Michael San Nicolas, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year on a platform of change, chimed in twice on a Kandit discourse about the reasons (what is believed to be) thousands of Guamanians have left Guam. As previously reported, the vast majority of respondents to the question Kandit posed two weeks ago – ‘Why did you leave Guam?’ – essentially gave the same response:
‘I love Guam. Guam is my home. But I just can’t afford to live there anymore.’
The former congressman, who in last year’s campaign warned many of these economic woes would materialize because of the running out of federal pandemic aid, wrote two separate posts on Facebook concerning the issue. The first was as a comment to the original Kandit post, ‘Why did you leave Guam?’
Here is that full comment:
Reading all these makes me sad.
These reasons for leaving too are mostly reasons that would have otherwise compelled change to make things better here…but these are also voters and their families that have left, which are votes for change that have left.
And that is the cycle that is killing Guam and really dooms her future.
Anyone who fights for the island is driven out, silenced, or targeted, and those who feel strongly that things should be better leave because they need to survive or their family’s future is better off.
All that’s left thriving are the ones benefiting from the corruption. They don’t worry about broken schools because they don’t send their kids there. They aren’t bothered by bad infrastructure because they have homes and can afford $10,000 generators, the gas for it and for their cars, and groceries or eating out.
It’s quite likely so many more would leave but they’re stuck under current debt or not enough money to afford to move (or to really be able to ever save up for it either).
The system is the way it is because it works for those who like it this way, and they are able to control things and people just enough to keep things this way. Anyone who wants to change it will get pounded down or realize it’s easier to just leave.
And More will be leaving.
You can’t afford to live here long term if you don’t already own your own house. Even if you are a homeowner here your kids wont be able to afford to buy their own when they grow up. There is no dynamic economic initiatives underway here to create new high paying jobs that people can level up into. And the public infrastructure is so old and collapsing while revenues are politically squandered, there isn’t going to be enough money to fix things the way they need to be without major tax increases or federal receiverships that will raise taxes and fees anyway.
So so sad for Guam. But we did it to ourselves; the last election taught the politicians they really dont need to worry about realities the people are facing or the consequences of it, and now all that’s left is to listen to sad stories like these.
The second write up by Mr. San Nicolas was a reflection he posted Wednesday on his Facebook profile after he landed in Qatar. Here is that full post:
One of the great benefits of traveling is seeing what the world has to offer relative to home, and getting a firm idea of how sensible seemingly good ideas or good intentions can be relative to what is really out there.
In my 5 hour layover in Doha, Qatar, after spending a day in Makati, Philippines, it really is jarring when considering the realities we face at home on Guam.
The Philippines is supposedly a 3rd world country. Maybe “2nd world” is much more appropriate these days. Still, at least in the greater Makati area it is so far ahead of us on Guam as far as infrastructure, service availability and consistency, ambiance, and options/selections available to visitors. Their bathrooms are cleaner. Their prices lower while experiences superior.
Then we have Doha, Qatar, massively wealthy oil producing nation with an airport that feels like you’re in outer space, 50 foot vaulted ceilings, over 10,000 square feet in business class lounge (first class has its own and I didn’t even get to see it), multiple eating stations, showers and restrooms like 5 star hotels, family rooms, game rooms, leather seating, and a general look and feel that is like the tsubaki buffet but 100 times bigger.
And that’s just one lounge.
The entire facility isn’t remotely comparable to our Guam International Airport – and that is supposed to be one of the best funded agencies in the government of Guam.
What is the takeaway from all this?
Well, the knee-jerk midoru would say “and what San Nicolas? You don’t like Guam we don’t like you either why don’t you just pack up your bags and leave.”
But after we ignore the midoru (and we always ignore the midoru ), there are several really important things to take away.
The first is that we are losing no matter how we compare. The third world country and the massive oil rich country are both outshining us as far as visitor experiences are concerned. Whatever we have been doing for the last 50 years is failing miserably to truly make us competitive – we are not competitive. Not on price. Not on experiences. Not on value. Thank God we have the best beaches and sunsets because if we were in the desert like Doha forget it.
The second is we obviously have a problem deploying our resources. A third world country has cleaner restrooms than we do. A “smart park” is a dumb idea when we can’t do the basics, much less compete with a Doha-like experience. All we are doing is setting ourselves up to fail, waste what little resources we have, and showcase nothing more than how detached from reality we are.
The third is that the “brain traps” that have kept us stagnating and chasing out-of-touch fantasies have got to go. We have wasted far too much time thumping our chests to whomever our “gayu” is or whatever “political party” we affiliate with. None of any of that has gotten us anywhere…at least nowhere significant enough for us to realistically say we have outpaced the third world or kept pace with the first.
The only thing that really remains is for us to honestly ask ourselves if we can really be honest with ourselves. With where we really stand in the world and where we are trending to stand in the years ahead.
What are we going to do about it? Or would we rather just shrink further into this scared and silent community we have become, because we’d prefer to get the same old political scraps tossed to us to visit other places rather than really make our own truly shine.
We really can’t keep pretending anymore when the contrasts and realities are so stark.
The sooner we can be honest with ourselves the sooner we can do something about it, but that would require discipline, perseverance, sacrifice, and delayed gratification.
It can be done. But it won’t be easy.
Or…we could on the other hand just accept it. And if that’s truly the course of action it would be so much better to know that too, clearly. Then we can decide whether or not to homeschool our kids, invest in solar and battery, buy steel doors with 2 deadbolts, or move. At the very least we can all stop complaining over something that will never change.
I want things to change.