Saturday, May 13, 2006

American Samoa Can Be Good For Business

I applaud Governor Togiola’s efforts to 1) make up for our government’s grave mistake in turning down fibre optic cable and 2) invite businesspeople to help diversify our economy. What can the rest of us do to help the ASG achieve a bright economic future for American Samoa?

1. Don’t listen to those who say businesses will take advantage our low minimum wage laws. A low paying job is better than no job at all. If someone doesn’t like the pay then he/she should find something else to do or start their own business.

2. Don’t treat businesses like an ATM. They’re here to provide a service that we want or need for a price. They’re not here to pay for our education, a veterans’ memorial, a new KVZK-TV antenna or medical care. We shouldn’t scare businesses away with redistributive taxes.

3. Respect businesses' property rights. Potential business investors look at our price-gouging law and see that in a time of emergency, he/she can expect to go court over prices on the goods he/she plans to bring here. High prices reflect supply shortages not greed, and we shouldn’t punish businesses for that.

4. Improve our education system by opening it up to competition. Businesses need employees with the basic tools. However, our schools continue to fail to teach our children Samoan, English and Math. A voucher system that attaches public funds to students will force our schools (both public and private) to compete with each other for those funds by catering to students and their parents. Students and parents want quality education that delivers on the results.

5. Encourage our politicians to treat business like the real people they are. Our officials have been too easy with rhetoric that blames businesses for everything.

Whether it’s low prices, high prices, the same prices, fattening our people to death, a conspiracy to take over our lands or poison our bottled water supply, businesses are the scapegoats. Yet without the gas station owner, there would be no high priced gas to buy. Without the tuna canneries, there would be no low paying jobs to work. Without a McDonalds, there would be no Big Mac to enjoy with the family.

Once we change our philosophy about business and make it a part of our lives and culture, only then would American Samoa be a good place to do business.


At 10:31 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

Tali, you advise to Amerian Samoa's government, "2. Don't treat businesses like an ATM. They're here to provide a service that we want or need for a price. They're not here to pay for our education, a veterans' memorial, a new KVZK-TV antenna or medical care."

Many people would beg to differ with you on that. They say that a business should only be allowed to exist if it "serves the community" because, as Hawaii's State House Speaker Calvin Say puts it, "Your service to others is the rent you pay for living."

In other words, in that collectivist view, you wouldn't deserve to live or have any rights if you were a hermit who lived away from everyone else.

At 10:35 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

cont'd: Multimillionaire Andrew Carnegie, who circa 1911 was the world's richest man, said that no person owns his or her own fortune, no private company is ultimately private. He said that when a billionaire accumulates so much money, his entire fortune is really a "public trust" that ultimately belongs to all of of society.

Why, then, didn't he just let everybody take his money then? He said that multimillionaires like him were better money-managers than everyone else, so his being a multimillionaire made him a "trustee" to ensure that all of "public money" he had access to (in his own bank account, mind you) was spent on only wise uses.

Thus, Carnegie said, the fact that he kept so much of his money in his own bank account did not contradict his belief that all people's money is public property.

At 10:36 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

cont'd: The same argument can be used when it comes to government treatment of businesses -- the statist can say that a business's assets is really public property, but that the reason why the State lets private entrepreneurs manage it is that the private entrepreneurs are better money-managers than other people, thereby making them "trustees" for "the public's money."

In that interpretation, American Samoa's government can say it has every moral right to tax businesses as it pleases.

How do you answer that?

At 10:41 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

In fact, it's a concept like the one that you presented that gave rise to the saying "laissez faire," as Turgot -- friend of Thomas Jefferson and finance minister to the ill-fated King Louis XVI -- explained.

King Louis XIV wanted to increase tax revenues so his treasury would have more money to finance his wars. So he had his own mercantilist finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, call a meeting of all of France's greatest industrialists.

Colbert said that he wanted businesses to make even greater profits, since this would increase tax revenues. And so he said he wanted the government to subsidize industries as efficiently as possible. And he asked everyone present what the government could do to help businesses.

An industrialist named Thomas Le Gendre called out, "Laissez-nous faire!" That means, "Let us alone!" By that, he meant government shouldn't subsidize business at all.

That's where "laissez faire" comes from.


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