Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Package Deal
Snail Mail
Something happens to mail on Saipan. Much of the time it works well, considering we all live thousands of miles from the nearest sizable hub and even more thousands away from the US mainland, our mail manages to get here most of the time. True, a Priority Mail envelope takes a week or 10 days or two weeks to get here, but it does get here, most of the time. But not all the time.

Everyone I have talked to about the ‘disappearing’ mail seems to have experienced it. In casual conversation it has come up many times. That tells me it is a significant percentage of loss, one worth talking about. After you read this, start asking around. I’m betting you will find most everyone you talk to about it has either sent mail that did not arrive or has waited to receive mail that never got here, multiple times.

I have noticed that a package sent from the States to be received here has a much greater chance of being ‘lost’ that one being sent the other way. I’m not sure why that would be, but it is noteworthy. I have noticed that a package sent “insured” for any amount has a far greater chance of being received than one that is not. Insurance provides not just a financial buffer against possible loss but also a mechanism for tracking. Perhaps the tracking capability is what causes the successful delivery ratio to rise.

Missing mail is not just an inconvenience; it is a crime…and a Federal crime at that. Mail that goes missing is almost unheard of in the US, maybe that is because the penalties for stealing it are so severe. A recent case in North Carolina turned out to be an inside job where a USPS employee was stealing mail that looked like greeting cards. She would keep any cash, then destroy all the checks and the cards themselves. She kept quiet about it but still got caught because of internal security systems in place. Those systems don’t seem to be working too well on the route that gets mail out here.

The above is a rare event Stateside, an inside job doesn’t happen all that often. Mail is sometimes stolen from corner pick up boxes (which we don’t have here) or from exposed multiple outside mail delivery boxes near apartments or office buildings (which we also don’t have). Those mail thieves are usually caught and do severe prison time. We had a case a while back where someone broke in and stole mail from the Capital Hill post office branch and was caught fairly quickly.

I think it is more than distance, more than coincidence, more than a logistically complex path of mail delivery. I think there is a security breech somewhere up the line and that someone inside USPS internal affairs needs to take a hard look and find the cause of Saipan’s “Missing Mail”. Since it travels via commercial air carrier, maybe that is the source of the leaking mailbags.

Missing or not, we should count our blessings about having access to one of the best, most efficient and even with all the increases, one of the cheapest forms of mail and package delivery on the planet. It is a pretty darned good deal to send a letter from here to Omaha or Boston, for the same price it takes to send it to Chalan Kanoa or Guam. I would just like it to arrive more often.
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Own-lee fie dolla
I see in the news where ex attorney general Pam Brown is ringing in with her negative opinion about whether or not our government should sue the US government to get the Federal Court’s opinion about the legality of interference with our local labor laws.

Is this the same Pam Brown who has remained conspicuously absent from public scrutiny since her foray into paid ‘philanthropy’ a couple of years back? Pam’s ‘last great hurrah’ as attorney general was a regulation change snuck into the Commonwealth Register public record under a phony cover name so it would hopefully not be discovered.

Her scheme to kidnap Vietnamese hookers, bring them to Saipan and 'rehabilitate' them for fun and profit was a low point in CNMI history and rightfully drew mass public criticism when Ruth Tighe (perhaps the only person who actually reads the Register) exposed the sordid affair. Ms. Brown didn't even show up at the 'hookers for hire' public meeting, she was so embarrassed at being caught.

Right…her’s is an opinion I sure want to give a lot of credence to. Not.
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Ace of Spades
On a more important note, the legal question posed above is an interesting one. It is a question I would like to see answered, and one that many other residents and business owners and a good number of attorney’s and scholars in the CNMI would like to have answered. Does the US Constitution trump the CNMI Covenant when the only reason the US Constitution has any sway here at all is through the enabling provisions inside the Covenant itself?

The answer to the question may well determine the fate of ‘local self government’ as promised in the Covenant and as promised to the people who voted to accept the help and assistance of the US as they transitioned from a public ward to a free people. A promise was made to the world. Will it be kept?
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Quote of the week:
The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case. Thomas Paine, patriot and philosopher (1737 – 1809)
Put another way: He who’s representative does not have a vote, has no representative. That person and that nation of persons without representation are slaves and colonists, not free men. Bruce A. Bateman, pundit and curmudgeon. (1918 - )


KAP said...

It's not about trumping. The Covenant specifically says which parts of the Constitution don't apply.

I always looked at the mail as a tradeoff: some of my magazines just never made it to me but I got someone else's in return. I always return them tho I read the good ones first. Others aren't so nice. One of the reasons I don't do subscriptions any more, the other is getting them two months late.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

1918? I had no idea you were that young!

Anonymous said...

The mail is going missing from en-route post offices. One in California, and one in Washington. Most of the missing boxes, or boxes received with missing items transitted through the same two post offices. Many of the missing boxes were from Walmart and similar stores and contained electronics. Many laptops. Individual employees have been busted at the Washington Post Office, but the ring continues. Walmart has recently changed their policy with regards to shipments to Guam and the CNMI due to these incidents. They used to replace the items outright.. they no longer do this.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Lil Hammerhead.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

If not trumping then what do you call unilateral changes to local labor laws...not immigration laws, but labor laws?

I don't get anyone else's mags or misdirected mail. Maybe the p.o. forwarder I use is better at sorting/delivering to the correct box. Beats me.

I keep myself in excellent shape through proper diet and exercise.

An interesting theory. I'm sure you are as knowledgeable about the inner workings of the post office and Wal-Mart internal affairs as you are about the functional details of say, nuclear reactors, brain surgery or deep sea fishing.

KAP said...

I keep hearing and reading this labor rant. Where does it come from?

I've been back-and-forth through the Covenant and the only mention of labor laws I can find is "the minimum wage provisions of Section 6, Act of June 25, 1938, 52 Stat. 1062, as amended" "will not apply to the Northern Mariana Islands except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress by law".

Unilateral? You bet. That's what sovereignty is. Top down.

The Governor can ask for 902 talks, of course. That would lead to a report and recommendations. Then Congress will decide.

Cut back on that Koolaid.

cactus said...

"I have noticed that a package sent from the States to be received here has a much greater chance of being ‘lost’ that one being sent the other way."

I think it's because everybody here knows where the US is, but nobody in the US knows where we are. One guy I know just received a letter that was first sent to the Bahamas (on the theory that one island is as good as another, I guess), and somebody else got one that came by way of Jakarta (probably because the address included the word "Micronesia," which somebody somewhere thought meant "Indonesia").

I find that it actually helps to include the words "Pacific Ocean" in the address on all mail to Saipan -- that way it gets more quickly to someone who has heard of us!


"Unilateral? You bet. That's what sovereignty is. Top down."

Where did you take civics class, Kap? TAt the court of Louis XIV? Last I heard the people were sovereign, which would make sovereignty bottom up, right?

Speaking of which, that is a great quote from Paine. Where can I find it in his works?

Boni said...

How much is that "doggie" in the window?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I received a 'lost' package today. Sent priority mail insured, it arrived smashed, dashed, crashed, cut open and hashed in just a little under one full month's time.

If we can send a man to the moon......yeah, yeah, yeah.......

KAP said...

It's circular: the people are sovereign through their representatives, who have sovereignty. I can't smoke Cuban cigars. This isn't a democracy, after all.

It breaks down here, of course, as you've said elsewhere. We have no vote nationally. I chose that, along with no land alienation, by moving here.

You have a beef, though many would say you chose it too.

KAP said...

Years ago, before the MP, I got a letter that had obviously been routed through Cameroon.

I'm constantly fighting with or educating businesses about Saipan. I often give up without ordering.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

…And if I were the HNIC I would choose to change it, and certainly don't mind if others with the power to do so choose to try and change it.

Nothing wrong with trying to better one's deal. They got a pretty crappy one, and it is becoming worse with the coming labor/immigration slam dunk. Maybe, just maybe we can get someone's attention over there other than Allen F. Stayman. Maybe not, but it's worth a try.

Cactus, I googled to try and find the provenance of that quote...haven’t found it yet. I got the quote itself from one of the many "quote servers" out there. He wrote quite a lot over a fairly long life. Thanks for asking. The search is leading me back into some of his works that deserve a reread with a fresh perspective.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

"I'm constantly fighting with or educating businesses about Saipan."

Me too, Ken. An example: Sam's Club, a great place to shop and to access excellent prices does not know that 96950 exists. Its cousin, Walmart, can mail to us but not Sam's.

One competent IT guy could change that entry in about 30 seconds, but it takes months if ever at all to get the point across, as you pointed out.

cactus said...

Sometimes you can get around the address problem in other ways. For example, Northwest Airlines doesn't have an option for "MP" when buying tickets online, but it will authorize the purchase if you enter that you live in "Saipan, HI."