SAIPAN lawmakers, please repeal S.L.L. 22-6. The e-gaming operators say they are willing to compromise “to find…a fair reasonable local tax.” Please meet with them and their employees.

For sure, you do not want local residents to lose their jobs in this economy, amid a still raging global pandemic. And you do not want to lose the revenue provided by these legitimate businesses. After all,  you said you ran for office to make things better for the people you promised to serve. You said you “support” local workers and their families. You said you “feel” their pain.

Here then is an opportunity to back up your words with action.

As we’ve said before, if you don’t know how to improve the islands’ current situation, then at least don’t make it worse. Never mind your egos. Many of you claim to be “selfless servants of the people” anyway. And the “people” certainly include those harmed by mindless legislation.

You know you were wrong not to hold public hearings before passing a bill that would double fees on struggling businesses.

You know you were wrong not to get  the correct data and figures.

And you know you were wrong  not to know what you were doing. You did not pass a “revenue-raising” bill. Instead, you approved  a measure that will shut down businesses and put people (in the private sector) out of work. You OK’d a law that will result in less revenue — and more people dependent on government dole-outs.

Happily, you can still undo your latest (truly boneheaded) mistake. You can still redeem yourselves.

Saipan lawmakers, please take responsibility for your action — and show some compassion to the people who will lose their jobs because you failed to do yours.


Wanted: More economically literate public officials

 SEVERAL years ago, the president of (what polite society calls) a developing country read a news story about a new company that had just opened for business. The president, who had a degree in economics, called the business owner and asked her how the government could help her expand and hire more workers. The business owner mentioned the taxes she had to pay, and told the president that significantly reducing the rates would allow her to provide more job opportunities to people who needed them. I’ll make it happen, said the economically literate (but unfortunately term-limited) president, and he did.

Sadly, however, it seems that many other politicians, including and especially the “well-meaning and intelligent,”  are not familiar with certain (market-based) economic truths. Regarding taxes, as Kevin  D. Williamson once noted, most of them cling to a belief “based on a deathless myth: that taxes are actually paid in economic terms by those upon whom they legally fall.” We have to impose higher taxes on  greedy/heartless/selfish business owners so they’ll pay more! And when they pay more we can spend more on programs and services that benefit our virtuous/suffering/ordinary citizens!

“The obviousness of this nonsense,” Williamson said, “is clear enough if you put the proposition into plain English: ‘Don’t you worry, now, we’re not going to raise taxes on you, Bubba — we’re just going to raise taxes on your employer, your customers, your vendors and business partners, the people who make and sell the things you buy and use, your bank, your Internet provider, the companies that build houses and commercial buildings, your landlord, gasoline distributors, all the companies your retirement account is invested in — oh, you won’t be affected at all!’ ”

Or, in the immortal words of a Saipan lawmaker explaining why they “unanimously” passed a measure that doubled the fees paid by already struggling businesses: “It was never the intent of this august body to displace employees.”

And you can take that to the bank, soon-to-be-unemployed employees.

Oh wait. You can’t.


Zaldy Dandan is the recipient of the Best Editorial Writer Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the CNMI Humanities Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. His three books are available on

comments powered by Disqus