Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Playing with Other People's Livelihoods

Rampant systemic corruption is the number one reason the Northern Mariana Island's economy has been in a downturn since 1997. The other excuses, the Asian economic crisis in 1997, the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, SARS in 2003, JAL pulling out in 2005, and President Bush's economic policies for the last decade, are just that, excuses.

Things will not get better in the islands until the corruption ends. Is it really worth going through the list of the most egregious examples? No. Read Saipan's newspapers on any given day and there is bound to be a story about government corruption.

Today's story of corruption has the Speaker of the House suggesting that constituents of lawmakers not aligned with the Speaker be fired from their government jobs. However horrible it is to retaliate against a government worker for not supporting you in an election, retaliating against a government worker to force the will of another politician raises things to a new level of douchebaggery. Imagine what would happen if Nancy Pelosi threatened to close down government offices in states with Republican senators. What investor in their right mind would spend a single penny in a place like that?

The fact that many of the government employees on Tinian and Rota are useless unqualified cronies is besides the point. People's jobs and livelihoods should not depend on the whims of one person. Those workers have families, debt, and responsibilities. They should not be used as pawns by the people elected to represent them.

Casinos are not a magic bullet for killing the Northern Mariana Islands' recession. The answer to improving the economy lies in creating a government and rule of law that is uniformly enforced, not dependent on family relations and political alliances. Even if Froilan gets this casino, who is to say that he won't change his mind and turn on the casino investors the way he has turned on the people of Tinian and Rota. Would you trust millions of dollars to one man's mood swings?

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