Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Casting the lure, MV 19

There were a lot of things I thought quirky about the anti-federalization rally held over the weekend. The tone at first was typical of Greg Cruz, which was to make little practical sense and imbue the message with a dash of racism against contract workers. "The peaceful rally will follow the political activism of the CNMI's nonresident guest worker population clamoring for federalization to secure improved immigration status, " Cruz's first description noted. When more respectable people took part in the rally, the tone became nicer with this statement being issued: “we do not oppose any national group from seeking U.S. citizenship." Sure you don't. The one thing accomplished by the thousands of dollars in lobbyist fees recently spent by the broke government was the killing of the provision to upgrade the immigration status of long time guest workers.

First, how absurd is it in an age of global warming and a war based on fossil fuels, which are now up around $4.00 per gallon, to have a car rally. What kind of message does that send? It's also counterproductive in that it discourages those people without cars. It would be so much physically healthier and democratic to have people out walking while holding placards and actually saying what they want to say without being filtered through Cruz. The car rally idea might have been hatched to make the event look larger than it really was. The Tribune had the number at 150. The Variety quoted Cruz as saying the number was in the thousands. Several bloggers disputed Cruz’s numbers and were justifiably critical of the Variety going with Cruz's number in its headline rather than giving its own on-scene estimate. Blogger Tamara Hunter said, "I counted exactly 105 cars coming out of fishing basin, plus three police escorts," while fellow blogger Glen Doutrich counted 65 cars.

Regardless of how many participated, other than being against federalization, the message morphed each day. The improved immigration status some people dreaded is out of the bill, but organizers handed out this misleading statement: "We oppose the manner in which the federal government seeks to grant permanent residency and citizenship to aliens/foreign nationals working in the CNMI using out of the ordinary established immigration procedures and channels at the expense of the people of the CNMI by compromising the provisions of self-government found in the Covenant.” Since that immigration provision is out of the bill, what exactly is the point of saying that other than to lure people who don't follow the news closely enough to know it's out of the bill? Who exactly rallies against improved status for their fellow man anyway? The new approach was self government and a fake no representation argument.

Leading up to the rally, there was also this misleading statement from Cruz: "This event is an opportunity for all of our residents to join together against Federalization without representation." Like the phony improved status lure, the no representation lure is another distortion. This bill actually provides representation, and the new representative job pays around $160,000. There will be a mob scene of waving/sign holding politicos clamoring for that position. If representation matters, a logical person should support the federalization bill. This was another method to lure in those who don't follow the news closely.

Finally there is the whole anti-federalization idea that has been ingrained for years. People trumpet the doomsday scenario about how it will lead to the destruction of our economy. Our economy is already destroyed, and the continued total lack of a viable private sector paying living wages won't help revamp it. As long as the local government is allowed to bloat the labor supply, wages will still be stuck at the meager amounts they have been for years.

I spent a weekend in Guam a few months ago, and there were countless times I heard "Hey, Mr. Turbitt." It was ex-students who were now living and working in Guam where they are paid better wages. These young people voted with their feet by leaving the CNMI. More will continue to do so until we have a private sector that will pay them. The local government has failed at that miserably. I doubt federalization can make the situation worse. Don’t be lured in with only half the story.


saipan attorney said...

Another outstanding column, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Great, well-written article today, Jeff!! Thanks for letting the truth ring forth!!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a distortion to call a non-voting delegate "representation," when he won't even take office until after the bill passes, and couldn't vote on it anyway?

Jeff said...

The point is the issue is being addressed and is about to be implemented. The delegate can vote in committee as well, which has a lot of value. No longer will the CNMI the only one without it. They'll have the same deal as Guam, American Samoa, etc. Washington D.C. doesn't have a voting delegate, which is far greater travesty than the CNMI. Puerto Rico doesn't have one with almost 4,000,000 people. We have what, 20,000 citizens and 40,000 guest workers.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the situation in DC is a travesty. It is a travesty for the people of any place subject to federal laws not to have full voting representation in the House, the Senate, and for the Presidency.

bigsoxfan said...

Personally, I wouldn't want a resident or worker in the district of columbia be allowed to vote for dog catcher outside of their local district. unfortunately, that definition would include the members of the congress. Biba Tina

SteeleOnSaipan said...

I heard Angelo V. on Harry's show today stating that "non-indigenous" fishermen (I'm not as politically correct as he, I'll say Chinese) have been seen bringing captured eagle rays into the marina onboard their boats. I've heard this too but only of late.

Just this past Tuesday, a man of similar origin tried to pass off to me a forged ownership document for a vehicle in trade. When I told him that I needed ID w/ a signature, he cried "trust me, I no lie!" Turns out it was his signature but not his car or name on the ownership.

Our recycling industry, which should be a heavily regulated industry, is out of control with rampant shipping of stolen wiring and artifacts, while by sunset, prostitutes are accosting tourists at the cross-walk between the DFS Galleria and Hafa Adai Shopping Center.

Does anybody else feel that the island is being overrun by non-U.S. citizens who have little regard for the law or environment? What are they possibly contributing to the good of our islands? The tax base is certainly not benefiting, business isn't conducted that way where these persons come from. So who is benefiting? Ask the longtime legislators of these islands.

What if hundreds or even thousands, of these persons have been here five years already? Should they enjoy a blanket upgrade in U.S. immigration status as well? Of course not.

I would love to see my longtime employees and friends who aren't U.S. citizens get improved status but not at the expense of allowing a thousand or more thugs and frauds to do the same. There must be another way, federally administered of course, of working that. If the task was left to some CNMI legislators, everyone with the right pimp would get a waiver.

Jeff said...

I'm actually to the Right on immigration. One of the few issues I am. I would move everyone out who isn't here legally, or are engaged in the myriad fake business visas out, which are running rampant. I would do the same in the states. I jumped through enough hoops and spent enough money to get my wife a legit green card, so I don't like people just making the border dash.

I continue to have an influx of Korean students with zero English skills, and PSS still doesn't have an ESL class setup that they desperately need for the usual money reasons.

I would like to see the people who are here legally treated fairly and paid appropriately. I also don't think it would be a bad thing for our overtaxed infrastructure for a population reduction, not to mention that the labor supply is still bloated and that isn't good for the legal workers.

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

I believe I said "foreign born fishermen."