Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time for a Citizen Legislature

Despite all the talk of serving the "greater public good", the Fono has diverted monies meant for several "needs" of their constituents to serve their own "wants". They have shifted taxpayer dollars from our children's education, protection, health and justice services in what was clearly an act of self-preservation. In their view, 100% increase in allowances and career service jobs come before the very things they've cut funding for.

Contrast this with private sector, where it's easier to see what you get for your money. If you pay a dollar or so, you get a double cheeseburger. Pay $5 extra, and you can get a super-sized combo meal. Pay extra in the private sector, you could get overnight shipping from DHL. Pay higher taxes to the federal government on the other hand, and all we get are higher salaries for U.S. Postal Service employees while our mail continues to sit at the Honolulu Intl. Airport.

When we pay more in taxes, do our toilets flush any faster? When they hike taxes, does our water run any cleaner? Do they pick up our trash any sooner? Will it mean that they will fill in potholes in a week instead of a year?

Observing how services are rendered in the private sector versus the government, it seems that it is the free market that is of, by and for the people.

If our leaders are wondering why they are losing our respect, the manner in which they expect it is a large reason why. Respect is a two-way street, not an obligation or a sacrifice required for the unconditional benefit of another regardless of title, age or status.

If they say we must pay taxes in order to get education, then give us quality education. We don't pay taxes only to see government/ Fono salaries and allowances go up, while the quality of needed services goes down. Giving us "value for value", being accountable and prudent with our money, is worthy of respect. Respect is not given freely; it is earned.

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America believed in a citizen legislature instead of a professional class of politicians. A few states such as Idaho and Wyoming carry on the tradition of having representatives come from their private sector jobs and "sacrifice" to represent their own and their neighbor's interests. In Idaho, legislators get $15,646 a year and $1700 for office expenses. Compare that with what we pay our professional politicians in American Samoa, whose population is 24 times smaller.

If our politicians and bureaucrats were required to live in the real world like the rest of us, perhaps they wouldn't be so quick to over-tax, over-regulate and over-spend everything, and begin to understand what it means to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.


At 9:24 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

Taliwood Boulevard,

At your request, I shall present a socialist argument to challenge you.

You write:

"Observing how services are rendered in the private sector versus the government, it seems that it is the free market that is of, by and for the people."

Any socialist can rebut to you: "Oh, yeah? It would seem that the free market is only of, by, and for the rich people. At the expense of the poor."

Do you think it's fair that everybody has a fundamental right to healthcare coverage, and yet only rich people in America get it? Would you want to live in a fully privatized system where, if somebody gets stabbed with a knife and then crawls into an emergency room, he can be immediately turned away just because he doesn't have health insurance?

Just contrast how the haves and have-nots live. If you watch "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," you can see Hugh Hefner surround himself in a hot tub with a bevy of curvaceous women in bikinis or less. Do you think that homeless men don't aspire to that? Do you think it's fair that only rich people in America get what they want?

You also write:

"If they say we must pay taxes in order to get education, then give us quality education. We don't pay taxes only to see salaries and allowances go up, while the quality of the services we need goes down. Giving us 'value for value,' being accountable and prudent with our money is worthy of respect."

Lots of people can inform you that innovation does occur in the government-controlled school system. From the early 1900s to the 1950s, the public education system focused on authoritarianism and on training children to become obedient factory workers. Children were taught that only Westerners were civilized, and that Columbus was a hero. And children were subjected to anticommunist, pro-McCarthy propaganda.

Since then, many innovations have occurred. Innovators in education decided that the "whole language" method was better in teaching reading than "phonics." Educators now have computers in the classroom and emphasize the information economy.

Look at all the advancements in civic studies. Nowadays, children are taught that Columbus was evil and no good came from his setting foot in the New World. Rather than be taught that the West is superior, children are informed that the history of Western capitalism, from the Renaissance to the present, is based on material plunder and destruction of indigenous cultures. And kids learn that it was McCarthy and other anticommunists who oppressed Americans with their paranoid witch hunts.

Children are taught self-esteem. Even more importantly, consider the fact that sex education was ignored in schools from 1900 to the 1940s. Nowadays, children are instructed on how to properly apply condoms. And they learn about the need for environmental regulations. That didn't start until the 1970s.

These are all changes made in the education system for the purpose of innovation. High school graduates today have a much more sophisticated, less-naive understanding of society than did high-school graduates in 1940.

So, as education spending has increased, so has innovation in education. Is that not value-for-value, Tali? Isn't that a fair trade? That's a trade far fairer than your notion that people should only get to have quality services if they were born rich to begin with.

I eagerly await your response to this socialist argument. :-)

At 9:48 AM , Blogger Stuart K. Hayashi said...

And why did you put "value for value" in scare quotes? That's not a common phrase, so I guess you must be quoting somebody. And yet, if you were quoting someone, the person you were quoting was not named.

Why are you quoting a funny phrase from some weirdo whom, apparently, nobody has heard of?

"Value for value" is not a familiar term, but it does remind me of a term that has become familiar throughout households on the continental U.S.: "quid pro quo," as in "quid-pro-quo sexual harassment."

It means "something for something." That is, the rich greedy boss won't give a promotion to his very-qualified female subordinate unless she has sex with him first. That, of course, is deplorable. And we hear about that happening in corporate America. This, too, is another black eye on your precious "free market." Yes, there are scare quotes because I am quoting you.


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