunch to solve the problem is a Godot style experience to put it mildly. I wonder if the CNMI wasn't eligible for American welfare, how popular Miller and federalization would be here. Something tells me the view would be different. You can't take all those federal dollars and still bitch about "federalization" as the boogie man. It is kind of being a kid and the house rules that go along with no rent, free food and a permanent safety net. Grew up and be independent, and then make your minimum wage 10 cents if you want. When the Republicans were in charge, the parent set no curfew and a twinkie diet was acceptable. Now the evil stepmother wants some accountability.

Bev said...

welcome back!

bradinthesand said...

it's about time you came back, and you did so with some oomph, some bam, some pow. all you need to do now is grab a megaphone and stand in front of the offices atop capitol hill in full on preacher mode so they can hear you. that and buy me a beer you bald bassist you.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Well, right now I'm sort of forced to pick my battles. Long story. I'll write about it in my memoirs.

But hiring the lobbyist was stupid. Think of what Beautify CNMI could have done with $90,000. Investing that $90K on this island would have done more for our economy.

Like the voice in the cornfield said, "If you build it, they will come...and I'm not talking about a monorail in the Grotto."

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

They hear me. Individually in my one on one conversations with elected officials, these people know what the right thing to do is, and will make sensible comments and judgments, but as a group, they turn into lord of the flies or something.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they hear you. . . Actually, they just tell you what they think you want to hear. I speak from long experience with these guys. I've never talked with one who didn 't tell just what I wanted to hear. You could say the moon was made of green cheese, and they'd agree with you. They may not know much, but they know politics.

Tina Sablan is, and will be different. Although stating exactly what she feels and believes in, has subjected her to tremendous personal attack, she has not waivered.