Sunday, May 29, 2005

Freedom For Me But Not For You

Several letters to the SamoaNews Editor defend the McDonalds-Utulei proposal by trying to divert the public’s attention to other controversies such as illegal immigration and the immorality of the Yacht Club’s business activities. This strategy is just as shameful as most of the arguments made in opposition to the proposed lease, because they are all suggestions demanding limitations on other people’s freedoms. What this amounts to is “freedom for me but not for you” type of thinking and policymaking.

Unfortunately, many people seem to fit that mindset. Burdensome bureaucracy is great until it infringes on your liberty. Most people didn’t care that the ASG started to impose greater restrictions and controls on immigrants into the territory. But as soon as Independent Samoa enacted similar measures on US Nationals, the ASG and the public cried, “Fowl play.”

When you shut the door on someone, he or she is likely to respond in kind. All nations affected by the new ASG permit policies could impose reciprocal restrictions on American Samoa in the same manner done by Independent Samoa. Is that what we want?

If anything, we need to open doors in American Samoa, not close them. I have fond memories too of Utulei, but I have had disappointing experiences as well. The public restroom was never clean enough for use, trash and broken bottles littered the area and the ocean is not even safe for the fish to swim in. What makes the Fono think that I would let my son swim in there?

Election after election we’ve heard politicians promise cleaner government, but Mr. Clean never came to Utulei Beach. No state does a good job at running parks because resources get tied up in the political system and bureaucrats’ paychecks don’t rely on consumer satisfaction. If their pay were, then the public wouldn’t have to wait 10-15 minutes for the Attorney General’s Office to pick up the phone.

It is time to salvage property bought by and maintained with federal dollars by giving an entrepreneur rights to the property and the freedom to profit off it.

And let’s put a positive spin on all the trash for a change. See it as a sign of prosperity. Surely, the people of Ethiopia, North Korea or Somalia don’t have to worry about people discarding McDonalds boxes or anything else we take for granted everyday in America.

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