Friday, November 23, 2007


Senate fails override try.
An attempt to override the governor's veto of a student loan forgiveness bill failed in the Senate. Senate Bill 15-1 was rejected by the Senate in an override vote, after failing to secure the required two-thirds of the votes. The bill would have allowed scholarship agencies to write off the student loans of returning graduates who cannot get government jobs. Senate Vice President Pete P. Reyes sponsored the legislation. The bill was the first to be introduced in the 15th Senate. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial vetoed the bill, saying it was “simply bad policy” to relieve financial aid recipients forever of their debts because they cannot find employment in the government. “It is discriminatory to those recipients who pay back their loans,” Fitial said. “It makes the memorandum of agreement signed by every recipient, past, present, and future, meaningless. If students truly cannot find employment, perhaps deferment of loan payments should be the solution, not complete forgiveness. ”He also said the language of Senate Bill 15-1 allows for abuse by recipients of scholarship. He cited as an example the provision stating that a recipient will be forever relieved of any liability if he or she could just show proof of credentials to the Commonwealth and not being hired by a government agency. According to the governor, this allows recipients to apply for government positions that are not available for various reasons, be completely forgiven of their liabilities, and then seek employment in the private sector or off-island.
Now isn't this a piece of crap? I don't usually post the whole article but this one is a doozie!
If you want to read it it's right here...
So they want to forgive the loans made by students?
THERE'S MORE, Keep going down!


lil_hammerhead said...

Right off of the bat, I'll say I agree with you that this was a bad piece of legislation. Having said that, however, there are a great number of schemes in place for stateside graduates to write-off their student loans.. from service in needy communities, to volunteerism, requests due to hardship.. on and on.

I don't think most folks would be against writing off the remainder of some student loans for those who come and work here for a specified number of years. Any employment related to such a scheme however, should have nothing to do with whether or not you manage to get a government job.

This is exactly what I refer to when I talk about the pay not being what it should be. Most graduates are eager to work in their field, but owe alot of money and aren't willing to work for slavewages. We have a system here, where the only reasonable pay comes from the government. And the reality of even that is, most government salaries are still much lower than that of any private or public stateside salary.

glend558 said...

Sorry, Lil, I missed the part of alternative choices (schemes)in this bill, didn't even see them, maybe I should read it again... Nope still don't see them... Show them to me, please.. We're not talking about the 'remainder' of the loan are we?

me said...

What people running for lt. governor in 2009 will do? We've seen them all before and it will happen again unless we promise to not vote for such people.

lil_hammerhead said...

Oh no Glen.. on this particular bill.. I'm in total agreement with you. It is bad.

SteeleOnSaipan said...


I've read enough of your comments over the last few months to comfortably say that I do agree with many of your viewpoints that you've expressed. However, I usually don't agree with your views regarding the private sector and wages. That said, you seem like a good person so the following is not an attack on you or your views but simply my opinion in this discussion.

You often lament that wages here are not even close to comparable to what they are in the States, and that is of course true. But why should they be? The supply of highly skilled labor is low and the demand for highly skilled labor is low as the number of quality businesses requiring highly skilled labor is low here, so again, why do you feel that wages here should be as high as in the States? Market forces would not support it and like it or not, market supply and demand will always outweigh legislation in the long run. High wages in the States are the result of intense competition among quality companies to employ the best and brightest, and not the result of a minimum wage.

Your comments on the private sector often leave me with the impression that you lump all businesses into your "businesses don't pay enough" theory. There are good, reputable businesses that employ well over the 20% minimum, local requirement and who pay their employees a fair, market wage. There are also many businesses that don't employ locals and screw-over their foreign labor. The company that I work for is in the former category and I'd love to see every company in the latter category disappear from the Commonwealth. But how do these companies continue to exist here? Ask your politicians who are fighting off U.S. Immigration with all their power and who make good side-livings out of signing waivers to bring in more foreign labor, or to not employ 20% locals, or to ship off copper wire despite an outbound cargo restriction, etc., etc., etc.

Wages have not gone up here in over a decade now because your elected officials allow that to happen. The only businesses that are opening shop nowadays are either foreign-owned, and we know how most of them operate, or/and they are illegal in nature altogether. And these businesses usually don't employ locals now do they? Nor do they contribute much, if anything in taxes.

Believe it or not, there are local persons in the CNMI who profit handsomely from all this chaos that we call a crappy economy. Unfortunately, these are the same people that keep getting elected to office. Once the local population starts pointing the blame in the right direction and stops re-electing the people that are holding the Commonwealth back, then maybe some of these improvements that you, I and most of us long for, can become reality.

Finally, your statement "I don't think most folks would be against writing off the remainder of some student loans for those who come and work here for a specified number of years" is troubling. If I were paying a student loan, I would certainly be against what you suggest. There is an overwhelming feeling or opinion here that a contract is just a piece of paper that can be re-negotiated if the terms become disagreeble at some point in time.
That's bullshit and it's time people here in the CNMI start owning up to their commitments instead of looking to get out of them half-way through.

Again, don't take my comments personally. I may sound pissed when I write but I'm not.
Have a nice weekend.

glend558 said...

Steele, "ditto"

Boni said...

CNMI Scholarship repayment is in years of service. If you get scholarship, you have to pay back 2 years for each year given to the government. If you can't get a job working, how can you pay back your years of service?

glend558 said...

Boni, Sorry if it it close to home.. But is this the solution?
Walk away? Maybe there is an alternate service, was that addressed? Maybe scrap the origional plan, or make some changes in the repayment requirments... Why train people for unavailable jobs?

lil_hammerhead said...

Steele - I agree with you.. businesses cannot pay stateside wages. No disagreement on that point with you whatsoever. The fact is though, businesses here aren't paying any realistic wage whatsoever. And that does go for the large majority of businesses. I know of a couple of good businesses that have worked hard to recruit locally and have always paid well above the local "slavewage". No one in the community will benefit from not paying reasonable wages. Locals will never take private sector jobs, there will never be a stable citizen workforce, there will always be a huge rift between local workers and the private sector, we will always be dependent on cheap labor from foreign countries and we will continue to see a brain drain in the CNMI.. if we continue to foster an incredibly low wage scale. This is a simple fact.

If all the walls must fall down and be rebuilt correctly over time.. than that's what must happen. If we are not willing to rebuild the foundation of our economy correctly.. the foundation must simply be removed and rebuilt.

With regard to the local student loan forgiveness scheme.. the US offers a number of loan forgiveness schemes. You should research this online. Both of my college financial aid counselors detailed some of these to me when I was a student, albeit that was many years ago.

In the end, there is simply no way a reasonable person can argue that our labor and wage system is anything but unfair. Unfair to both our resident citizenry and our non-resident workers.

For example, I hear this particular argument all of the time with regard to the need to continue to maintain our current labor sytem - "We need to be able to hire professional and technical staff that aren't available here". Now I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with a business having the ability to hire professional staff, if their efforts to hire in the NMI/US prove fruitless. But if you are truly looking for professional staff, then I expect that the "professional" staff are going to receive wages in line with their "professional" duties. If you need an architect, hire one.. but not at $4.00 an hour! When you do this, you don't really need professional staff.. you need cheap labor. This is the problem with most of the excuses for continuing our labor system in the manner that it is currently run.. almost all of the excuses are really just facades for access to cheap labor.

And to be clear.. I only put blame on ourselves for this. I place blame on us as a community for electing these government folks over and over again and not rising above particular personal agendas for the better and long-term good of the NMI. We are now harvesting the bitter fruits that are a product of voting for relatives because they were relatives, or because a job was promised, or because you recieved personal assistance on occasion, or because you recieved money for a funeral or medical expenses.

I believe this will be corrected. I believe it will take a long time. There is no quick solution. We need, in many respects, to start from scratch.. not try to work with failed policies. One of the failed policies is allowing the low wages, which is simply done to facilitate a large body of cheap labor.

glend558 said...

Lil, With more people on your track things can improve, but as you say, it will take a long time..
Notice how the pictures change the tone of things?

lil_hammerhead said...

I'm not sure I get you on the "notice how pictures change the tone of things"..

If it is a reference to anonymous bloggers, the fact is, I've had just as many reasonable "discussions" with anonymous commenters. I've noticed alot more bias and have had debates cut short significantly more times with non-anonymous commenters.

glend558 said...

Lil I just changed the pictures on the posts from piles of shit to different pictures a bit more desirable, I thought. Thats all...

lil_hammerhead said...

Oh :) my bad. Sometimes I read too much into things.

Boni said...

There needs to be an alternative. More degree offerings so that not everyone has to go into the classroom. Believe me, we don't need people in the schools just to repay their loans. Also, if you can't get a job here, yes in the education loan, it's 2 years for every year of scholarship, then pay back the money. Sometimes graduates come back and totally refuse to pay their years of service because they don't like the jobs available. That's a choice they make, either sacrifice and do the time, or give the money back to scholarship so that someone else can get an education. This bill can be improved. The more conversation the better.

Pilgrim said...

Never mind advanced degrees at off-island colleges. Spend that scholorship money on FREE trade school right here at home for any US Citizen who can get out of bed and get to class.

Produce tradesmen that can do the work that the contract workers are doing. Masonry, Carpentry, Heavy equpment operator, Cabinet Making, Auto Mechanics, Electronics Repair, Plumbing, Electrician, and so on.

Randy- you are right on as well. It's a shame that the good companies are lumped in with the dogs in all the debate.

Pragmatic Plato said...

Trade Schools in the CNMI. Everyone seems to jump on that bandwagon whenever the issue of "locals" getting jobs comes up.

Spend money to set up a trade school. Educate the "locals" on carpentry, auto mechanics, electrician, etc. Subsides funding for "locals" to go to these schools and learn a trade. Locals graduate and head out to be important facets of our private sector. NOT.

They will get the training, graduate and then head off on the first plane to a place where their newly learned skills are adequately compensated for (Hawaii, Mainland, Guam, etc.

Why would they spend time learning a new career and then apply for a job that pays $3.05/hr (no error on the amount. I just saw the listing in last weeks tribune for a carpenter). Especially when the same job pays $15/hr 100 miles away.

Training is not the main problem. The main problem is access to cheap labor.

Boycott Porky's!


SteeleOnSaipan said...

Hello and sorry for being absent, didn't mean to drop the ball on being in the debate but this past weekend was Xmas-prep weekend and all my lights are up!

Hi Boni,
I don't know anything about the regs for the student loan program so thanks for the lesson, pun reference intended. Certainly loan deferral is one way of dealing w/ returning students unable to find jobs. They won't stay unemployed forever and if the program requires gov't employment, then you're right, they should amend the regs pronto.
I can think of many reasons to be against loan forgiveness, the fact that a broke and near-bankrupt gov't shouldn't be forgiving any debt is one reason. That the legislation would be yet another example of legislation that benefits a few at the expense of all taxpayers is another.

Hammer, your the man, or woman, not sure since you won't say. I'll just agree to disagree with you on some things labor-related. The federalization of the minimum wage rate kind of makes the argument moot anyways and federalization of immigration will clean up the riff-raff, foreign-owned businesses that are responsible for most negative, labor-related issues.

Plato, your comment was absurd, even for a bust, and further reply isn't justified.

Pragmatic Plato said...

Randy, you are absurd.

Sorry if I opffended you by attacking your bud.

My comment if you read it and understood it is more to the point than anything you have typed.

Boycott Porky's!


Anonymous said...

Hey PP.. so which is better? Scholarships to off Island institutions for degrees in basket weaving, sociology or as I asked one young lady, what was her major and she replied, "computer".

Better to let a trained tradesman work off the education costs on-island. The wage issues are resolving and the market will prevail eventually when people see the costs of bringing in H2 workers after the federalization. Nobody has discussed prevailing wage rates but you only have to look at the Guam Employment Service ads on Guam.

And training IS the problem. Unfortunately the current labor laws require businesses to train locals to replace the foreign workers. Sure.. ring the bell, class is in session.