Finger Pointing Won’t Solve The Marianas’ Problems
By Anthony Pellegrino
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 30, 2012) – Now that the sky is falling down on our heads, let's point our finger at the ones who caused all this misery. After all, someone else caused it, not us. We have been innocent bystanders. They should have known better. Didn't we elect them to do our thinking and hold our hands while we blissfully looked the other way? Why, who else caused all these problems that have sunk us into a state of mental and economic depression? Of course, the legislators and the administration are the causes of all these problems. Let's point out finger at them for all our misery.
The reason the pension fund is now in bankruptcy is because the government didn't pay into it all the money it deducted from our salaries. Forget the fact that this has been going on for many years and done by several governors. Forget the fact that the legislators knew of this and never said a word or did anything to correct it. Forget the fact that all of us knew this also and never said a word to stop it. Now that the sky has fallen down, we are screaming angrily. I feel so sad for so many innocent people that are being hurt. What future will they have for supporting themselves? Let's point our finger at the legislators and the administration.
The Commonwealth Health Center is now in a state of emergency because it is so far into debt and is unable to collect its bills on time to meet its basic expenses. Why are we screaming only now? Forget the fact that doctors when they resigned and others have been saying this from years back. Forget the fact that the problem started many years ago. Forget the fact that we also knew of its problems and said nothing. Now that the sky has fallen down, we are screaming angrily. What will we do for medical treatment now that we are in such dire straits? Didn't we know these problems would arise when we spent so much money to build the hospital? Have we forgotten the tremendous cost overrun problem we faced while building it? Let's point our finger at the legislators and the administration.
The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is forcing more businesses to go out of business than any other factor. The utility rates in our homes are escalating almost monthly to the point that many of us have resorted to barely turning on the lights in our houses. The Public School System has restricted the number of hours for air-conditioning and still cannot meet its bill. Forget that we have wrestled with this problem for over 25 years. Forget that several years ago we spent a huge sum of money to rent generators with the plan to replace or repair the existing ones and never did. Forget that we have played around with privatizing it with foolish offers to potential investors enough to scare them away. Forget that for years we have mouthed about seeking alternative energy sources, to no avail. Let's point our finger at the legislators and the administration.
Before I continue, I have a favor to ask. Please stand in front of a mirror and reread the previous paragraphs while looking at the reflection in the mirror. Of course, the reflection is us. Can we honestly say that we didn't see or understand all of these problems before they became so horrendous?
Ladies and gentlemen, don't most of the illnesses we suffer start from a small pain or incident? For example, if the doctor says we have cancer, will we just ignore it? Or what if we contract diabetes what will happen should we neglect it? Of course, they become huge and can even cause death.
Now to my point: Where were we when these problems that we are faced with started? Can we truthfully say we didn't know about them? Didn't we understand that they would go out of control someday? What action or concern did we express? Didn't various individuals express serious concerns? Why didn't we listen and try to do something about them when they were still small? Remember, we are looking at ourselves in the mirror while we are discussing this.
Daily we are becoming more and more frantic. Many of our fellow citizens have already departed and others are planning to shortly. So what should we do? Do we keep our heads buried in the sand? Let's point our finger at the legislators and the administration, right?
Keep looking at the reflection in the mirror. Honestly speaking, we are also to blame as well. We remained silent when we saw or heard of the problems. Did we figure that someone else would correct them? Do we still want to blame the legislators and the administration? I learned a long time ago that when I point my finger at someone in blame, three fingers point back at me!
But it is not too late to reverse the trend. We need a plan. I am going to be blunt and hopefully some of us will listen and jump on board. The first plan is to improve our tourist market. All of us must understand that tourists are our guests because we invite them and also need them to boost our economy. But how many of us are interested in tourism as a business? Or do we just ignore it and expect MVA to do the entire job?
People, we must reach out our hands to our guests and show them that they are welcome. Notice the rash of crime against them at our scenic spots. Are we demanding that this be stopped with whatever it takes? How supportive of the victims are we? There is so much more we can do. Remember, each happy tourist is a walking advertisement when he returns home. I have learned that in selling a product or a service, the customer always buys me first and what I have to offer second. If he doesn't like me or connect with me, he will not buy regardless of the price or service. This is called sales and marketing. Unfortunately I feel we aren't doing such a good job. Tourism is us, not just MVA.
There is another gigantic industry waiting for us. It is agriculture and I will discuss it again in my next article. Meanwhile keep smiling. Remember if you cry, you cry alone. But if you smile we all smile with you. I know it is difficult to smile at times. But what else should we do? So smile whether you feel it or not! Have a great week.
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