Sunday, June 14, 2015

Northern Mariana Islands

Meanwhile, back in the French Pacific, The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, known as CNMI for short, which also happens to stand for the Confederation of Non-Minimum-Wage Imployees (I am using the "Polynesian" pronunciation here) or the Combined Native and Migrant Industries, and also for Come-on Nobody Minds Indigenous-people-getting-ripped-off, not to mention… but I shall leave you to spell out the acronym in your own way.

Actually the islands aren't in the Philippine Sea at all, but are a part of New York’s garment district, an extended sweat-shop west of Hester Street, self-governing, but linked to the USA in such a way that Chinese migrant and indigenous workers are exempt from minimum wage (which means the employers are not paying even as much as minimum wage, but it sounds so much better when expressed my way). There are no immigration laws either – CNMI residents are counted as US citizens - so anyone who wants can just turn up (boats are not recommended, but there are numerous airports) and put on a set of voluntary chains, and make product for the American market. So attractive is this proposition, migrant workers, mostly from China and the Philippines, now outnumber the indigenous population by more than two to one; though to be fair, the indigenes didn't get a fair start in this rivalry, as most of them have been systematically wiped out in an onslaught that started in the 16th century with diseases brought by the Spanish colonists, and then by guns brought by the German colonists, and then by still more guns brought by the Japanese colonists, and then still more guns brought by the heroic American liberators (the battle for Saipan, the largest of these islands, is regarded by historians as a key turning-point in the war with Japan, because winning it, and the islands surrounding it, enabled the Americans to establish this is as the staging-post for the planes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

What I haven’t worked out is this: if I were to go to the islands, and take a job for a week or two, and thereby get my automatic US citizenship, and buy a small shack on a beach somewhere so I was officially registered as a resident, could I then quit the job, take my papers with me, catch a plane to New York, and have jumped the Green Card queue by a full 10 years? Logic says I can. I’m going to try it. Don’t let anyone in Mexico or Syria know about this ruse!

Marks for: 7.25 (the federal minimum wage in the USA, or the cost, after tax, of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal chez Ronald Macdonald

Marks against: 53,855 (the number of people exempt from minimum wage on CNMI)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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