I agree with you Jane regarding the romantisizing of our recent past. I left this island nearly 20 years ago and just recently returned.
I don't even see anything close to the Great Wall or the Pyramids (other than the empty GIG that was once a thriving disco that rivaled anything in the region). The La Fiesta was not dependent on cheap labor and has been empty for years while we had access to cheap labor.
What I did see upon returning has been eye opening and far from anything I would revel in and consider great development and a prosperous economy. I found destroyed reefs and barren lagoons (in comparison to 20+ years ago). I found empty shells of 30 plus garment warehouses. I found empty strip malls. I discovered that around 70% of those I grew up with and went to school out here with no longer live here. They have families elsewhere. I saw that nearly 90% of the waitstaff, front desk clerks, bartenders,etc were guest workers (I was a waiter 25 years ago and my pals were front desk and housekeeping). I noticed that all the Mom and Pop stores that had once been owned by me and my friends Moms and Pops were now owned by foreign investors. Diego's Mart, Pop's Store, Morgans Mini Mart, Carmen Safeway, Tenda Store, Aldan's Gas Station, Farmers Market, etc. Same with the bars and restaurants like Ship Ashore, House of Chang, Chamorro Village, Town & Country, Chamorro House, etc are all replaced with foreign owned businesses. I noticed the streets that used to be filled with Japanese Tourist were now empty. The golf courses designed 20 years ago by Jack Nicolas were now unkempt. The hotels that used to average 90% occupancy now ran at around 50%. The Jets that used to fly between here and Guam are now prop plans. Direct flights to Japan that used to fly in and out 3 times a day down to 2 twice a week.
Where is our great wall? We had none. 30 years ago we could have built something great.
We had geographic edge with Japan only 2 hours away. We had great resorts and golf courses that were maintained and rivaled those in other areas of the pacific. We had relationships with agents and airlines that secured set routes and put us int he position to be the HUB for the Pacific region. We had locally run businesses and local workers at all levels that kept the money in our economy and didn't funnel it all out. We had a solid foundation birthed of the Covenant to maintain all of this and grow to be prosperous.
We got greedy and we got led by some terribly short sighted leaders.
Our downfall is not to blamed on federalization of immigration. It is blamed on our own doing. We embraced garment. We spent millions on lobbyist. We exploited foreign labor and used guest workers to replace local labor rather than filling gaps and instead replaced our local workforce. We pulled in foreign businesses at the expense of local entrepreneurship. We doled out public land to foreign investors instead of catering to local investors. Our leaders did this because they could negotiate kickbacks and become middlemen in the schemes. Do land swaps and make millions overnight.
3 days ago the federal government took control of immigration in the CNMI; 27 years ago we destroyed this economy.
December 1, 2009 2:11 PM
I like this comment, not because it starts out by agreeing with me, but because of the specifics. It makes me sad, though, to contemplate the lost opportunities. Still hoping that--yes, we can--make it right.