Friday, October 01, 2010

Government Shutdown Stories

I hope that the newspapers and the bloggers and the writers take notes of all the things that are going on in Saipan this week. The conversations that are taking place over coffee and the decisions on how to weather the storm are going to be historically important one day soon. This weekend marks the date that the whole deck of cards imploded.

The guys who were elected into office last November are dealing with issues that are more complex, more difficult to deal with than they are capable of handling. Between the 29 legislators, the four mayors, and the governor, I'm not sure if there are a dozen college degrees. I know there is not a single lawyer; and I'm pretty sure not one of them has an advanced degree. Most of them have worked for the government their entire lives and have no real world experience. It is no wonder things are the way they are.

It is amazing to me that no one saw this coming. Like Zaldy Dandan points out in Friday's editorial, tens of thousands of private sector employees have lost their jobs over the last few years and nobody in positions of power batted an eyelash.

The next disaster is when the NMI Retirement Fund goes bankrupt. Sure, there are some people who have earned their retirement, but most of the retirees I know retired in their late thirties and early forties. You can't expect a paycheck for doing nothing for the rest of your life. Things that seem too good to be true often aren't true. It is only a matter of time before that ponzi scheme collapses, too.

If you are a retiree, I'd start planning now. Get the training that you'll need when you have to go back to work in a few years. Or get back to work so that the transition won't be as difficult when the retirement money dries up.

But in the meantime, I hope someone writes down what is going on this week. The Marianas Variety did their job and found that several lawmakers were celebrating Stanley Torres' birthday down in Garapan just hours before the government shutdown (but it's really a government slowdown).
fitial discoSOME elected leaders, including lawmakers, partied on Thursday night, hours before the CNMI government shutdown that was a result of the Legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2011.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial was among those who joined the birthday celebration of Rep. Stanley T. Torres, Ind.-Saipan, at Godfather’s Bar in Garapan.

“As of 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, Governor Fitial and Representative Torres were at Godfather's. Stanley was dancing on the dance floor and the governor was in a corner booth, surrounded by friends and laughing,” a resident told this reporter.

“What a slap in the face to their constituents — they are partying in public as the clock ticks toward a government shutdown that is 100 percent attributable to their professional failures,” the resident added.
I hope the stories next week describe how people are coping and what they are going to do. Is this going to lead people to leave island? Is someone going to move out of government service and start a business? Things like that would be interesting to know.

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