Editorials 2019-January-18

Good luck with that

THE federal ban on cockfights will soon join the list of similarly well-intentioned laws in the CNMI that are largely ignored — like the measures against littering, illegal drugs, illegal taxis, etc.

Who, in any case, will enforce the cockfight ban here? How? Meanwhile, even as proponents of the ban are congratulating themselves, cockfights will continue to be held here and on Guam.

In the states, it is illegal to sell single cigarettes, but as a 2014 study noted, “it may be occurring more frequently with the recent increase in taxes on cigarettes.” President Trump is considered an “immigration hard-liner,” but so far, his administration hasn’t deterred Central Americans from joining migrant caravans that are headed to the U.S. border.  In Sept. 2018, moreover, The Hill reported that a research study published in a scientific journal estimated that there were 22.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Most previous estimates place the undocumented population at around 11 million people.

We are not saying that everyone should break the law. No. But lawmakers should stop passing laws that are not or cannot be enforced. Instead, they should find better ways to address the “problems” they want to “solve.”

Not fair

CONSIDERING their responsibilities and what many of their constituents expect and demand from them, CNMI legislators should be — with the exception of the municipal council and  Board of Education members — the Commonwealth’s most underpaid elected officials.

After passing laws that provided bonuses to retirees and raised the salaries of many government employees and other elected officials, CNMI legislators will receive less pay starting this year.

True, the previous legislative leaders should be blamed for this current state of affairs. They proposed a politically tone-deaf 80 percent pay hike for themselves, provoking a public outcry and a successful judicial challenge.

But surely, the lawmakers of a government with a projected revenue of over $250 million should get a pay increase even if it’s not a lot. Or, at the very least, they should continue getting their previous salary rate.

But for many of us, the “ideal” elected official is someone who is not paid much, if at all, while being generous to everyone else, especially his constituents.  Moreover, he or she should be on call 24/7, and must provide assistance that usually involves spending his or her money. Otherwise, they’re “greedy.”

Ruth’s right

ONE of the highlights of the recent inauguration activities was the presence of officials from Guam and the rest of Micronesia. It was a nice show of solidarity and support from fellow islanders.

Even in this age of high-tech telecommunication systems, there is no substitute for personal interaction among officials of governments that have so much to share and learn from each other.

As good-government advocate Ruth Tighe pointed out in an op-ed we published 35 years ago, “All travel is not bad. All travel is not a waste. Just like with everything else, condemning all of anything because one, or two, may be bad, or ill-advised, is not very intelligent.”