Friday, February 02, 2007

WE ARE OUR OWN ENEMY

We should be proud of our family and friends in government who have worked plenty years at the ASG and who continue to put their blood, sweat and tears into what they do. Many are professionals who come from all walks of life and are very committed to their jobs. But our families' and our friends' job security shouldn't come in the way of moving forward on enacting good policy that will benefit all people of American Samoa in a real and substantial way.

For far too long we lived under the false assumptions and assurances that the canneries were going to stay forever and that the only direction federal funding was going was up. These two sources of revenue have funded the ASG graciously, sparing our politicians from the responsibility of building a real economy. An economy that doesn't force mainland taxpayers to fund our way of life or bribe an entire industry with tax/wage credits.

But how can any of our people aspire to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and be pioneers in a brave new world of industry when our government does everything to discourage us from becoming self-reliant and independent? From high taxes to unjustifiable custom fees to complex licensing requirements and burdensome bureaucracy to competition from our very own tax dollars. All in the name of the mighty "free lunch" that our politicians somehow believe they are still capable of handing out.

Yet the market has proven time and again in many places once thought impossible to do the impossible. Places like Hong Kong in East Asia and Estonia in Eastern Europe, where people live with rising prosperity alongside a government that does little more for its citizens than to govern. But here in American Samoa, we've asked our government to do everything, and as a result, suffered from the corruption, nepotism and a lower standard of living that comes from an entity that doesn't like competition or troublemakers who embrace the honorable profit-motive.

But how would our politicians supplement their dangerous spending if their precious government departments, which we all thought were for "the people", were not around to guarantee their loan and bond measures. And notice how our politicians' own pay is never up for consideration to help raise the minimum wage, better our schools, assist the poor and the disabled, purchase a new antenna or a new faleo'o for the Fono. A 100% increase in Fono allowances can never be a 50% increase or a 25% increase.

We all have family and friends in the ASG and we should be proud and confident in the work they do. We should have faith that if they are truly qualified, they can make it in a private sector setting versus a government one. Unfortunately, our politicians are more concerned with further gaming the status quo system to benefit their own relatives at the expense of our future, and this is totally unacceptable!

We have met our enemy, and he is us.

Talifaitasi Satele

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