Thursday, May 1, 2008

Movies, Power, Federalization and Pew

(My Saipan Tribune column for this week.)

Well, it’s been a newsworthy couple of weeks. The closing of Hollywood Theaters has definitely put a damper on spirits, even for those who never went to the movies. Its presence made us feel like a part of the “civilized” world. I was in Guam earlier this week, and when people asked me “How are things on Saipan,” the best way to sum it up was to say, “Our only movie theater just closed.” People immediately understood, and shook their heads in disbelief. Yes, things are bad, and “consumer confidence” is dwindling.

People would ask me what I think needed to be done to improve things, and really, I don’t think there is an easy solution. Certainly, we need a reliable utility. But we don’t control the price of oil, and it’s predicted to climb from its current level around $100 a barrel, up to $200 a barrel within the next year or two. Repairing the power plant can give us reliability, but it might not prevent the cost of power doubling. How can we cope with that? Alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power are simply not cost effective, however, they may become so as the price of oil rises.

Certainly another area that still needs improvement is government waste. We’d have more money available for various public services if waste wasn’t present. And honestly, much of that waste is related to power. Anytime I visit a government office, I take a jacket with me, because I know I’m going to be cold. It’s still beyond me why we don’t just adjust the thermostats around here.

A couple of years ago at the energy symposium that was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, one of the presenters told the story of a utility in California that was meeting increasing demand for power and was faced with building a new power plant. They analyzed the situation and realized that it would be more cost effective for them to hand out free energy saving light bulbs so that every home and business would convert to the compact fluorescent technology. It cost the utility money to give away the bulbs, but it saved them the expense of building a new plant. Just an idea that might help address a piece of our current problem. But honestly, there is no silver bullet.

Tourism is generally holding steady, but it’s clear that with rising travel costs, we cannot expect to see a significant rise in the coming months. There are no new industries, and we’re scratching our heads wondering how we can stimulate the economy, attract investors, create jobs. But we’re not alone. I take some consolation that at least the entire globe is flirting with recession.

And of course there is federalization. Whether you were for it or against it, it’s now a done deal, and though it’s certain that it’s going to happen, we don’t know what it’s impact will be. There will be things that some of us like about it, and things that we dislike. It will require the passage of time to sort it all out.

A ray of hope that was on the horizon was the proposed “Sanctuary at Sea”. Forget about all the arguments about more jobs, more tourists, and more federal money. Certainly those are beneficial outcomes. But for every good thing, someone else can give evidence of some possible bad outcome. Arguments at that level of “what can we get out of it” can go on forever. I felt that the monument was simply the opportunity, perhaps never to come our way again, for us to have the privilege of giving a gift to the world. The practicalities will work themselves out, if the desire is there. Let’s set our gaze outward, and into the future, and think of this as a gift worth giving to humanity. “Why should I? Maybe there are diamonds there for me! Maybe there are fish there for me!” Maybe. Yet, maybe, we can rise above these “me” centered concerns and think of leaving a legacy. Maybe centuries from now, we will be remembered in human history for our foresight and generosity in preserving a piece of the planet that increasing population pressures will threaten. The “Monument at Sea” is an opportunity for us to leave a positive mark, to create a positive image. And for people that care about being respected, that’s worth more than diamonds. It’s an opportunity for us to live up to our heritage as people of the land, people of the sea, people of the planet for whom we’ll serve as trustees. The monument is a small ray of hope that doesn’t solve all the problems we face, but it is something that lifts the spirit. And I have a feeling that with the myriad challenges sure to mount, it will be our spirits that guide the way.

___________________________________________________________________

David Khorram, MD is a board certified ophthalmologist and director of Marianas Eye Institute and the author of the book, World Peace, a Blind Wife, and Gecko Tails. Comments and questions are welcome. Call 235-9090 or email him through www.MarianasEye.com, or leave comments at www.MarianasEye.blogspot.com. Copyright © 2008 David Khorram

4 comments:

Tamara said...

I couldn't agree with you more on your National Park of the Sea comment!!!and the others for that matter : )

Anna said...

Que sorte! Viver num local tão belo!

金太郎 said...

まさか家のエレベーターでフ ェ ラされるなんて思ってなかったよ。。ww
「ここでフ ェ ラさせてくれたらもっと報 酬あげるよ♪」
って言葉に負けましたwww
途中で扉が開いた時は焦ったけど、おかげでもっとオッキしたwww
http://pak3.net/yutori/

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