Sunday, January 23, 2005

Puni gets it Right

In last week Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing for cabinet nominee’s Puni P. Sewell’s appointment to the Department of Human Resources (DHR), the appointee had to respond to Senate President Lolo M. Moliga’s inquiry about “people who want jobs in government?” Puni explained that there were no job vacancies, but that the department is seeking employment for the applicants in the private sector. In responding further to the senator’s inquiry, he stated that this function being carried out by the DHR “is not good for government, because it is not an employment agency.” He could not be more correct.

Puni’s statement is contrary to the mainstream belief that the government has the duty, responsibility, and capability to seek employment for or even employ all those who apply for government positions. Several letters to the editor in Samoa News expressed this view by demanding that the ASG create jobs for graduates of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC). Even the keynote speaker for the ASCC Fall Graduation, Jean Anderson-Asuega, implied that it is the government’s responsibility to “open opportunities for them.”

The president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Lawrence Reed, said, “Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody.” What many people are proposing when they ask the government to provide more jobs is to either increase taxes or increase the territory’s debt by borrowing more money, which – you guessed it – additional taxes will have to repay.

Puni also testified, “Most didn't want to work for private companies. They want to gain employment with government and that is a fact.” Who could blame them? Government positions are more secure than jobs in the private sector because businesses can not force their customers to buy their services. If a majority in Fono feels that the ASG needs to employ workers to dig holes only for the workers to fill them up again, guess what, you're going to pay for it.

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