Thursday, October 11, 2007

Finding the Money

Senator Lolo Moliga asked for suggestions as to how to deal with the “problem” concerning teachers’ raises. I’m glad that he asked.

1) Allow departments to rollover money they save in one fiscal year to use in the next. This budgetary device will give departments an incentive to cut waste and invest money to their most valued uses, whether that is merit-pay for teachers, books, supplies, equipment, etc.

- Prohibit non-emergency reprogramming of department monies.

2) Give schools more autonomy over their budgets. There are different ways to reward teachers for good performance (meaning student performance). One school may offer bonuses while another may have a promotional system based on results. Let them experiment instead of having a one-size-fits-all approach.

- What may work in one school may not necessarily work in the next, or one school may come up a unique idea that the others may not. A decentralized approach with more minds involved is better than a centralized approach with a single mind set running things. Eventually, best practices will proliferate across the school system.

3) Make school budgets for personnel pay dependent on the number of students being educated. Meaning that a school with 20 students should have a larger budget for pay than a school with 10 students. Therefore, there should be a method of indexing the budget to the number of students in the classroom in a way that every child carries a certain amount of dollars with him or her. Moreover, every child should have the freedom to go whichever school his or her parents choose.

- This will empower students and parents as schools will then have to compete for them as customers instead of just consumers of a public good. This will truly put our children as the priority of our educational system.

- By putting responsibility for pay in the hands of students/parents, administrators and teachers, there would be no reason to protest the Fono for pay raises.

4) Privatize public utilities like ASTCA, the Port Administration and KVZK-TV. Sell them off to the highest bidder and use the proceeds to help with the up-front costs of any salary increase proposal. Put what’s left over in an investment account that can assist with payments later on.

- With Blue Sky and Toa Com in the market, the social-economic mission of ASTCA makes no sense. There is no “heart and soul of the government” telephone company in the mainland. It makes no sense to have one in American Samoa .

5) Sell the Sega’ula and other ASG assets.

- Last we heard, we still don’t know what the Governor’s limousine with wings is costing us taxpayers. It would be easier to observe the costs for emergency transport for residents in Manu’a if the ASG had instead bid out a contract to private airlines. The contract can stipulate that for a certain price, an airline would be obligated to make emergency flights at any time of the day; not that our local airlines haven’t been doing a good job of that already.

-Set up a fund to pay for these emergency flights, make contributions to it tax deductible and publicly thank contributors for donating to a good cause. It will serve a mutual benefit in that it will help with advertising for businesses and bring the community together to help our brothers and sisters in Manu’a.

6) Reduce Fono and other governmental leaders’ salaries and allowances and personnel costs. Senator Moliga advised ASPA to do just as much in an effort to lower electricity rates. It would be highly hypocritical for the Fono to not follow its own advice.

The money is there if our leaders choose to look for it. Or they can continue to look the other way.


At 11:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

MR.Satele you are stateing a very strong argument there but how ever I am not writeing to disagree with you but i am writeing inregards to your strong use of words towards our government.
What are your emotions towards our government ? judgeing by your blog it seems like your not happy.

Are you really mad at our government or are you just not happy with our way of life ?

Or is it the fact that majority of our people really don't care about what the government is doing?

Maybe thats how some of us were brought up, to turn the other cheek waiting for GOD to give that person what he really deserves.

Or do you think samoans are not aware of what is really going on ?

You propose a good idea on budgeting our taxpayers money, I have been around the world in this little life that I am trying to hold on to.I have seen the basically the same thing all over different countries.I think you shouldn't be proposeing on how to budget the taxpayers money i am sure they have people that already thought of that.I think you should present your blog on how is the taxpayers money being spent.
But what do I know I am just another taxpayer who turns the other cheek.

At 10:27 PM , Blogger Talifaitasi Satele said...

I want to thank the person who spent the time to write this comment. These questions have helped me to reflect upon my reasons for writing these editorials and sending them to Samoa News.

I also want to apologize for the delay in responding; I have been busy with work, school and family.

I will answer the first two questions together. I’m unhappy with our government in as far as it doesn’t follow our way of life.

When I was growing up back home, I remember that I had to respect my friends and relatives’ homes whenever I visited. I had to ask before I received anything. If I wanted to maintain good relationships, I brought over bananas from our plantation. They sent me home with fa’alifu fa’i (cooked banana with coconut cream).

The common thread that sows the above together is the respect for other people’s right to their property. Could you imagine how disrespectful I would have been as a child if I had instead believed that I had a higher right to my neighbor’s property? Entering my friends’ homes without knocking, watching their TV and eating their food without asking, ignoring their parents’ rules because who would they be to make them, and so on.

I am unhappy when the ASG does not respect our right to our property. Taxes, price controls, zoning, frivolous regulations and eminent domain are based on the belief that government has a higher right to your property than you do. If that’s the case, than you can’t call it “your” property to begin with. Everything is ASG property, and what you have is only leased to you by the government.

When I was growing up, I remember that I had no choice but to respect my friends’ decisions and choices. I could disagree with and give advice about their choices, but I couldn’t force them to make the decisions I wanted them to. I also understood that a lot of their issues were their own and their parents’ responsibility. If their unacceptable behavior continued, the worst I could do was choose not to be their friend.

I also remember that not everyone in my family, village or church was a good person. I’ve found a good friend in people who were not of my family, village, church or race. I’ve met good people who are wealthy. I’ve met good people who are not so wealthy. I’ve learned growing up to judge people on their own individual merits.

I am unhappy when the Governor, the Fono and the rest of the ASG thinks it’s good policy to flan the flames of class warfare, demonize and persecute immigrants because they’re not Samoan, portray our people as victims of every perceived social ill out there like racism and discrimination, and ignore our value, responsibilities and rights as individuals.

I am unhappy when “profits” are demonized but salaries and allowances for doing busy work are not. I grew up competing with my peers at sports and school and earned my profits with every “A+” I’ve earned, with every boxing match I won, with every touchdown in fa’apele (informal rugby) I’ve scored, with every basket I shot. I was hungry for accomplishments and never cared to be ashamed. But in the world of business, in the world of work, I’m supposed to. Nonsense! I never had to apologize for succeeding, and I never will.

Most of us respect one another as a person, respect each others’ homes and property, respect our choices and responsibilities and applaud each other on the way along the road to success. These are characteristics common among people of all races, and although cultures may differ, their source of respect is the same.

Yes, governments all over the world are having the same problems as the ASG, because they too oft ignore individual rights and responsibilities in their approach to governance.

I don’t choose to leave my life and the lives of those who I care about up to the “experts” in power. I don’t believe I’ve spoken about anything new in my editorials; a lot of these ideas about how freedom works have been promoted by others long before I decided to pick up the torch.

Thank you again for writing.


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