Why Are We In Trouble?

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Editorial April 1998

At the behest of the Asian Development Bank/International Monetary Fund recommendation, a truly important series of seminars were held earlier this year in the Marshalls, seminars designed to focus on the future, and to tap into the real feelings and thoughts of the rank and file members of our society, the individuals too often ignored by swell-headed leaders assured of the preeminence of their own views and plans.

We called the meetings "NESS", an acronym for National Economic and Social Summit. And in its own way, we suppose that the touted frankness and opportunity for expression did and does have certain value. In the recently concluded session of Nitijela, for example, we heard numerous references to recommendations of the NESS, an indication that at least some awareness has been achieved that problems exist and must be addressed in a planned, consistent manner. No argument at all about that.

We do, however, have a serious misgiving about the superficial tone of most of the talk we hear bandied about with reference to economic problem solving and planning. We seem, through NESS, to have successfully skirted the whole question of what got us into the mess we are in.

The NESS, as far as it went, dealt almost exclusively with the future.

But the root of the problems we are now experiencing, problems that other Pacific neighbors such as the Republic of Kiribati or the FSM State of Yap are not experiencing, has not yet been properly addressed or considered.

We all know that if an airplane crashes, great effort is expended to determine the cause of the crash and to come up with recommendation to avoid a future crash.

Well, sorry to say, but our economy has crashed, and to our knowledge we have seen no report on why, we have seen no report on how, and we have seen no indication of who.

Back at the beginning of our current Compact era, by our own reckoning, the RMI had enough money to foster an independent economy, driven by the private sector. Yet what we saw in the intervening years was expansion of government employment, and exodus or failure-to-start spate of business movement, and a continuing failure of the government to realize that mortgaging future income to obtain immediate cash was a short term solution to long term dependency.

We hear nothing but platitudes about the past, and insofar as these platitudes are not representative of the real truth, we will have no real development.

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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