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Editorials | The consent of the governed

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A land that’s free, a land so fair

IF given a choice, most, if not almost all of us, would prefer to live in a nation where the world’s most lethal armed forces have to consult with the public before they can conduct training and other military activities. 

Forty-five years ago, the people of the NMI were given that choice, and they chose well. Then and now, they are grateful to their nation that, generally, and as a rule, treats its citizens equally even if they reside in faraway islands. Like many other Americans, they are aware that the U.S. is far from perfect, but they also know that it continues to move ever closer to its ideals, foremost of which is the once outrageous notion that all men (and women) are created equal — that they, moreover, “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

As many of us ought to know, the U.S. allows, if not expects, its citizens to have minds of their own; to speak out; to express their concerns; and to say “no” even, and especially, to their government and its instrumentalities.

The NMI voluntarily joined the U.S. so the local people can exercise the hard-won rights of their fellow U.S. citizens in the states. The local people’s loyalty to their nation and its armed forces is beyond doubt. They clearly appreciate America’s national security concerns involving the Marianas and the rest of Micronesian region. This and related issues were discussed and debated prior to the start of the Covenant negotiations in Dec. 1972; throughout the ensuing 26-month negotiations; and right up to the plebiscite campaign in the NMI, and the lobbying efforts in the U.S. Congress. In Washington, D.C. Tinian’s Joe Cruz would sing “God Bless America,” a U.S. official recalled, “and your tears came out.”

As for the military’s current training/buildup proposals and plans — surely they are not set in stone. (In the early 1970s, for example, the military said it would build a base on Tinian.) Which is why the military has been soliciting comments and meeting with the islands’ leaders and community members. And this is also why some of the U.S. citizens of these islands are availing themselves of their great nation’s democratic processes to ensure that their military will not conduct activities that could destroy their home islands.

The NMI is not foreign land. These islands are not conquered territory. They are U.S. islands. And their U.S. citizens will act like other patriotic U.S. citizens would if they believe that the viability of their community and quality of life is at stake.

Good luck with that

AMONG the “remedies” touted by some of this year’s candidates for office is “government fiscal discipline.”  That is like saying “hygienic pig sty.” Government primarily exists to take other people’s money and overspend it on voters. In the NMI’s case, and since the good ol’ TT days, government is expected to offer jobs (with annual pay raises), education, healthcare (including and especially medical referrals), disaster and other forms of assistance. Government approves loan applications that no self-respecting (and reputable) bank would. It provides heavily subsidized utility services. Government is Santa Claus and every day is Christmas. Indeed, the main reason why some (or many) people are unhappy nowadays is not because their government is overspending, but because it is no longer overspending enough.

In any case, if any candidate for office truly believe that government should “live within its means,” then please tell us what government expenditures you intend to cut and by how much. Put your money, as they say, where your mouth is.

 

 

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