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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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)