Corporate welfare gravy and the government-paid travel continues in crisis

Oh my! This April is starting with a bang! Not only are there IPI lawsuits flying left and right, not only are the Congressional Delegate candidates maneuvering for initial position, not only is the Marianas Variety drenching free advertising on our next Carter Widmor newcomer, but “Marianas promoted at Seoul Flower Festival,” according to the reliable MVA press release that was in the April 4th Variety.

The article says not once but twice that there were “approximately 5,000,000 million” visitors to the festival! That’s 5 trillion people! I haven’t seen such a crowd since a meth truck overturned in front of the Legislature Building! Why, 5 trillion is six hundred times the world’s population!

I can certainly believe that every human visited the Seoul Flower Festival six hundred times. After all, it’s the same Malaysian Vacation Association, oops, Marianas Visitors Authority that claims to have the best advertising followthrough rates in the history of the advertising business. And it’s the same dish rag, oops I mean Marians Variety, that shares my enthusiasm for science fiction. If only they actually proofread these propaganda pieces before printing them!

But let’s get back to the flower festival! “This amazing festival under the cherry blossoms in downtown Seoul,” Chris tells us. Is this a little bit like “This amazing end-of-the-year seminar in a lobster restaurant,” or “This amazing Malaysian tourism convention on a tropical island that isn’t Saipan”?

“The Marianas was the only travel destination promoted,” you say. Isn’t that interesting! It must mean that the tourism bosses in Hawaii, Tokyo, Las Vegas, and so on are not as smart as Chris Concepcion, right? Or the other way around.

But everybody loves cherry blossoms! While we already have a fully staffed MVA office in Korea, Chris and who knows how many of his MVA colleagues just had to travel to Seoul to sit at a picnic table and make mwars! Any professional marketing agency would have hired some interns or students to sit behind this kind of table — or at least some of the Seoul staff whose salaries and offices we pay for — but MVA just had to fly in the Saipan staff. By the by, it’s very likely a violation of Korean labor law for non-Korean-citizens to be working like this.

Flying the CNMI staff to Korea to work illegally and make mwars is a great use not just of your travel budget, but of your salary. Reminder: these MVA folks are literally collecting a CNMI government salary for sitting behind a picnic table and making mwars. Not to mention the per diems! And the airfare. And hotels. And FRESH LOBSTER perhaps? But what does MVA care? We’re paying for their vacation!

And what else are we paying for? Oh right, we’re paying for government-supplied marketing services for some (only some!) select private businesses. Eight “hotel and resorts” — can we at least please get plural nouns for what we’re paying you, Chris? — were promoted at the booth. As for the smaller, less connected lodging establishments in the CNMI? They can kick dirt, of course. They should be used to it by now. The corporate welfare gravy train isn’t for all businesses. Just the connected ones.

Has anyone estimated how much benefit to the CNMI we expect from this trip? If let’s say our goal is increased BGRT collections, how much would the additional tourists (that would not have come had they not met Chris & co.) have to spend in the CNMI in order for just the associated BGRT collections to equal what we spent, i.e. for this to be a break-even deal?

Assuming even the highest BGRT rate, which is 5%, if we spent $20K (a low estimate, in my opinion) on this trip, those additional tourists that would not have come had they not met Chris & Co would need to spend $400K in the CNMI, on CNMI-taxed businesses, to just make this a break-even. Can Chris Concepcion make that claim with a, um, straight face?


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


  • 1. Yes. I like this. It’s “In-Your-Face” Right-Cross to the face. I wrote a little comment on MVariety today similar to this, questioning expense-to-income parity. Good article.

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