Why The Feudal Lords Of The CNMI Want To Keep Article 12
Article 12 in the CNMI. Taking out the fancy language it allows for only people of NMI decent to own land in the NMI. To own land you need to be at least 25% NMD decent. There are several ways to get around this, mainly through adoption, which automatically makes you 100% NMI.
As people inter-marry the "blood quantum" has been diluted to below 25% (this is happening now to many families) so sons and daughters may not inherit their parents land. What actually does happen to land is still a bit fuzzy.
That aside, Article 12 was probably a good thing when it came about 25 years ago. If land could be sold to anyone the Japanese would probably bought off nearly every acre of this island in the early 90's. They could only lease land, and have leased much over the years. The old story of landowners becoming millionaires overnight only to be on food stamps ten years later is a tale told often. They still own the land and can get it back in...probably 30-35 years. People of simple means earned the big money by merely signing their name. Wealth created without "Sweat or Brain Equity".
Even proponents of continuing Article 12 can see the economic advantages making land available for sale to anyone. The list of benefits is too long and not worth re-hashing here. Repealing Article 12 does not force anyone to sell their land, it just gives them a wide choice of buyers if they wish to do so. Currently, they can only sell their land to another person of NMI decent. The main reason given by proponents of keeping Article 12 is that the culture of the island will be negatively affected if anyone can buy land. I actually heard one on the leading proponents of the Article 12 say that it was okay if one local were to buy land (cheap) from another local because it would "still be in the Saipan (CNMI) family".
The proponents of Article 12 have wrapped their arguments in " the loss of culture" and "people losing their lands forever". The loss of culture is rather subjective and the land loss would have happened anyway, just to another NMD and for probably much less money.
What has developed in the CNMI, and what Article 12 has pushed along and encouraged, is a class system based on land ownership. This is not a new situation. Feudal Lords vs. Serfs, Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat. You now have the wealthy land-rich NMD families pitted against the disadvantaged NMD that might have one small homestead lot. Indeed, many NMD rent and have no land. For the many NMD that have a small homestead lot, it's not the Japanese that are taking advantage, but their own neighbors, or as stated earlier "part of the Saipan family". Many situations arise where a person with a little land needs a lot of money. With such a small pool of eligible and able buyers it's just a matter of time until most, if not all, of the land will be in the hands of a few people, or families. The Feudal Lords of the CNMI.
On another level Article 12 discriminates not only against fellow American Citizens that want to buy land, but to the local NMD that would like to sell their land at a higher price. What you are saying to the disadvantaged class is "There are only a few people you can sell to. Pick which buyer and don't worry about the low price you get. Remember, it's the law". I cannot think of anything more discriminatory to a local NMD than this.
With the repeal of Article 12 any local NMD with land can choose to sell their land ,or not sell their land, to anyone they wish. They can hand their land down to their children. They can sell it cheaply to another NMD if they wish to keep it in the NMD family, or they can sell it to the highest bidder, which might also be an NMD. The Feudal Lords of the CNMI will get richer, but not by paying bottom dollar to their neighbors. Either way, it's the owner's land...and it should be their choice.