Thursday, October 05, 2006

AIR TRAVEL IS NOT A RIGHT

It was not too long ago when the Wright Brothers amidst competing inventors gave birth to the aviation industry. An industry that has saved us trillions of dollars in transportation costs. Yes, you read my estimation right. I say “trillions” because before there were planes, there were coal-powered boats, and can you imagine living in a world where we have to pay boat fares instead of airfares?

Without air transportation the costs of doing what we take for granted today would be in the “trillions” if not impossible. But everyday, HAL serves our route, and they neither ask for a “thank you”, a monument or a statue, or to set aside a holiday in their remembrance or to name some government building in their honor. They only ask to make revenues above their expenses and to go on their merry way.

Expenses such as soaring fuel costs over the last 5 years, low occupancy rates, ASG taxes on jet fuel, a deteriorating and dangerous ASG airport and an international designation have not deterred HAL from making air travel to American Samoa available. Meanwhile, such conditions have forced different airlines around the world to pull out of certain markets. Polynesian left Niue. Air New Zealand is about to leave Singapore and the same will soon be true for Japan Airlines concerning its Northern Marianas route. Go research the reasons why they chose to leave and proclaim that such impediments don’t matter.

But instead of thanking HAL for battling the above costs and still providing us with a service that allows our ill to visit market-based health providers in America, our separated families to occasionally visit one another around the world and our entrepreneurs to do business in the territory, we accuse the company of economic rape. Instead of looking at air travel as a blessing of capitalism that have made the above examples possible, many now use those examples as justification to forcibly lowering airfares. Flying is now somehow an economic birthright that should have a “reasonable” or “fair” price.

But “reasonable” and “fair” to whom? Would a $500 air ticket be “fair” to the investors who put up the capital, the management who makes the tough decisions or the employees who labor under the hot sun? Would that price be “reasonable” for all of the supporting industries of HAL? Who knows but to allow suppliers to seek the highest price for their services possible while consumers seek the lowest price or best service possible. The only objective standard for prices is the end result of free market negotiation. Anything else is arbitrary.

But our market is not completely free. It’s closed off to foreign competitors because of the type of outdated trade protection policies Faleomavaega continuously supports for America. But instead of focusing our time, money and efforts fighting to open up our market to forces that can really lower airfares, Togiola chose to fight HAL for over 2 years while Guam labored successfully to win exemption from US Cabotage laws that prohibit foreign competition. While Guam will be getting results soon enough, we’re now in front of the DOT debating this issue like a bunch of little children.

We are a US TERRITORY. That’s supposed to mean we respect and protect each other’s rights to life, liberty and property. Read Section 1 Article 2 of our Constitution. Instead our government acts more a SOVIET TERRITORY where everything from air transportation to healthcare is a right afforded at someone else's expense and the role of government is to set “fair” and “reasonable” arbitrary-up-to-Togiola prices.

2 Comments:

At 3:49 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:14 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

Hey Tali Want a Cracker,

At your suggestion, I will now play devil's advocate.

Okay, first of all, being the statists that they are, practically every single UH-Manoa professor would laugh at you when you say "before there were planes, there were coal-powered boats, and can you imagine living in a world where we have to pay boat fares instead of airfares?"

But planes do exist now, Tali. They do exist.

And because they have existed for so long, We have come to expect a certain level of quality service from them.

If we take your argument to its logical conclusion, we could say that, back in the Stone Age, people had no running water, no sanitation, and no written language.

So what? If the water supplier provides water that is full of lead toxicity or Chromium-6, thereby rendering the water unsafe for consumption, are you going to say: "Hey, we should be grateful that these pukes provide us water at all! If you don't like it, then you are free to live without drinking anything"?

At one time in human history, what we consider "modern anemities" did not exist. At one time in history, there were no houses.

So just because there were no houses at one time, should you be grateful if a landlord will charge you $10,000 per month to live in a hellhole of an apartment in which the kitchen and the restroom are the same room? A hellhole infested with bedbugs, lice, and disease-carrying rats?

You said that Public Service is Sacrifice. Well, who are the customers of business? The Public! What is business expected to do for its customers? Serve them!

Therefore, if we regard business as Public Service, and if Public Service is Sacrifice, then businesses should learn to sacrifice their own selfish markup to serve the greater good of helping the Public.

The ASG isn't passing any laws to prevent HAL from profiting. What the ASG is saying is that HAL can still make a healthy profit off the American Samoan market while reducing the unreasonably high markup that it charges.

If the markup is reduced, then HAL still profits and travelers get a more equitable deal. Why does that offend you so much?

Also, what is with invoking the name of the Wright brothers? It sounds like you're suggesting that implementing much-needed price controls upon the modern aviation industry will somehow oppress Orville and Wilbur Wright.

That is impossible. First, they are dead. Secondly, those two were hands-on inventors and engineers who served a higher, more creative calling than the gray-suited men who run today's airlines and only want to bilk dollars out of the customers' pockets. There's a huge difference.

For instance, if you asked Henry Ford, Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz, or Walter Chrysler to build an automobile by hand, they would be able to do it.

Conversely, when Michael Moore challenged the top executives of Ford, G.M., and Chrysler to build a single car with their own hands, none of those executives were able to. They weren't willing to get their soft, effeminate, bourgeois hands dirty. That's because they weren't the hands-on inventors that Daimler, Benz, or Ford were.

The same comparison can be made between the Wright brothers and today's airline executives. The Wright brothers built a plane fom scratch. So did Howard Hughes.

How many top airline executives living today could do that? Today's executives are empty suits with no character; only a desire to cut corners while raising prices.

So price controls don't insult the memory of the Wright brothers. The true affront to them -- the real menace that is undermining their legacy -- is the fact that uncouth barbarians like HAL's have stolen the industry from decent inventors like Orville and Wilbur.

Do you think Orville and Wilbur would have approved of the monstrosity that their industry has become, thanks to the likes of the price-gougers at HAL?

 

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