Sunday, May 20, 2007


I like the opportunity to say “thank you” to Star-Kist for all the good they intentionally and unintentionally do for our territory. While you’ve been bashed publicly for your relatively low wages (compared to the mainland not globally), you have yet to be praised for the blessings your business has made possible in the past, the present and hopefully, well into the future.

Though you don’t intend it, your presence in our territory has helped us realize an economies of scale in territorial transportation and utility costs. Simply put, without you, our families would have to pay more for electricity, water and gas. Because everything we have is imported, prices at the checkout counter would have been higher if you weren’t around to help spread transportation costs. You actually raise wages by helping us to lower prices.

You’ve also been bashed for your corporate greed. If corporate greed is what got you to start your business, if corporate greed is what got you to be the best at your business, if corporate greed is what makes you want to expand your business, then I unabashedly thank you for your corporate greed as well.

When many of our family go off island for medical treatment, they don’t want the most charitable doctor, the most environmentally friendly doctor or the most equal opportunity employing doctor. They go off island expecting the best damn doctor and treatment their money can buy. In this respect, we need you too to be the best damn tuna company money can buy.

Your success is unintentionally lending to our success; the pursuit of your self-interest is affording our people the opportunity to do the same. It’s almost as if it were by some invisible hand.

But instead of thanking you for all the good you may not intend to do, many want to raise your taxes, force up the wages you pay, and restructure electricity rates in what seems to be an attempt to just shift more of the burden onto you. How does one operate a business in a den of thieves?

Politicians, like Faleomavaega, on the other hand, don’t employ thousands of our people with their own money, and if it were not for the federal government and all those hard-working Palagi and Asian taxpayers, they would be paying our people a minimum wage of ZERO. You, not them, are our hero.

Star-Kist, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving our people an opportunity many around the world would die for. It’s a tough job for a tough people, but hopefully most of us don’t want to be fish cleaners forever. I hope most of us take the job, learn something, expand their knowledge and skills and move on to bigger and greater things in life. And hopefully those bigger and better things prepare us so that one day we can say, “If you have to go because our people won’t work for less, then good bye, no hard feelings and thank you for your business.”


At 6:25 PM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

That was a very excellent letter, Talifantastic!

If I were from Public Citizen, the Public Interest Research Group, Media Matters, or any other anti-capitalist Naderite propaganda mill, this would be the part where I would arbitrarily accuse you, without any evidence, of having been bribed by Starkist. Hahahah! And, while we're at it, let's accuse you of being bribed by Hawaiian Airlines, too.

I laughed extremely hard when you wrote, "Though you don’t intend it, your presence in our territory has helped us realize an economies of scale in territorial transportation and utility costs."

I wouldn't be surprised if Starkist's Public Relations Department felt offended by that sentence. The people there would say, "Yes, we at Starkist damn well do intend to make society better for everyone!"

I would have phrased it, "Whether you intended it or not, your presence in our territory has helped us realize an economy of scale in territorial transportation and utility costs."

I love how you write, "You've been bashed for your corporate greed."

This reminds me of what Francisco d'Anconia told the productive industrialist Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged:

"All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. . . . You have been called greedy for the magnificence of your power to create wealth. You, who've expended an inconceivable flow of energy, have been called a parasite. You, who've created created abundance where there had been nothing but wastelands and helpless, starving men before you, have been called a robber. You, who've kept them all alive, have been called an exploiter . . . Have you stopped to ask them: by what right? -- by what code? -- by what standard? No, you have borne it all and kept silent. . . .

"You're guilty of a great sin, Mr. Rearden, much guiltier than they tell you, but not in the way they preach. The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt -- and that is what you have been doing all your life. You have been paying blackmail, not for your vices, but for your virtues. You have been willing to carry the load of unearned punishment -- and to let it grow the heavier the greater the virtues you practiced. But your virtues were those which keep men alive."

I loved your observation that the pompous, moralizing politicians who scream about Starkist's wages are paying nothing to Starkist's employees. This reminds me of an observation Thomas Sowell made in one of his better moments:

"Apparently Wal-Mart does not pay its employees as much as third-party observers would like to see them paid. But...third parties who wax indignant are paying them nothing."


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