Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where's the outrage, MV 2

My second installation of Bold is Beautiful is out.

A story appeared in this paper last week putting the pay of 1,080 PSS employees up in the air, and no one much flinched. Another appeared about a woman who was basically used as a slave locked in her barracks lacking the freedom to even go to her church -- maybe a shrug was offered. Another story appeared about a rotting canine corpse on the road heading toward our most scenic area in Marpi -- a mere ripple at best. These things may seem unrelated, but what they tell me is that we have lost our outrage, and when horrible things happen, we half expect them and aren't surprised anymore, and that's not a good way to live. There are two approaches to these events, to surrender or to fight.

I can't say I was shocked at the casual approach the vast majority of my peers took to the statement from the chief financial officer of PSS that the money was not there to pay teachers. Most teachers have long been a bunch of comatose lumps in terms of standing up for themselves --even while being threatened with a crime called theft of services, which most every teacher I talked to blew off and dismissed as a ploy. It probably was a ploy, but it is bad for morale and we have come to the point where the government can basically threaten a crime on its citizens and it doesn't matter -- it's barely news. By the end of the week there still were no assurances that teachers would not be cheated, and the Saipan Tribune didn't even think this event newsworthy. I did eventually get an email from ACT President Betty Miller quoting Commissioner David Borja saying PSS found a way to make payroll, but a $36.7 million budget is needed to avert a crisis during the school year. I presume the details on that are forthcoming from the commissioner.

Secondly, this government talks about our problems about human trafficking being in the past, but then we read another story about a woman being locked in her barracks and forced into prostitution. I don't think the Stardust allegations, soon to go to trial, were very different. This event doesn't mean Saipan is an evil place any more than the U.S. mainland is an evil place because of all the horrible violent incidents there from Virginia Tech to Abu Gharib, but it does say there is a problem. This event shouldn't be used as an excuse for federalization -- there are better reasons than this alleged act. Federalization should happen because it is immoral to exploit the third world on American territory to create an inflated labor supply that leaves an unsustainable, bloated, inefficient government as the sole provider of living wages. Those indigenous citizens not in the bureaucracy are left in the cold as few private sector jobs pay a living wage and too many politicians wield power over a vile patronage system run amok.

Jane Mack, an attorney for Micronesian Legal Services, a non-profit law office that represents the poor in civil litigation, is part of a group playing a role in trying to fix this trafficking problem. She noted that the first step in fixing this problem is acknowledging the problem exists given all the emotion about the federalization debate. "It's not just old news. The women from Karidat who testified in Washington D.C. weren't making up numbers. And the girls and women who are trafficked into the CNMI are, in fact, victims. It is important that politics not get in the way of referrals of victims to Karidat. We shouldn't sweep any current situations under the rug to hide them in the hopes that we'll somehow look better while we argue about federalization."

There was also a letter from PAWS President Katie Busenkell about seeing a charred dog on the road up to Marpi, followed by another suffering dog with a chain collar imbedded in its neck ridden with flies. No tourist is going to enjoy the canine Sunni Triangle for vacation, and what can be a bigger turn off than a charred animal corpse? Busenkell said she sees the same tolerance for the awful, but doesn't think it is an acceptable reaction. "I think people are numbed, but rather than do something, they revert to a convenient blindness. PAWS wanted to do a slogan that says open your eyes, open your heart, save a life. Don't just pass by and do nothing. See that suffering and do something about it. When you take action, you have a positive impact on the community. Stop just driving by."

PAWS is doing something by rescuing as many of these dogs as it can and raising awareness by educating the public. Beautify CNMI is also doing something. Just this weekend a group of volunteers fought back against hoodlums who disrespected the lighthouse and began painting what was a vile, graffiti laden monument. All of these groups are private organizations, yet all get a tremendous amount done without a huge government apparatus. Perhaps there is a lesson there. We should keep up the fight and keep our outrage.

Editor's note: This time I butchered a few transitions. This column thing is harder than I thought it would be, as I'm not making the sweet music I expect of myself just yet. This one is liberal enough to piss off a few people I suppose.


Katie said...

Jeff - you did a nice job on this article. Thanks for trying to shake the community.

Marianas Eye said...

You're doing great. I didn't notice any rough transitions. Columns are a different sort of literary creature -- almost a non-literary creature. It used to take me four to six hours to write one of these things. Give it time. You have a great voice. The music will come.


Jeff said...

Thanks guys. I have a couple ideas early in the week for the next couple, which helps.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I noticed you recycled one of your articles last week, David.