Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taxing the Rich Hurts the Poor

Unlike socialists, I observe that wealth is something that is created and not some fixed pie in the sky. Progressive taxation, where one pays a higher percentage in taxes as he earns more income, is justified on the grounds that one should pay more to the government because he or she has a larger share of that fixed pie. In that way, a benevolent class of politicians can vote on how to redistribute that wealth amongst the masses.

The fixed pie theory assumes that taxing “the rich”, whose definition depends on who you ask, will have no negative consequences on the poor and everyone else in between. From the socialist point of view, only good can come from taking money from those who have it and giving it to those who don’t have it. One of the reasons is because of the assumption that rich people horde all their wealth under some mattress somewhere in their homes. Many believe that their achievements of happiness came at the expense of the rest of society and had no indirect, unintended or some “invisible hand” benefits to anyone else in the community.

Bah! Hum Bug! You will hear leftist political commentators on TV proclaim that “the rich” only buy things like Rolexes and Ferraris. This is supposed to stir some feeling of jealously in a viewer like myself because I can’t afford to buy a Rolex but have purchased a Citizen watch instead. But who makes Rolexes and Ferraris, and what do they purchase? And who makes whatever the makers of Rolexes and Ferraris purchase, and what do they purchase? And so on and so forth.

I work at a timeshare property whose owners I consider to be pretty wealthy. If you are willing to pay $40,000 and up for a week’s worth of ownership, you’re likely to have a lot moolah backing you up. Where would a person like myself be when a future President Hillary Clinton taxes the hell out of our customers? Will “the rich” still come to our property bringing in the necessary revenue that keeps me employed and pays for my and my son’s healthcare?

I’m disgusted with politicians who think I don’t know a little something about economics, assume that I won’t notice the unintended or intended consequences of their tax hikes and expect that I will appreciate their redistributed welfare when I’m standing in the unemployment line.

But let’s say that “the rich” don’t spend and instead only save their money. Wouldn’t it then be economically beneficial for government to tax and spend their money?

Most people don’t save their money under a mattress. Instead, they’re likely to invest in conservative portfolios or stash it in a bank with low returns. Or they may assume some risk to get higher returns in aggressive investments. In this way, “the rich” provide the liquidity in the financial markets where risky start-up companies can find the cash they need (through high interest loans) and future homeowners can take out mortgages (through relatively low interest loans).

We’re not likely to hear politicians consider any of these facts however. Class warfare gets crusader politicians elected, even though government in America , unlike some other countries, enforces no classes of society. All men are created equal here, but it will be your individual talents, motivation, determination and values that determine how far you will go.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Free-Market Individualist's Anthem?

Like most entertainers, Billy Joel is a politically-correct statist. However, in 1978 he performed a song that sounds like the anthem of a free-market individualist, emphasizing independence, the American dream, and the spirit of Horatio Alger. The lyrics go,

I don't need you to worry for me, 'cause I'm all right
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore; this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone

I never said you had to offer me a second chance
(I never said you had to)
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
(I never said)
I still belong; don't get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time

"I never said you had to offer me a second chance"? "I never said I was a victim of circumstance"? If everyone had that attitude, the welfare state would be no more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Privatization at its Best

If we privatize the Department of Buses and Taxis, what would its overpaid director and army of government clerks, statisticians, bus drivers, taxi cabs operators, and accountants do for a living? How could we allow this important, vital public good be left to greedy entrepreneurs who care about nothing else than to make a quick buck? Moreover, there is not enough money to make in our great territory to support the investment necessary to allow the private sector to assume such a tremendous responsibility essential to the general welfare of our people.

How could government keep accountability of how private bus and taxi owners operate their businesses? Without the not-for-profit integrity and honesty of government, wouldn’t these private entities waste precious resources in their operations of public transportation? If one operator is not accountable, he would lose the capital necessary to expand his business, and eventually, his unaccountability will reflect in the prices he has to charge his customers. Then an operator, who is accountable and wise with his limited resources, can charge a lower price than what the first operator charges or even expand his operation by buying another bus. The second operator will then take more market share from the first operator simply because of the first operator’s unaccountability! This is what we, liberals, call dog-eat-dog competition, and that’s what will happen if we privatize the Department of Buses and Taxis, and we don’t need it!

People need set routes and times for transportation, and that’s not guaranteed under private control. People need to be ensured that buses will service certain areas because we can’t rely on asking them to take a turn off the major roads for there’s no money in going the extra mile for the customer. Common courtesy and asking “please” and saying “thank you” are things of the past. Transportation is a right, and bus drivers and taxi operators should be forced into providing it for the common good of society.

Our government and the Commerce Commission have both the responsibility and the power to ensure that public transportation remains in good, orderly and uniform manner. If we privatize the Department of Buses and Taxis, it would be chaos and anarchy if left to the pursuit of profits.

But then again, isn’t public transportation already privatized?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Economics in 8 1/2 Minutes

This video is entitled "This Is John Galt Speaking..., Pt. 10,", alluding to a speech given by the character John Galt in the novel Atlas Shrugged.

This video is made by "XCowboy2," a.k.a., Richard Gleaves.

You can learn more about economic principles from this video than you can in many college economics classes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Abolish the Commerce Commission

The 'aiga buses and taxi cabs, the greatest examples of capitalism mainly exercised by Samoans, have been under attack not by the Palagi or the Asian but by other Samoans for a very long time. More specifically, they are Samoans on the Commerce Commission and in the ASG. Their price controls and other recent mandates, such as a mandatory uniform color, amount to nothing less than Samoan on Samoan crime.

As Senate President Moliga has finally realized with the effects of freight costs on grocery prices in Manu'a, costs do exist and do matter. While gas and maintenance costs have soared, our bureaucrats and politicians have told our Samoan entrepreneurs that they cannot recoup such expenses through the fares they charge for the services they provide. To add insult to injury, they have dreamed up new mandates that will only put a heavier load on the backs of already broke operators and owners of 'aiga buses and taxi cabs.

Fare increases will do more than just cover current costs; they will open the door to other possibilities. Right now, how can we expect these Samoan entrepreneurs to invest in better and more efficient vehicles or designs, when none of them can charge a rate that can make that happen? Or how about air-conditioned buses or fare meters in taxis? How can we expect this particular industry to advance when our government demands that they suck up the costs and carry the burden for everybody else? If this is our government's stance, then the quality of our public transportation will be the same or worse 20 years from now while the rest of world has left us behind.

From the way things are going, it appears the Commerce Commission and many others in the ASG seem to only want one thing, and that is to one day make public transportation a government monopoly. It'll be one where local and federal taxpayers pay the "fare" while our bureaucrats get "well" in a new ASG department riddled with corruption and nepotism.

It is about time we, Samoans who care and are not part of the system, to stand up for the rights of our brothers and sisters who are making an honest living driving buses and taxi cabs. They exist, they have bills to pay, and they have children to feed and send to school.

This is their living, this is their pursuit of happiness, and it is their individual right to charge whatever they please.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Evil is the Root of Evil

I grew up hearing that “money is the root of all evil.” If only there were no dollar signs, people wouldn’t murder, wouldn’t steal, wouldn’t commit fraud and wouldn’t cheat their way to success. What a lie! If anything, money has made these things easier to do as it has with everyday activities in the marketplace. Whether we have money or not, a stealer will steal and a murderer will murder.

If the notion that money is evil was simply an innocent mistake on the part of its adherents than that “sin” could be forgivable. However, it appears some push this baseless slogan as a way of disarming people of ownership over their property, over their money. What better way to take what you have not earned than to make those who have earned it feel guilty about owning it in the first place.

You have not stolen anything in the private sector as long as the market is open to anyone who can offer a lower price or better quality. If someone says you charge too much, then please tell that person to open up a shop and show us how to charge a lower price.

Defend your keep that you have earned through an honest day of hard work. To feel guilty for a sin that you have not committed is the greatest evil of them all.