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Jun 24, 2008

Should the CNMI change its status?

Congressman Stanley Torres has re-introduced legislation to study alternatives for the CNMI's status and relationship with the U.S. Although we don't want to pre-empt the work of the commission that would be created to study this issue under the legislation, we can at least get the discussion going. Should the CNMI change its status? If so, what should it change its status to?

One option would be independence in "free association" with the U.S. This is the status that applies to the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. Although the freely associated states enjoy more automony than the CNMI, their autonomy is compromised by their heavy dependence on U.S. aid. And although they receive very high levels of aid per capita, they probably receive significantly less than what they would have received had they chosen to become territories. The FSM and the Marshalls have not been able to use their aid to get themselves on a path to sustainable economic development. If Palau has done better, it is perhaps because of its small and more concentrated population, better location (closer to Asia) and natural beauty that is amazing even by Pacific Island standards.

Also, other than the right to use FDM and training facilities on Tinian and the Northern Islands (all of which the U.S. military could probably live without), what would motivate Uncle Sam to cough up a huge economic aid package under a Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Northern Mariana Islands?

Independence without free association with the U.S. is another option. Places like Kiribati demonstrate how difficult it is for small Pacific island nations to support themselves without a major benefactor.

How about reunification with Guam? Could that lead to eventual statehood? The population of Wyoming, the state that currently has the fewest people, is just over 500,000, and Alaska, North Dakota and Vermont each has less than 665,000 people.

How about the status quo? Is that so bad?

The U.S. Constitution probably doesn't allow any options other than those listed above, at least in terms of affiliation with the U.S. (If we missed one, please point it out.)

Is this bill motivated by bad feelings over the recent federalization debate? Is this a discussion that is nonetheless worth having?

47 comments:

cactus said...

Before we rush to change our status, we need some clarity as to what our status is now. We all know what Al Stayman thinks it is -- total subjection to the arbitrary will of the federal government. If he's right, then we sure as hell need to change it. Stanley, however, is being a little too quick to assume that Stayman is right. Let's see what the courts say about that first.

Ms. D. said...

This is the old Hillblom argument that Jed Horey likes to resurrect.

It has been rejected by the Ninth Circuit and is of interest only in academic circles. It is essentially wishful thinking, though perhaps a nice meal ticket for the lawyer who gets to argue it.

other than the right to use FDM and training facilities on Tinian and the Northern Islands (all of which the U.S. military could probably live without),

My dear blog hosts, don't be so quick to denigrate our strategic value. How do you think we got to be a commonwealth in the first place, rather than part of a united Micronesia, which was Henry Kissinger's preference?

For U.S. military pilots, FDM is the only bombing range in the Pacific.

Anonymous said...

The Covenant establishes a PERMAMENT political relationship between the CNMI and the US.

Which part of PERMANENT doesn't the legislature understand?

PERMANENT means "lasting forever or for a very long time, especially without undergoing significant change." It also means "never changing or not expected to change."

Ms. D. said...

I’m sure the 16th Commonwealth Legislature understands that fully.

Covenant § 105 also provides that the fundamental provisions of the Covenant can be modified by mutual consent.

Speaking of which, our Constitution does not yet contain a method whereby the Commonwealth is to exercise this consent, if it is ever needed -- for big matters such as the foregoing, or simply “ratifying” a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution and making it applicable here under Covenant § 501(a). I propose that changes to the Covenant requiring mutual consent be proposed or ratified in the same manner as amendments to our constitution. See N.M.I. Const. art. XVIII.

Island Girl said...

Good comments so far, and by all means let the legal debate continue. We'd also like to hear what people think about what status they would like. Are you happy with the current status (and yes, Cactus addressed that), or would something like what the FSM has be better?

Anonymous said...

In the post 9/11 world there are very few free choices; and none for the weak and the powerless.
The Torres proposal is a drunk's dream, interesting only because it is so fanciful.

carlos the mackerel said...

Clear this up for me, will you, Anonymous -- are you mourning this supposed lack of free choice, or gloating about it?

glend558 said...

And the loose cannon rattles again.

Anonymous said...

Carlos,

I am merely recognizing a very sad reality which I believe moots the present discussion. The United States has lost its moral compass, hopefully it is only temporary. In this temporary time the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned of is in full control. As they systematically establish "Fort Guam" they will not, imho, allow any threat by human or remote control craft or leave any area unsecure if it has the remotest possibility of serving as a launch pad. regardless of how real the threat they will absolutely protect the lagest fuel pit in the world and whatever other weapons they possess on the N and S ends of the island. Any attack on Fort Guam has the potential for being the greatest military tragedy and embarrassment since Pearl Harbor.
I am not gloating, just being curt in my lament - we are now without a choice because of the many wrong choices we've made.

carlos the mackerel said...

Thank you for clearing that up, Anonymous. I read you wrong, for which I duly apologize.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments and I believe that the United States had overstep it's authority and violated the covenant provisions with regards to self governance.

Little by little the United States Congress is being overruled by the United states Supreme court as in the recent ruling over the Guantanamo bay prison and the violation of rights by prisoners and the fact that the US constitution does not apply in Guantanamo Bay military post.

Now the question is whether the US Constitution does not apply to all US military post.

If this is the case then I believe that there will be some legal constitution questions over the application federal control over the CNMI labor and immigration. More importantly is the fact that the measure was done unilaterally and without the consent of its people.

Anonymous said...

And when I say people, I mean the local indigenous people and not the unity marchers.

carlos the homo said...

Yes. The unity marchers are filthy animals and we locals are proud Taotao Tano. Tina Sablan is a trader to her own peoples.

carlos the mackerel said...

I like licking big balls.

to be free said...

if we become a country, what money will we use? what labor standards will apply? what money will float our government? our economy?

where will the local populace turn when their stores accept food stamp despite the loss of the nutrition assistance program?

who will pay to fix the roads? not the feds. who will pay for our schools? not the feds. who will pay for all of our federally funded vehicles when there isn't anyone to federally fund us?

i think the same corrupt powers who allowed the tan clan to rise on saipan will be the same ones who make backdor dealings with the evil chinese commies.

just watch, times will become so desperate that some loco local will be fooled into thinking that the chinese are friendly.

nope.

they're bad to the bone.

i'm all for succession, but how will it work? i have to admit that i'm a little scared of living in a land run by the stanleys of this world.

aren't we about to break free of the bush tyrany? so now what, we'll have to live with someone fitial as the president of the nmi?

wow.

maybe we can be like palau and work for $1 an hour. too bad we won't be able to have all of the cool dive sites and quality herb.

i fear that succession will only open the door to the whole of the commonwealth looking like la fiesta mall.

cactus said...

I like licking big hairy balls.

fitial sucks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
fitial is a tan employee said...

Fucking Governor Ben Tan. You idiot! Shut up about federalization! You hire lawyers with Willie Tan's money! Don't you use taxpayers' money you dumb ass!

Fucking dumb shit!

Lil' Hammerhead said...

There will be no change in status. I hope not one public penny is wasted on such an endeavor.. because it will be a waste. The public would never have it.

For the sake of argument, let's say we do vote for an alternative status.. that will certainly not be one of "free association" with the U.S. After all of these shenanigans.. do you really think the Federal Government is going to agree to any sort of "relationship" with the U.S.? No. We will be "disassociated".

Anonymous said...

Then we can sign a Compact of Free Disassociation.

Anonymous said...

Rogue state CNMI?

Saipan Middle Road said...

No "F" word(s) please. Here's the deleted message:

fitial is a tan employee said...

F*&(&^% Governor Ben Tan. You idiot! Shut up about federalization! You hire lawyers with Willie Tan's money! Don't you use taxpayers' money you dumb ass!

F^&^%$# dumb shit!

Island Girl said...

Hey, how come we allow the "S" word and the "A" word, but not the "F" word? Something for us to think about following the passing of George Carlin, with his famous routine about the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television".

Rev said...

lol!

The "S" word sounds alright at least for me...

Hmmm...maybe we should have 3 Things We Can't Say in the Blog...

1. "F" Word - Fitial
2. "F" Word - Federalization
3. "F" Word - Federal

;-)

carlos the mackerel said...

Readers, do not be deceived by the impostor above. I am sure I speak for Cactus as well when I say that neither he nor I have the least interest in licking balls of any kind. I regret any disappointment this announcement may cause some of you.

Anonymous said...

to be free...

If the idea of self government is what we truly want then a possible solution is to be independent.

US possessions in terms of colonies are the most underdeveloped as compared to European possessions such as Malaysia, Hong Kong.

In terms of military build up, Guam supposedly was going to get paid a little over $39 million dollars for military land lease but that money does not go to the local government or benefit it's people.

People will always say status quo in terms of federal assistance but the truth is that there are more assistance and grants out there that can be realized if we were independent.

Anonymous said...

On a separate note lets not forget the class action lawsuit many years ago that the local people brought against the federal government for discriminatory wage issues during the trust territory time.

The courts ruled in favor of the NMI people but the feds did not pay one cent because the us congress said there was no money to pay for the judgement.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Some federalists and colonial statists fear even having a Status Commission look at and seek answers to reasonable questions regarding the relationship between the parties, how it has evolved, what it's present state of development is and should there be any changes made.

Stanley is right; this is something that needs, nay cries out for, periodic appraisal.

Flag waving jingoists aside, the right of any free people to determine their own status and change it if they so choose is absolutely fundamental. To deny that is to propose slavery. Yes, slavery.

Begin the process, the sooner the better.

bradinthesand said...

so how did you side with the confederate states of america when they succeeded?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Sadly, Brad, the Confederacy didn't 'succeed' when they 'seceded'.

carlos the mackerel said...

When the Confederate States "succeeded," were they (as my gay namesake above put it) "traders" to the Union?

bradinthesand said...

wait, see, w-what had happened was...i think i meant to say succeeded in seceding...?

have fun with it. i try not to make too many grammatical errors but this one was the biggest in a while.

you slay me, carlos. but yes, they were traitors (traders--ha, ha, ha. i deserve it) to the union...as were the colonies to england.

i think england eventually got over it, but i don't recall them continuing their aid packages.

as for the rebs, they were traitors because they were countrymen with voting rights. can't say the same for the cnmi citizens.

there is a line of similarity because the confederates seceded because of their belief that the rights of a state should supersede those of the union.

in this case, it's the cnmi that believes that the commonwealth's government should hold all authority in matters of labor and immigration.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

No Porky.. we fear seeing the last of our pennies frittered away. You don't seem to have that concern where it comes to this issue, or the immigration lawsuit. You can hop on a plane and head back to wherever.. this is HOME to alot of folks. The majority I'm positive feel that taking care of CUC is where all of our pennies should be directed.

Anonymous said...

To Carlos the fish:

I'm not sure they were in the position to trade with the Union.

Anonymous said...

To Carlos the Homo:

Was Tina selling t-shirts to the local people?

Anonymous said...

To Carlos the Homo:

Was Tina selling t-shirts to the local people?

Anonymous said...

geez caveperson, you act lik its your money or something.

Anonymous said...

How about Commonwealth of CHINA or KOREA???

Tom

Anonymous said...

city-state?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Caveperson even pretends to have a real stake in all this other than as provocateur.

By implication he hopes to minimalize a legitimate argument with his drivel complaining I have the right to travel.

As does he/she/it.

I would submit that we have no idea whether you even still reside here, knucklehead. Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe you are just a paid hack writing your seamy crap from afar and pretending to live here having moved back to the states some time ago.

So pretending this is "HOME" to you and others need not apply, is just silly. As is the usual case with your asinine lines of thought.

Bring on the Status Commission, the sooner the better.

Anonymous said...

Stanley & Bateman for dogcatcher

Slogan "2 polecats are better than 1"

Anonymous said...

bruce you are absolutely correct in your analysis of lil hammerhead acting like her stake is the greatest in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

bateman is trying to replace jack angelo for stanly yes man

Anonymous said...

The "righteous local" should change their status. They hate aliens, they hate americans, they have other locals who support aliens. Strip off your US citizenship and give it to those who likes it. Use your taga stone for currency, use your pupulu leaf for food stamp. Eat taro all your life since you have no rice plantation here. Be local all the way!

Anonymous said...

You are so selfish with US Citizenship! Please be reminded that you locals were not US Citizen before. Chamoro children that are now US Citizen are just as equal as US Citizen children of aliens. Local US Citizen children are also brown colored like alien's US Citizen children. What's the difference? Aliens kids are smarter! Check the all the school's record.

Anonymous said...

Children who don't have a TV in the house get better grades than those who do.

Anonymous said...

It's the genes not the TV!

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