Friday, April 08, 2005

A Hero in the ASG

The people of American Samoa should praise Senator Fai’ivae Galea’i for his brave and straightforward letter to the Editor in the Samoa News dated 4/8/2005. I wished I had tried a similar approach in explaining how the free market will not only solve, but also improve conditions at the LBJ. I hope – no, I pray that the senator and readers alike can imagine how the principles he explained can apply to other welfare functions like education.

Mr. Galea’i bases his proposal on the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Governments around the world, to include the U.S., continually try to bend this law of nature, and they find out the hard way that this law simply cannot be broken. In the end, someone has to pay the piper; in the LBJ fiasco, the American taxpayer foots the bill. How long can we afford to rely on federal grants to rescue us from ourselves time and time again? You can read Dr. Harold Luntey’s letter to the Editor, dated 4/8/2005 as well, to get an idea.

Medical self-reliance will require more than just contracting our healthcare out to “a big professional management company” like the senator suggests. It will require a complete hands-off policy by the ASG of the whole industry. The ASG should not subsidize the management company, protect it from competition, or micromanage it with legislation. The only role the ASG should play is forcing responsible healthcare providers to compensate its victims of malpractice based on reasonable evidence if such incidents occur. The courts alone should have sufficient powers to carry out this role.

Medical self-reliance will mean that each American Samoan citizen will be liable for the costs of healthcare provided for her or his own person. And at first, that price is going to be high during reform. However, if the ASG keeps its hands off in the manner I described above then prices over time will become affordable for most people. The minority who cannot afford healthcare, the reason why welfare is created in the first place, will be small in number over the long run. That is because when there is no welfare people are empowered much in same way Senator Galea’i describes in his letter. Please read his letter. People are also forced to realize that help is not a right, but a gift and privilege. Charity will make that even clearer, and that will motivate people to find a way to pay their share of the load.

Reform of government in this manner will change it into a customer server. Instead of being served by someone who knows he or she will be paid, regardless if you are taken cared of properly or not, you will be served by someone who wants to help you because profit requires your satisfaction. Issues such as whether the public has enough resources will become irrelevant, because we will all know that what one person receives is what that one person has paid for.

When we privatize government functions, miracles happen. Before 1984, New Zealand was just like us. Their government subsidized everything from mass transportation (e.g. trains) to the media to farmers. Then they went bankrupt and turned to the IMF and Australia for monetary assistance much in the same way the ASG is now turning to the DOI. The loans did not help. They only deepened the problems. In 1984, the Labour Party swept into office on platform of real reform. They turned down further IMF assistance, cut the subsidies across the board, cut taxes and import tariffs and privatized national assets like their rail system. New Zealand came out of its financial pit and is now very prosperous today.

We may have a glimpse of such reform and prosperity with a hero like Senator Fai’ivae Galea’i in the ASG today.

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