Friday, August 31, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, August 28th.

Cherokee pachyderms
Elephant Story

A story I saw on the internet recently drives home the moral that we need to be sure of our facts before making big commitments. I have paraphrased it below since we have some important decisions coming up:

An American traveling in Africa came across a young bull elephant limping and standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so the hiker approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, he worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. The hiker stood frozen, thinking he might be being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. He never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, the fellow was walking through the San Diego Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where he and his son were standing. The large bull elephant stared at him, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter 20 years earlier, he couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. He summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man’s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly. Probably wasn't the same elephant.
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Power Alternatives
Several attempts have been made over the years to privatize CUC in order to find ways to make it operate more efficiently and remove the burden of operation from the local government. While privatization is one possible solution it has a drawback when applied to a monopoly like a utility company. A private sector company needs to make a profit so its shareholders will continue to hold on to their investment. This means that in addition to actually paying for the cost to produce the power, maintain the equipment and allow for depreciating life of the delivery and generation systems, the additional cost of paying or repaying the investors and making them a profit has to be paid as part of the power rates as well.

There are at least a couple of alternatives that might work to increase effectiveness, reduce government burdens and liability and still hold power rates down.

One alternative would be for the local citizens, companies and other actual users of electric power and water to own the company that produces these utilities. A company could be formed with all the stock held by those in the community who wish to invest in the power system. Or stock could be distributed in proportion to the individual or corporate usage and a premium over cost paid in by all users paid into a trust account for maintenance and new equipment. Or bonds could be floated, as utilities often do, to come up with the large sums needed to build new power plants and other infrastructure with repayment guaranteed by the utilities incoming monthly fees so little or none comes out of the owners’ pockets. Another alternative would be a power co-op. A cooperative is formed and overseen by a board of directors who hire a manager responsible for actual operations. Co-op members are the utility users.

Corporate or Co-op bylaws could decree that all profits be reassigned to electric rate and water rate reductions. So the people who own the power and water companies are the same people who use the power and water. In any of the above cases, one of the keys would be to hire or train a few experienced professional key management personnel responsible for overall operations. Local jobs at CUC could be kept and employees retained and some retrained as necessary. The employees, who are also power users, would also be part owners of the company, motivating them to work all the more efficiently. Users of the power are also part owners so it is not likely they would pilfer from themselves or let others do so.

If none of these suggestions work there is always the spinning hamster cage electric generation system I outlined in a previous column. We could run that one on chicken feed.
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Babies and puppies
A letter writer, and friend of mine, has noted that Our Colonial Masters have someone over in their PR department throwing us a bone every once in a while to try and make us forget they are poised to destroy our economy and lifestyle. This time they have donated some free vaccine to our Jr. High and High Schools to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (VD) in teen and pre teenage girls. Maybe if the same amount of money were spent to educate these children about the disease perils of sexual promiscuity a better result might be obtained. An equivalent amount spent on prophylactics would produce a pile about the size of the Puerto Rico dump but I’m not sure their parents would approve of that either.

What will it be next from US Public Relations damage control, free puppy flea collars so we forget the jobs that will be lost as labor rates are artificially forced upward? Yo Yos for all the kids in grade school so we don’t notice our tourist markets cut to the bone by forced immigration laws designed to protect them not us? Free baby powder to all Moms so they forget their older sons and daughters are fighting and dying for a country that will not allow them voting representation in its Legislature?

I do agree that with the author’s tongue in cheek suggestion that we should secede, but that is fodder for another article. By the way, it was a great parody.
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Article XII Complainers
Non eligible folks who complain about the current status of land ownership restrictions as decreed in Article XII of the Covenant remind me of people who move into a neighborhood directly under the departure end of a major jet airport then complain about the noise. Article XII was in place when you moved here, you knew about it, so quit harping. Would you move onto an Indian Reservation in the US and then demand the Native Americans there sell their land to you? Not likely.

Land alienation is a complex issue with positive and negative points on all sides of the question of whether to keep it, end it or replace it with another system. One side says land values will soar if Article XII is repealed; another says the local traditions will be forever lost. There are many other side issues pro and con. One thing is certain for me. While outsiders and Johnny-come-Latelys, like me, can rant and opine all we wish, the matter should and must be decided not by us but by those actually affected. Those currently eligible to own land here, and only those so affected, should be allowed to decide their own fate. If brought to a vote now or in the future, only those indigenous people eligible to own land should be allowed to vote on the issue.

Even the time to hold the vote, if any, is in question. Some say in 2011, others say the 25-year clock started ticking in 1976 at the Covenant signing so the earliest vote date already passed in 2001. Either way, lets not get sidetracked into letting others vote and thus decide for the real stakeholders, those of Marianas Descent.

Quote of the week: There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters. Alice Thomas Ellis (1932 – 2005)


Jeff said...

OK, Mr. Freedom, bunch of stuff you're way off on here. Do you want the government telling you you can't sell your land to who you want, or leave it to your non-indigenous wife if you pass away before she does?

On the vaccine, this applies for life, so it just doesn't help the teen as a teen, but in perpetuity, so the moralizing argument doesn't work, not to mention that teens are and continue to have sex.

Puerto Rico doesn't vote, either. States vote. This isn't a state. These places don't seem eager to pay the federal taxes state citizens pay -- just enjoy the benefits.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I just want the people who own property or are currently eligible to do so to be the ones to choose whether they will keep the current system, change it or repeal it altogether. It's their choice, and not one that belongs to others. Example, would you like to see the entire earth's population be eligible to vote on whether The US should get to keep it's rather large, well endowed chunk of North America?

And damnit I applaud them for having sex! I just think they should be paying for their own safeguards. Forcing others to pay for their fun is immoral. If we have to pay we should at least get a maybe we should get to watch. (Just kidding justice department).

Nor am I eager for the CNMI to pay those taxes or to have a vote. I simply point out the inconsistency of allowing (and maybe soon requiring) armed service without a more direct connection or direct representation. And get real, the amount of largesse drizzled out to the CNMI is not a gnat's hiccough compared with the huge chunks stolen from, then redivided (after their cut) back to the States. "The benefits" don't amount to a hill of beans. This level of spending probably doesn't warrant a footnote in a 3 Trillion dollar budget. They spend more on studies to find out if gays might live in San Francisco. (Not that there is anything wrong with that) (:-)). Even so, it is dead wrong to saddle US taxpayers with payments to the CNMI. But it is usually better to keep colonial populations from getting too restless so you toss them a bone every once in a while.

BoReGo said...

Maybe if they just let us do our jobs, especially teaching kids how to read (learning to read and reading to learn) our kids could make good choices for themselves.

Jeff said...

Criticizing a bad law isn't deciding, it's still just criticizing.

You're all for agreements, it shows in your Article XII statements. When they agreed on the covenant, was there a provision to vote for president or to have a voting representative? For that matter, was the agreement that they would control immigration forever to bloat the labor supply and harm all the citizens here not connected enough to be in the bureaucracy.

Who gets to keep land is generally a militarily solved dispute, not one that comes to a vote. I think on that grounds, the U.S. will be keeping the U.S.

We differ on our views on this being the states. I think it is. You said Guam is U.S. soil, but this isn't. I don't think you and me and others are just "anyone" here. I don't think these people born here are lesser Americans. The colonial tag is absurd because the mother country exploits the colonized in a traditional colonial situation, a tag you throw around for its negative connotations. It doesn't typically enable its welfare state, and vaccinate its women, and make its citizens eligible for college loans, and provide its defense and offer it aid when the hurricanes hit, allow its citizens to live in the mother country and even potentially become its president or provide the freedom of movement a blue passport allows.

That is something you do for fellow citizens, which this place consists of.

Answer me this question, Bruce. A starving adult in some desperately poor country like we see on tv would probably work here, or in the states, for $1.00 a day. Should someone be able to hire them for that amount? It would be their choice as a worker. Shouldn't government say it's not right and not allow it? When does it become wrong to the point of illegality to exploit the desperate?

bigsoxfan said...

I think a society with any sort of disposable cash should at least put some of it towards protecting kids from their own youthful mistakes. Also, child rape is bad enough, but the tag on chance of passing along a virus which would kill the innocent victim twenty-odd years down the road, deserves a little extra protection. If there is a good use for tax dollars, I would rate the vaccine slightly above roadwork.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

For right now I will answer only the last of your queries and reserve the rest until I have some time to pen a reasonable response for the others.

Long Answer:
Ask the guy willing to take the buck an hour job if he would rather sit where he is and starve or work for the buck and live.

Just to be fair lets take it out of the realm of starving and just make it a skilless high school kid (one of your less scholarly students perhaps) who wants to learn to do something useful. He/she is willing to go to an employer and say “I really don’t know squat about your business, but I am willing to work for only $1 per hour while I learn, will you teach me the things I want to know if I work hard for you?” (I did this once….I’ll relate the story while we are diving tomorrow).

How about a skilled but unemployed person with a family to support?

What about two free people that just want to agree to some wage/work/hours scale other than that imposed by an imperious department of something or other? Neither is under any duress or any compunction to either hire or be hired.

Now to the heart of your question: Would the starving man rather some bureaucrat with a gun tell him he must starve rather than be “exploited”. Would the Student rather be told to learn to read his ‘food stamp’ because he hasn’t skills enough to be productive enough to earn the forced minimum wage. Would the man trying to support his family rather work productively than beg for a handout from the same government that forbade him to work? Would the two independents rather not have access to something each is willing to trade for because ,,,well, just because an oppressive rule arbitrarily said so?

Jeff, be honest, wouldn’t it be better all around if each person had the ability to freely decide and freely agree to work together or not, as THEY choose? Whatever and however they choose?

Short answer: No, there is NO case where it is better for someone with a government gun to force otherwise consenting adults to do other than they wish to do vis a vis employment relations.

Sadly, that free world is not a place we live in. Here or anywhere else. That does not mean we cannot work toward that ideal by peaceful means.

This has become LOOOONG so I will close. See you tomorrow.

Jeff said...

They have what you describe. They are called internships.

I agree with you that the starving man would be rather sweeping floors at Porky's or some similar establishment, but it's still wrong to exploit his being in a desperate condition and from a screwed up country. The strong taking advantage of the weak is pretty much always wrong.

At the end of the day, these are people with real needs and real weaknesses, not pawns in a game, and not blips in some kind of theoretical computer game, and you can't just rely on good will. Historically that hasn't worked and that's where you had fedudalism and the robber barons.

The world you want might be theoretically more productive, but the real needs of real people trump the theory that 1 percent of the people should theoretically be able to own virtually all the wealth because they are somehow smarter or stronger than others. The trend is going that way btw.

The field is never as even as it would have to be for the world you want to exist that is this pure uber government minimalist state.

I do believe in the golden mean and that there is too much government now. The balance isn't in communism or total free market abandon, it's somewhere in the middle.