Monday, October 01, 2007

A future Bush appointee in our midst

Remember when Tom Delay talked about the CNMI as the perfect petri dish of capitalism. Well now that the federalization situation is about to conclude in a way that ends our current failed model, here comes the fear mongering and the general obfuscation. Our work force will be "drained," unless of course it's "flooded." Capitalism offers a simple way to stop that problem of fleeing workers, one even Bruce Bateman would appreciate, and it's called paying people enough to make them want to stay.

"Heck of a job, Brownie."

But don't worry about any of this because Senate President Joseph Mendiola is on the case -- a case that makes no sense whatsoever, as he guarantees every coin flip will come up heads or tails.
SENATE President Joseph M. Mendiola is urging the Bush administration to
persuade the U.S. Congress to amend the federalization bill’s nonimmigrant
status provision for long-term guest workers, saying it will “drain” the CNMI of
its workforce.
Mr. Mendiola also offers the same absurdity as the Chamber President. First it's going to drain our workforce, but at the same time it's going to overwhelm our infrastructure with a population explosion. Which one is it, Houdini? They're all going to leave, or they're all going to come. I really don't get it.

He estimated that 15,000 migrants may benefit from the proposed
nonimmigrant status program and may bring their relatives to the
islands.“Assuming 15,000 nonresident workers qualify for the nonimmigrant status
under Section 6 of S. 1634 (60 percent of alien work permits issued in 2006),
and assuming each of these qualified aliens has one spouse and two children, the
CNMI would almost immediately see an increase in population of 45,000 additional
aliens,” said Mendiola.“This would certainly put a tremendous burden on the
CNMI’s already strained Public School System, public health system, public
safety services, courts, and numerous other community services that the CNMI
government is currently pressed to provide at this time,” he added.

My guess is that $3.55, overcrowded schools for their kids, and a power plant that doesn't allow two people to make toast simultaneously on the island won't draw the liberated masses away from Guam or the mainland. I see and hear of people leaving in droves. I know people who have been looking for most any job for months. I imagine they'll leave for greener pastures, so the first idea is probably correct, not the contradictory second part.

Here is the dessert in case all of the preceding is not convoluted enough.

Mendiola said the nonresident population which stands to benefit from the move
will eventually exceed the number of local people.
The nonresident population has exceeded the number of local people for years -- by far. What is this guy talking about? Is he trying out for the Bush appointment to the Supreme Court or something?


saipanboonieman said...

this is just another example of the "go home" mentality pervasive in the islands.

lil_hammerhead said...

You know Jeff.. I almost produced a similar post myself on this today. I'm not one of the pro-feds, but I am one of the "pay people a living wage" people.

Throwing both arguments out - We'll be inundated and We won't have enough of a workforce, makes us look like we're idiots. I actually think this is some plan, however nonsensical that sounds. I believe they think they can confuse the situation so much that they think the CNMI will be granted more time for studies. I actually think that businessfolk and legislators are playing off of each other to try to make the waters seem as murky as possible.

Here's a plan.. as legislators pass a minimum wage bill that pays a living wage, and overide the Governor if he vetoes it.

saipanboonieman said...

hey,..... i dig the new layout.......

Jeff said...

I'm still working on it. Have wanted to change it up for a while. Need a day with more time to get it right.

glend558 said...

Jeff: see post #622, you read my mail...Just wrote it a bit more eloquently, as usual...

Rick Jones said...

It occurs to me that both things are possible. A good number of our labor force could leave for what they perceive as greener pastures, while an equal number that decides Saipan is the place for them could bring over immediate family members.

Although the $3.55/hour wage, which will be going up every year, seems to offend some people sensibilities, when you add in housing and medical benefits, it's actually quite a bit higher, and considerably better than most of these people can make in their own countries.

So it's entirely possible that we could have far less available labor AND a further over-stressed school system.

Jeff said...

I don't see any possible sense in running two households instead of one larger one, and then not working. The kids aren't going to live alone. That's a distinctly Korean scam. People from the third world aren't going to leave potential money unearned. The medical benefits won't apply to them as they're not coming as contract workers, and there is still a lot more money in Guam and elsewhere. I just don't see it.

lil_hammerhead said...

There's a village in Nepal where the people make approximately $8.00(US) per month. Maybe we can recruit from there and pay $16.00 a month, and of course provide medical care and barracks. We'll be doubling their salary, no with "housing" and medical care, we'll be tripling it!

It's "considerably better than most of these people can make in their own countries" - what an absurd argument this is?

lil_hammerhead said...

Wow! Color! 60+ comments on a blog post, photos, and now color.. what's going on here? A blog coup?

Rick Jones said...

Jeff - There will be a saturation point for Guam. I also didn't mention health care, just the schools, which could be flooded by new immigrant children.

LH - I'm not suggesting we get the cheapest workers we can, but the argument is not absurd, taken in context of people wanting to come here for what many consider a paltry $3.55/hour.

As a business owner, I want my people to succeed and have happy, successful lives. There's nothing more fun than sitting down at review time and giving someone that deserves it a nice raise.

That being said, there is a limit to how much you can pay someone with the excessive costs of doing business in the CNMI. If I was subject to Federal Minimum Wage as applied in the States, I'd have to let at least two of my people go, and I'm not sure how we would cover all the shifts we have.

Again, paying for housing and medical, along with Department of Labor costs, brings my employee cost up by $2.00/hour on average, so say I'm paying $5.55/hour. Does that seem like a fair wage?

The scary part is that it's going to go up every year. I've heard people say, "So what, $0.50/hour, big deal". Unfortunately, that translates to $1000/year per employee, and I will need sales of approximately five times that to cover the additional cost. Where those sales are going to come from is a mystery to me.

I still say those people righteously fighting for a living wage are those who don't have to concern themselves with paying it.

bradinthesand said...

i think it's the picture of costanza that sets this blog apart...

Jeff said...

Good points Rick. Businessmen, even the conscientious ones like you, sometimes get tainted by a lot of the unjust things that have happened here over the years.

The whole situation is complicated, I'll agree. We have a very bizarre economy.

Rick Jones said...

Thanks, Jeff. Yes, it is a bizarre situation.

Reading through this again, I have a question for LH. Say we took those people from Nepal and paid them $3.55/hour, plus the usual benefits. That would take them from $8/month to around $600/month. Would we really be doing them a disservice at that wage?

bigsoxfan said...

"a power plant that doesn't allow two people to make toast simultaneously" That is some awesome prose. I was on a ship with a similar plant years ago and when I run into the chief of that ship one day, he is going to laugh his ass off. I'll be sure to credit you though. Sorry I don't address the body of your post, but I'm feeling a little Ambrose Bennetish. Your last few posts have been a great deal more informative than the papers, however.

lil_hammerhead said...

Blog looks alot better now without the brown background. That was difficult to read.

lil_hammerhead said...

We'd be doing all individuals working in america a diservice.

Kilili said...

Is anyone interested in joining in to watch OPA's job study presentation?

It is factual and interesting and there is really no real reason why we have college graduates without jobs.

The information came from Labor's database and the project included local businesses and the government. OPA is just the facilitator.

Write me at: if you are interested.

Rick Jones said...

LH - How do you figure? Pay rates vary widely from state to state and city to city, depending on cost of living primarily. Why should it be so different here?

No doubt that many workers have been taken advantage of here, and will continue to be in the future. But that doesn't change the fact that the high cost of doing business here demands a lower labor cost, at least on the smaller business level.

I won't speak for the garment factories, those guys seem to have made gobs of money.

Jeff said...

One thing about this RJ: "I still say those people righteously fighting for a living wage are those who don't have to concern themselves with paying it."

The opposite is also true. The people most responsible for fighting against our obscene minimum wage, including Abramoff rigging that whole game, were the people who had to pay it, the chamber, the garment factories via the government they own.

lil_hammerhead said...

Pay rates vary, but there is no place in the US that pays $3.00+ for minimum wage. Let's take construction for example, let's narrow that down to masonry work. A mason in guam starts around $15.00 per hour, some PDN ads advertise masons upwards of $19.00 per hour. The reason these wages are as high as they are is because they don't have unlimited access to a body of masons willing to do that particular job. Therefore, the rates stay competitively high (and fair). Here in the CNMI we've had that unlimited access to cheap labor, therefore there's been no need to pay reasonable and fair hourly rates for that kind of work. Because of these unreasonably low wages, our own people don't take those kind of jobs. I can tell you that if I graduated high school and was able to work as a mason for even $10.00 per hour, I would have considered becoming a mason.

This same reasoning applies to many areas of employment in the CNMI, from accountants, to store managers, to newspaper reporters. The cheap alien labor keeps salaries unreasonably low. It doesn't matter how much better that alien is doing in comparison to the life he or she left.. that is not what we should be basing our wages on. Undoubtedly they're doing better.. they're making next to nothing back home. Doesn't make it right and it isn't good for the regular resident worker at all.

Rick Jones said...

No question about it Jeff, and I certainly don't endorse any of that underhanded crap.