Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Poverty in the CNMI

According to the United States Government Accountability Office testimony, quoting the 2000 census, 46 percent of individuals in the CNMI are living in poverty, almost four times the U.S. national rate. Median income here is $22,898, about half of the U.S. average of $42,000. These figures are from 2000 before the JAL pullout and the garment industry collapsed, so the current numbers are probably worse. That GAO report from Thursday also detailed the spending spree Governor Babauta was on. His spending was indeed a big reason for our current problems, which isn't to forgive this bunch for the new hires, Hawaii junkets, Jesus Camacho, new lobbyist et al. Compared to the last bunch, Fitial is cutting spending. It would be nice if he would really fix the CNMI so it isn't so fly by night, and combine a tax increase say on those mansions on Capitol Hill with removing more government dead weight to focus on education, public health and public safety. Property tax on a lot of those houses would be $8,000 - $12,000 in most any U.S. suburb.

Could a minimum wage increase really be so bad given those poverty numbers?

1 comment:

The Saipan Blogger said...

Poverty is also our #1 threat to the environment. People who can afford to buy SPAM fish for sport, not subsistence.

A big part of the CNMI's problem is that we don't have a product. We had textiles for a while and we have tourism, but that's about it.

I think we're taking our first steps in exporting our brand of environmentalism and maybe one day our blogs will be popular enough to support us, but there are other things we could be doing.