Friday, February 24, 2006

DUBIOUS SAFETY NETS

When any of us lends money, it’s not wrong for us to expect it back. Money is hard to come by; we work for it with our blood, sweat and tears. Whether it’s lending to a family member, friend or stranger, we strongly consider whether that person is trustworthy enough to pay us back. Indicators of trustworthiness include the prospective borrower’s reputation and ability to repay. When it essentially comes down to our own money, we all look at credit ratings, pending debts and income levels in one fashion or another. Why expect commercial banks to act any differently?

Of course, commercial banks may not intentionally pursue the objectives of DBAS’s “economic and social mission.” Neither do storeowners, restaurants, the tuna canneries, Manu’atele or other enterprises. They seek to create profits by lowering costs and increasing revenues. Yet, as if by an invisible hand, they promote economic and social gains through the pursuit of their own self-interests.

If it makes any sense to replace micro-loans by commercial banks with federal programs, then it also stands that we should replace every private store, restaurant, cannery and ocean transport with a government one in the name of pursuing an “economic and social mission”. Unfortunately, they will all go the way of the Rainmaker Hotel and the Fono building – just to name a few of the great many things government screws up on a daily basis.

Banking is just another service in the nexus of our economy that comes at a price like everything else. But what about the poor, the unfortunate and the needy? Like the rest of us, they need to work. If not, they need to ask to receive as we pride ourselves in being a charitable people.

I don’t think it’s a sin to have “very low incomes.” But I do think it’s a sin to make me pay for someone else’s low income. God gave me my natural rights to my life, my property and my liberty. The poor and exploiting politicians do not have a higher prerogative to what is mine.

Since Mr. Malae states that “bad credit can result from a medical catastrophe in the family that eats up one's entire net worth”, I challenge the DBAS to provide us with some statistics. How many of their applicants’ “bad credit” result from tragic circumstances such as a medical crisis? What constitutes the majority of pending debts facing most DBAS applicants? Are they due to bingo, alcohol, or a SUV?

We need to encourage the growth of our commercial banks, because the DBAS “happens to be the conduit for… [federal] programs.” When the mainland taxpayer cannot pick up our bills, the last thing we need is another $8.5 million redistribution scheme.

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