Marianas Variety

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    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-10:55:16A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Editorials 2019-October-18

Cashing in

WHENEVER someone says that the government should deliver or provide something that “benefits the public,” there is usually no mention of a funding source — or even how the government can afford it.

To paraphrase Albert Jay Nock, many of us assume that when we suffer any ill-fortune, or feel some strong appetite, we can obtain everything, without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk, merely by touching a button that says “government” and setting the mighty machine in motion.

In short, government as ATM. Now we all know that ATMs can only function when they are stocked with money. But when it comes to government, we usually assume it always has the money that we need, and if it’s not there then someone “took it.” (This is basically what the recent brouhaha over the government’s austerity measures was all about.)

That the government’s financial condition is determined by the state of the economy is also seldom mentioned. If you listen to the discussions on Capital Hill you would think that the government’s financial crisis is a bookkeeping problem — and not because the tourism-based economy has slowed down even as government obligations have increased.

And what do you think happens when every voting group out there demands their piece of the revenue pie in an era of shrinking revenue pie? Do we really think that they think they are making unreasonable demands? Come to think of it, what government agency and/or personnel consider themselves “nonessential”?

No one is publicly saying that the government should stop funding this or that agency/program/service. And there has never been a legislative majority who will vote against spending measures that pay for just about every item that can benefit voters.

Again, listen to the “raging debates” on the Hill. They’re never about reducing government spending, but almost always about perpetuating or increasing it. And who’s paying besides the designated piñata, Imperial Pacific?

Ah yes. The sound of crickets chirping.

What the NMI needs

THROUGH the Youth Congress and other government-sponsored youth summits, the islands’ young citizens learn how their government — everyone’s ATM — works. Perhaps it’s time to also teach them how to ensure that there’s always money in the ATM.

They should be, first of all, educated on the government’s finances and revenue sources; how a market economy works; and why and how the CNMI’s economy is linked to other economies around the world. There should be more youth programs on entrepreneurship. The youth must be aware of the challenges faced by businesses big and small, and how the government can create a more business-friendly CNMI so that the government can collect more revenue and pay for its ever growing list of obligations.

Let’s face it. Like many other territories and countries, the CNMI doesn’t need more politicians; it needs more businesspersons, economists, inventors, doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, trades and other skilled workers.

And we need more people who, to quote economist Donald Boudreaux, “recognize that government office doesn’t infuse those who hold it with superhuman knowledge.”