HERE’S a “radical” suggestion to those who want to teach the youth how government works. Let’s tell them all about the many pieces of well-intentioned legislation that have failed to achieve their lofty goals, including those whose results were the opposite of the proponents’ intent.
Let’s cite the major campaign promises in every election year and point out that they are basically one and the same: more of the good things, less of the bad. Let’s also mention the complaints against elected officials through the years, and compare them to today’s “concerns.”
Let’s tell them what an English philosopher, Herbert Spencer, wrote in 1853 (167 years ago) about his great nation’s (then and now) much admired system of government: “Take up a daily paper and you will probably find [an article or editorial] exposing the corruption, negligence, or mismanagement of some [government] department. Cast your eye down the next column, and it is not unlikely that you will read proposals for an extension of [government] supervision…. While every day chronicles a failure, there every day reappears the belief that it needs but an Act of [Legislature] and a staff of officers to effect any end desired. Nowhere is the perennial faith of mankind better seen. Ever since society existed Disappointment has been preaching, ‘Put not your trust in legislation’; and yet the trust in legislation seems scarcely diminished.”
MOST of us, now and then, believe that government, with all its resources backed by coercive force, ought to “solve” problems…including those created by government itself. The CNMI Department of Commerce, for example, says it wants to do a better job in implementing the government rules imposed on businesses. Its solution? A reduction of red tape? A repeal of redundant and/or unneeded rules? Of course not. The department’s solution is to force businesses to pay more — even if the Commonwealth is facing its worst economic crisis in its 42-year history.
For their part, some lawmakers are worried about Marpi; they want it “protected.” Their solution? Review existing statutes to find out how they can be implemented better? Identify the agencies responsible for protecting the islands’ environment? Don’t be ridiculous. The concerned lawmakers introduced a bill to (wait for it) create another layer of government and impose yet another government fee. Incidentally, several years ago, lawmakers increased the hotel occupancy tax to provide more funding for MVA, specifically for tourism promotion. Yet today MVA is almost or practically broke.
What (else) could possibly go wrong?
VOTERS, as usual, elected or re-elected legislative candidates who are all for education and healthcare and the environment and infrastructure and local culture and retirees and the children and the youth and the manamko’ and so on, and so forth.
So how will the Legislature fund all the goodies (and more) that voters expect and demand from their government? Did any of the re-elected lawmakers or lawmakers-elect offer something that is actually different from the apple-pie-and-motherhood pledges of the other candidates in previous election years?
Once again, there are talks about “assisting small businesses.” But how often did you hear about elected officials and/or candidates for office meeting with CDA and SBA, among other local and federal agencies, to learn about existing programs for small businesses? What about consulting owners and managers of already existing small and other businesses on island — that is, people who actually have business know-how?
It is the Legislature, by the way, that, not too long ago, passed a measure to give its members a pay-hike, and the result was that lawmakers had to take a pay cut.
And so now, apparently, they will “address” business and economic issues.
God help us all.