902? Call 911. Someone stole the senator’s brain

By Mabel Doge Luhan

Hey, Jude!

In the October 26th Marianas Variety article (and I use that term loosely!) “Senate adopts joint resolution calling for 902 talks,” you were quoted as citing “the exorbitant cost of fuel” as a reason for 902 talks.

You must not know much about the cost of fuel. See the chart for a graph of oil prices over the past twenty-five years, and that’s not inflation-adjusted. Without adjustment for inflation, we’re about where we’ve always been on the price of oil, and inflation-adjusted, fuel is actually pretty cheap now. The Variety’s “reporter” is too busy with Important Reporter Things to fact-check your claim about fuel prices (which takes about fifteen seconds), so I’ll do it for him. Chagi Mabel, Prim.

Expensive airfares? To Idaho, yes, because of cabotage laws and United’s monopoly. From Asia, though, our airfares are expensive for a very specific reason: not much traffic. Especially no business traffic, which usually subsidizes the cost of tourist airfares. On a typical flight to, say, Honolulu or Guam, the business travelers in business class are the moneymakers; the vacationers in economy class are just the bonus dollars. We don’t have any business travelers, because we don’t have any business, so airlines have to make their money from the economy-class travelers. That and because of the lack of traveler interest and traffic, there’s not much incentive for more flights and more competition.

Contrary to what everyone in the CNMI government and MVA says, our lack of tourists isn’t caused by the lack of “airline seats.” The lack of airline seats is caused by the lack of traveler interest. Airlines, unlike the CNMI government, act dynamically in response to the market, and if people were willing to buy tickets to Saipan, the airlines would run flights. So begging for or subsidizing “more seats” is useless. It’s like getting more parking spaces for a business nobody wants to go to in the first place.

And “a lot of the issues that we have before us here in the CNMI” — gee, thanks for the insight. How about being honest: the previous administration robbed us blind, and now, despite our usual consequences-free mindset, we have to deal with the consequences?

Yes, we can ask the Feds for a bailout, as we always do. But this has nothing to do with “global issues that have been affecting the CNMI,” other than the “global issue” of all our public funds having been misappropriated, and of nobody wanting to travel to an island where hotel rooms, taxis, and a bottle of water at the airport cost more than in Honolulu — but with none of Honolulu’s amenities, infrastructure, or brand power.

902? Chagi 911.


Mabel Doge Luhan is a rootless cosmopolitan and a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


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