The more things change, the more they stay the same

An excerpt – as timely as ever – from page 484 of David Stanley’s 1982 volume South Pacific Handbook, 2nd Edition:

Up to now, Guam has lived on federal government handouts, but Washington is urging the island government to be less dependent and to stand on its own feet. They are attempting to do this by limiting govt. deficits, while encouraging business, tourism, and trade. Financial instability has meant that much of the money obtained from the 6 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and 10% hotel room tax, meant to bring in revenue to use to improve facilities for visitors, has instead found its way into the general fund and is used to pay for normal govt. operations.  Unrealistic U.S. regulations such as the Jones Act, which requires that all goods shipped through Guam be carried on U.S. ships, make the island vulnerable to labor disputes thousands of kms away and add about US$10 million to Guam’s annual fuel bill. Almost all of Guam’s food is imported. The rich volcanic soils lie fallow due to the large military reservations (35% of the surface area of the island); the local government holds a further fifth to a third of the land, also very poorly utilized.