Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The biggest price gouger in American Samoa is the ASG. The taxes mainland Americans and locals pay is the price the ASG charges the people. Mainland Americans have already started to refuse to pay ASG’s high prices leaving the burden to us. The question we should now be asking is not where are we going to find the money to pay for these high prices. It’s why should the ASG be so damn expensive in the first place?

Can we do without the 100% increase in Fono allowances? Can we do without the Segaula or the MV Sili when there are plenty of competitors servicing the Manu’a islands today? Should we continue to bear the burden of money losing assets like the Rainmaker Hotel and the Golf Course? Do we really need to pay for such a large government workforce when more money goes towards payroll rather than actual services to the people?

The island kingdom of Tonga is leading the way in making their government cheaper to its citizens. Unlike American Samoa, the Tongans don’t expect Uncle Sam to come bail them out and to hand out welfare. They’re facing the hard political choices and lowering the price of government on their own.

They’ve reduced with some success the size of the government workforce. Now they’re trying to sell its shares of its government bank, its phone company, the Post Office and the Tonga Chronicle newspaper. We can do the same.

Where is our politicians’ tough rhetoric and moral indignation when it comes to high price of our own fat government? Where are the Governor and the Senate President when it comes to grabbing the headlines against price gouging and the over-charging by the government of its own people?

We need cheaper government. We can achieve it and should demand it now.


At 11:59 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:04 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

Hey, call me on the Taliphone,

You write, "The biggest price gouger in American Samoa is the ASG. The taxes mainland Americans and locals pay is the price the ASG charges the people. ... We need cheaper government. We can achieve it and should demand it now."

However, most people in the United States say that private companies "overcharging" customers is undeniably worse than the government overcharging taxpayers.

Why is that? Because most people judge people according to their stated motives rather than by the actual nature of their conduct.

Note that Mao Tse-tung killed even more people than Hitler did. Yet Mao is seldom regarded with the same level of abhorrence. Some years ago, the UH-Manoa Revolution Books Store (heavily patronized by UH-Manoa) sold T-shirts with Mao's face on them. Do you think people would be as tolerant of shirts with Hitler's visage?

Why does Mao still have a relatively positive reputation? Because of motives. Hitler murdered people for elitist reasons for his own benefit. Mao murdered people in the name of communism, which is considered a moral ideal because it is unselfish.

In short, people will make many excuses for an atrocity -- including murder or theft -- if its performed for unselfish purposes.

Private for-profit companies are created primarily to benefit their private owners. The government, meanwhile, is created for the purpose of helping "all of us."

When private entrepreneurs overcharge us, they do so for their own selfish gratification. When the government overtaxes us, it does so for the sake of benefiting everybody to provide public goods like fire protection and roads.

Also recall that the government collective is supposed to represent everyone; private companies only represent their individual shareholders.

When private companies "price-gouge," it only benefits them. When the government, in your words, "price-gouges" us, it is still on behalf of us.

That is the psychological difference. We don't side with "them"; we side with "us."

I believe that people will become more enlightened about this when they first realize:

(1) The government is not "us" and it doesn't "represent us all"; it only represents the will of those in power.

(2) There is no collective "us". As Margaret Thatcher understood, " 'Society' does not exist. There are only individuals" who independently choose if and when they will interact with one another.

(3) People should not be judged primarily by motives, but the manner in which they conduct themselves while seeking their goals. Thus, no unselfish intention can ever justify an immoral act of brutality like extortion.


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