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.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Goodbye Apathy

In The Matrix, Morpheus advised, "Free your mind."

One way to do that is to read an excellent book like this one.

Here is a video made by Casey Smith.

Aside from the satire about scholarships, the film doesn't have much in the way of political-economic commentary. However, it points the viewer toward something full of insight about society.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Truth About Cuba's Socialized Medicine

John Stossel exposes the reasons why people falsely believe that Cuba's "universal healthcare" is top-notch.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Consuming Hypocrisy

This is a video starring and written by Rhys Southan. The music is done by Eliza Wren Payne, who briefly speaks in the film.

It originally appeared online on FreedomAds.Org in the year 2000.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Trade Embargo on China

Further discussion is necessary in regards to the government’s effort to protect the citizens of American Samoa from hazardous products made in China. While this protective role is proper for the ASG, it’s hard to believe that legislators, who have a history of being anti-free trade, have only our protection on their minds while pushing the Governor’s trade embargo on Chinese goods.

What may start out as an innocent program designed to identify goods that may be deadly for consumption can easily turn into a system that simply seeks to eliminate competition from foreign competitors. With the power to ban any import, there is no doubt local entrepreneurs will find it very attractive to lobby the ASG for protection of their businesses at consumers’ expense.

When the people see prices go up because the ASG imposes a ban on particular imports, we should continually ask whether such action by our government is warranted and necessary. If we have to suffer higher costs and less choice due to an embargo because our safety may be at risk, then we should demand that the ASG lift its trade restrictions as soon as they have addressed such safety concerns. Otherwise, our people will have to suffer a lower standard of living for no other reason than to afford relief for local businesses and whatever payoffs that politicians and bureaucrats would get in a corrupted process.

While it may be necessary for government to take the initiative to protect consumers from a potential threat, the ideal choice is always for an informed and active citizenry to take the lead. Whether it makes the national news or not, we should always be vigilant in what and how we buy. Consider the reputation of the producer, remember your experiences with a product, find out fellow customer experiences, create forums to discuss consumer matters and share information with others, and write to local media like Samoa News.

We all know that we get what we pay for. Sometimes we get that shoddy product because we couldn’t afford the better one at the time. We do what we have to do to get by one day at a time. The ASG shouldn’t be in the business of making our lives more difficult than it already is unless it’s absolutely necessary.