Saturday, April 01, 2006


Do you want to know how to make a poor argument? All you have to do is rely on conspiracy theories, unsubstantiated claims and outdated rhetoric. This is how we should sum up Common Cause’s latest column on our one-size-fits-all immigration policies here in American Samoa.

Population increases are not necessarily a bad thing. More people mean more customers to serve. More people mean more food, clothes, shoes, cable, newspapers to sell. Even Hawaiian Airlines would provide more flights for a growing Pago Pago–Honolulu market. Businesses see more people as an opportunity while the government treats more people as a threat.

When our government successfully stemmed the flow of our immigrant brothers and sisters from Independent Samoa, one of our local airline companies ceased operations. The company knew it couldn’t make any money because the ASG slammed the door on its customers. We lost jobs and income into our territory and continue to suffer such to this day. Thank you Mr. Politician, thank you.

If anything, immigrants are politicians’ scapegoats rather than their business partners or friends. The administration, the Fono and the High Court have blamed everything under the sun on illegal immigration. To suggest that immigrants have the upper hand here with the ASG is to be blatantly ignorant of the facts.

If anything, we should be thankful for the waves upon waves of foreigners into our great territory for two reasons. First, the influx has brought future problems to the forefront. American Samoa would have eventually reached today’s population someday even without immigration, and we would still have to confront and address the limits of government welfare.

Eventually, we would have to become self-reliant. Eventually, we’ll have to pay for what we receive. Eventually, we would have to ask ourselves whether we should pay for our own education, medical services, public works, broadcasting, telecommunications, shipping and loans. Will we reform our government to achieve self-reliance from a position of relative strength or from a position of weakness very likely in our future? We need to reject welfare and not leave this mess to our children.

Second, we should thank our immigrants (both legal and illegal) and their sponsors for helping to keep our canneries here. Our world is converging into one global market to the world’s benefit whether we like it or not. The tuna industry and cheap laborers (who are willing to do the work) will seek one another out and find each other. Now, would we rather have both parties meet each other here in American Samoa or force them to meet in Thailand, Central/South America or the Philippines?

We need to make our permanent guests a part of our culture and heritage. They need to participate in the Fa’asamoa, not be isolated or segregated from it. Village councils should one day look at granting matai titles to foreigners who buy property within their respective boundaries.

Nonetheless, the most important question of our immigration policies is this:

Who gets to decide who lives on our family lands: the ASG/Common Cause or our families?


At 12:57 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

That is a very excellent commentary, Tali, as usual. ;-)

I believe that there are so many anti-laissez-faire counterarguments against your piece, I do not know where to begin.

First of all, let us begin with everyone's favorite -- overpopulation. Environmentalist Garrett Hardin coined the term "tragedy of the commons" for the precise purpose of arguing for population control. He saw the need for the federal government to pass regulations that shifted the reproductive behaviors of Americans, as well as limits on both legal and illegal immigration.

Garett Hardin came up with "the tragedy of the commons" because he saw the United States, as a whole, as public property -- a "commons." Then selfish, private interests -- which are immigrants and newborn infants -- deluge the borders, eat up its bounty like locusts, and do not care to preserve this public property for everyone else. And so, just as publicly-owned forests and grazing land and oceans are degraded, so too will be the entire publicly-owned continent.

Many critics will tell you that they do not buy into your argument that the population increase proves the need to become more economically self-sufficient and to stop relying so much on federal dollars from the continential United States. The critics say that the United States itself showcases the problem -- the U.S. does not financially rely on federal dollars from some larger imperial power, and yet even the continental U.S. population boom is unsustainable.

The critics are, at this very second, screaming about a Mexican "invasion" of the U.S. states across the U.S.-Mexican border. They tell you that illegal, undocumented aliens are locusts that are swarming into our fertile lands to devour all of "our" resources. Did you know that at least 1 out of every 25 people in Texas is an illegal alien?

So the critics can say that the "overpopulation from illegal aliens" making life unsustainable on the far-wealthier continental U.S. proves the necessity for American Samoa to enact immigration and population controls.

You say that the population of American Samoa would have increased to X amount anyway without all this immigration, and that immigration is pushing the population up to X amount at a much faster rate. The anti-immigrationists claim that this is exactly the problem. If, by the year 2020 A.D., you could have expected American Samoa's population to increase to X amount, then, by then, the country's "carrying capacity" already would have been exacerbated. "Carrying capacity" is the environmentalists' term for the number of people whose lives can be sustained on a given square quantity of land.

When the land's carrying capacity is exceeded, say the environmentalists, then you will see a Malthusian breakdown of society in which the insufficient amount of food and resources per person leads to faminies, civil war, and Social Darwinian civil strife.

And if American Samoa's popualtion reaching X amount by 2020 would already lead to such "unsustainability," then immigration pushing the population up to X amount much sooner means that Environmental Doomsday -- our Great Reckoning -- will come even sooner.

Secondly, the anti-immigrationists say that immigrants taking government benefits would strip everyone of resources even without Great Society welfare programs like Aid to Families With Dependent Children. Anti-immigrationists like Steven Greenhut say that, even without welfare, native-born Californians have to pay tax dollars to support immigrant children in already-overcrowded government schools, to pay for the immigrants' socialized healthcare, etc. And you remember that bald, lazy-eyed fellow at Hawaii Pacific University who complained that there are already too many traffic jams in California, and allowing more Mexicans into the state would make the traffic even worse.

For people to see through the anti-immigrationists' rhetoric, the following talking points of anti-immigrationists need to be challenged openly:

* Population control is necessary to avert a Malthusian economic doomsday.

* Allowing immigrants into a country leads to the depletion of tax dollars to finance government services.

* Immigrants have sinister motives. They are more loyal to the country they are from than the one they are moving to, and they are moving to their new home country in order to undermine its society. They will harm the culture of their new society.

* Illegal immigrants come to a country to debauch it with violent crime.

* Immigrants destroy the economy in their "race to the bottom."

All of those accusations need to be refuted for people to develop an open mind on the subject, let alone an open border.

Please keep up the talifantastic work, bro! :-)

At 7:08 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

Do you have a reply to the statist accusations about overpopulation, "carrying capacity," and immigrants supposedly increasing crime?

When the statists' accusations go unanswered by the free-marketer, many readers often assume that it is because the free-marketer is stumped as a result of the statist argument having proved the free-marketer wrong.

That's unfair, but, sadly, that's how political junkies are. :'-(


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