Monday, May 11, 2015

Micronesia, Federated States of

Six hundred Pacific islands, sub-divided into four groups, named Pohnpei, Chuuk (which is also called Truk), Kosrae and Yap. The total geographical area is about five times the size of France, but no, it is not a French overseas department, nor an administered territory – it exists under a “Compact of Free Association” with the USA, which formally grants the Americans not only the right to establish military bases as it pleases, but to deny access to Micronesia by any other country, in exchange for “economic aid” (a euphemism in this case for “rent”) of around $100m annually - $3.5 billion over twenty years was the deal signed by George W. Bush in 2003, but $100m is the figure generally used - which is peanuts. The peanuts are useful however, as the inhabitants of these islands have virtually nothing else to live on, and vast numbers of Filipino migrants are competing for a share of the nothingness. They are not competing for the electricity or the running water however, because there is none for the vast majority of the population. There is little work either, and tourism, the obvious source of jobs and income, is unlikely, for the reason noted above, that the Compact prohibits anyone from going anywhere near the place, including American civilians, because the military doesn’t want them to know that they themselves are there.

The US, incidentally, calls them the Caroline Islands, and describes them as “a UN Trust Territory under US administration following World War II”. No mention, obviously, of those military bases, merely a statement that “present concerns include large-scale unemployment, overfishing, and overdependence on US aid.” They might have added the words “extreme” and “poverty”, but apparently they chose not to.

Just to give a sense of what $100m can buy, this was the exact sum spent in the 2014 elections for the Governorship of Florida. has tackled the question as well, noting that Liberal mega donor Tom Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million dollars to fund Democrats who support his environmental agenda, and that Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 comes at the same price, paint job included. In 2013 Tiger Woods earned just $78.5m, but he has had better years, coming top in the world earnings rankings every year from 2002 until 2013, except 2012, when boxer Floyd Mayweather beat him (Mayweather earned $85m that year). Tiger’s total earnings over the period add up to almost exactly $1,000m (he is about 93 cents short to be absolutely imprecise, but you can do the calculation yourself at, which means he could not only pay off the entire rent for Micronesia single-handed, but would have enough left over to run the military bases and feed the population as well. And now let’s talk about the next ninety-nine names on the golf list, the tennis list, the baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer…

Marks For: 0

Marks Against: 100 million, per annum

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