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    Friday, August 17, 2018-6:56:23A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Variations: If I were a candidate for office

DEAR voters. First of all I must constantly remind myself that you are distinct individuals, and  not a group of people who all think and act the same, and who have the same opinions, aspirations and needs.

I cannot assume that I know better than you do about what you want. But I think I’ve a pretty good idea about the things that many of us can agree about.

One of them is that CNMI retirees must receive the pension promised to them by their government. (If you don’t agree, then I’m not your man, and you can skip reading the rest.)

Fulfilling the CNMI government’s obligations to its retirees is not a pie-in-the-sky statement. It is happening now that the economy has improved. Hence, the utmost importance of protecting the economy from well-intentioned but clearly proven lunacies such as depriving the NMI of the workforce it needs, and making the commonwealth an even more expensive place for businesses big or small. And no. The economy is not a build-it-yourself kit. Rather, it is “the sum total of all commercial, financial, and productive activities” and human transactions here and abroad. Its complexity is staggering. In the name of compassion, many intelligent people were foolish enough to believe they could centrally control it — or build a “better” one from scratch. The result then and now is always the same: immense human suffering.

I will not experiment with people’s lives in pursuit of grand and noble designs. I will not support proposals I know will harm people for the sake of “the good of everyone in the long-term.”

Remember: the local economic downturn began in 1998. In the succeeding years, your government did everything it could possibly do to improve the economy. But the economy came back to life only recently because of the significant growth in a new tourism market, China, and the entry of a Saipan casino investor. You may not like more tourists and investors, especially from China, and most especially if they involve casino gaming. But I would be lying to you if I said that, without them, the CNMI government could continue to pay for what it can pay for now which includes land compensation and court judgments.

I think many of you believe that the public health system, medical referrals, scholarships, PSS, NMC, the trade school and CUC are crucial for our quality of life and our children’s future. I agree. Those agencies, entities and programs must, as much as possible, receive adequate funding and support.

But again that, in turn, depends on the state of the economy.

I’m also quite sure that many of us are for balanced development, protecting the environment, creating more business and work opportunities for locals and other U.S. citizens. But these do not necessarily mean destroying the economy we already have. They only require that we enforce the laws that are already in the statute books.

That’s another promise I can make to you. I will not introduce a bill unless there is a real and immediate need for it. I prefer to find out what the existing laws are that are not being enforced, and why. I also promise to actually read and review the single most important piece of legislation there is — the annual government budget bill.

But I must tell you now that I can’t do anything by myself on Capital Hill. I have to work with other lawmakers and the executive branch, including, sometimes, U.S. officials, while complying with all applicable CNMI and federal laws.

So basically the most that I can promise you is that I will probably talk a lot on your behalf as your representative. But again, I have my own views about many issues that may or may not reflect yours. I know you’re busy and have so many other things to do in your home, school or place of work. So I will consider it part of my duty to you to learn more about the issues by studying them and consulting the experts.

I promise to do no harm, but I cannot promise “change.” Change of faces is always possible, but tell me this: do you believe that electing the incumbents or those who want to replace them will change your expectations and/or needs? Will you, as a retiree, change your mind about getting your pension? Will it change the minds of government employees who want job security and a pay-hike now and then? Will it change our minds about scholarships, homesteads, medical referrals, public health, public safety, public education, utilities, paved roads, improved infrastructure, etc., etc.?

So no. I cannot promise “real change” because that means “changing” your views about these and many other things. But as a very wise man once said, “Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.”

I’m sorry if I did not sound like Santa Claus. By now, I’m sure you and I know he doesn’t exist.

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