Jobs and the Economy: It?s Only Going to Get Worse

Communion in Guam. (Photo by Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat)

What?s the possibility that small island societies like FSM and the Marshalls can grow their economy enough to make their countries self-supporting? That?s a question that many of us have been debating for years. It?s a question that haunts the leaders of these countries as they move closer to the end of the Compact funding in 2023.

At the risk of self-promotion?-since I?m quoted in this piece?-let me offer a link to the sixth segment in a seven-part series on Micronesia offered by Civil Beat in Hawaii. (While you?re at it, I?d suggest you check out the previous segments as well.) Chad Blair, the mastermind of the project, devoted nearly a year to this project. The purpose of it was to introduce Micronesia to the rest of the United States, beginning with Hawaii, and to show the problems it faces as it prepares to release its economic lifelines with the US.

Just for the record, I have never argued that FSM and RMI have used all their Compact funds from the US as wisely as they might have. But even if they had, I?m not sure how much closer they would be to a self-reliant economy today. But read on….

In 2023, COFA trust funds ? which the U.S. established in 2003?and which the COFA nations themselves make?contributions to ? are supposed to supplant U.S. direct aid. But the funds took a hit during the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, and current projections are that they will be woefully short by 2023. ?-Chad Blair, “Jobs And The Economy: It?s Only Going To Get Worse”

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.