Let's blame the feds. “Federalization” is the Marianas' new code word for everybody's dreams and fears. A bastardized modifier that is usually made meaningless by being used as a subject.
Everything will get better if we federalize. Or worse. Federalize what? The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation? Some people are so confused by the constant demagoguery that they actually expect that to happen. Okay, the real subject, when opportunists and obfuscators aren't trying to score points, is U.S. control of local labor and immigration laws.
Sure, I expect this to work about as well as the pacification of Iraq. But who's to blame?
The feds didn't chase Japan Airlines away, they didn't let Continental Airlines abandon us for Guam. They didn't mortgage Saipan's (and the CNMI's) future for the notoriously fly-by-night garment industry.
Look a little closer to home. It's popular to blame the factories, and I wouldn't even attempt to explain their well-documented abuses away. But they're businesses. They buy cheap (including malleable politicians) and sell dear (the bag we're left holding). They use loopholes like Headnote 3(a) and they push laws and regulations to the limit—some beyond the limit if there's no enforcement. They lobby to keep wages low.
The federal government noticed. So we trundled off to Washington and said, look we know the wage is low, but we fixed it ourselves. No need for “federalization”. The law was unpassed as soon as the immediate crisis was over. We lied to the U.S. Congress.
Plan B was a doozy too. Let's abandon our bipartisan support in Washington and hook up with the sleaziest lobbyist we can find. As a reward, we can read about Saipan sweatshops every time we Google Jack Abramoff. Trips, cash and skyboxes for a few well-connected now-discredited panderers thwarted the will of Congress.
A dangerous game, and they play hardball in the big leagues. Like my beloved San Francisco Giants, our steroidal superstar is gone, with nothing left but swelled heads and shrunken gonads. Oh, and Grand Juries.
So there was an election, the roadblocks disappeared and the legislators who were played and blocked re-introduced their bills. They don't believe our promises and they don't trust our lobbyists. They certainly don't expect our politicians to do anything.
Who can blame them?