Monday, February 25, 2008

Opposition to FCC Petition

( Below is my written testimony to the FCC concerning a petition submitted by South Seas Broadcasting Inc. to mandate that cell phone companies apply their domestic long distance rates to American Samoa.)

I'm not going to pretend that I'm a telecommunications expert, but I believe a few basic assumptions apply to market prices of cell phone calls to our territory. I assume the market is open to anyone to provide services. I also assume that one makes the most money by having the largest consumer base as possible. If my assumptions are wrong, please explain to me why.

Competition and the profit motive drive prices down, so why do we have this FCC petition to force cell phone companies to apply domestic rates to our territory?

Is it because we're Americans too? Is that the standard for setting prices? Your ethnicity, race, or nationality?

Is it because cell phone companies and their stockholders are "greedy"? When I think of that word, I imagine savage cavemen with clubs drooling at the mouths over piles of cash. Or fat men slobbering and chomping down on a chicken drumstick laughing all the way to the bank.

Instead, what you're likely to see at cell phone companies are professional men and women working hard and being accountable to their customers. They are fathers, mothers, members of the community. Their stockholders are also likely to be hard working people putting in their life savings through 401k's to earn the highest returns possible for retirement. The word "greedy", however, wipes that all away.

Who knows, maybe our oft-raided ASG Retirement Fund is invested in these companies? Surely, our retirees want the most profitable return as possible on their -­ I'm sorry -­ the Fono's money.

Or is it just perhaps that our markets are different?

I got an idea. An ad rate at KABC-AM in Los Angeles is $1083 for a 30- second spot. Pretty expensive, yeah? But consider this: the population in L.A. is close to 10 million people (2006 est.). That's 0.0001083 cents per potential customer. Let's say radio advertising in American Samoa goes for $100 for a 30-second spot. Pretty cheap compared to L.A.? But for 60,000 potential customers, that's 0.00166667 per potential customer. That's 15 times more than what they're charging in the mainland. That's price-gouging!

If anything, the FCC should look into the pricing practices of radio stations in American Samoa. And why stop there? We're a democracy where the majority rules. Anything and everything is up for a vote. Individual rights don't exist, and you definitely don't have the right to price your property as you see fit.

If the FCC doesn't uphold individual rights then perhaps its license should be revoked.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No to Popularity Contest

The Attorney General's position should not end up being a popularity contest, and that is what will happen if we make it an elected position. The standard for justice should not be what the public sentiment is at the time, which direction the political wind is blowing or if a case will help the AG hold office or further his or her career. Having the AG come under the administration is not perfect but it is far better than the circus show we will see once we put the position up for a popular vote.

A good example of this is the Duke University lacrosse case where the North Carolina's Durham County District AG, Mike Nifong, prosecuted three members of the lacrosse team accused of rape and withheld evidence proving their innocence. He has been disbarred for "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation".

Thomas Sowell writes the following in National Review Online,

"Now Nifong faced a tough election against a woman he had once fired and who would undoubtedly fire him if she became district attorney."

"Where would that leave Nifong? Out on the street at an age when most people are not likely to be starting a new career. His pension as well as his job could be in jeopardy. Moreover, his opponent was favored to win the election."

"Then along came the Duke University "rape" case, like a deliverance from heaven."

"Politically, the case had everything: White jocks from affluent families at a rich and prestigious university versus a black woman who was a student at a far poorer and less distinguished black institution nearby."

"Above all, there were black voters who could swing the election Nifong's way if he played the race card and conjured up all the racial injustices of the past, which he would now vow to fight against in the present."

And there we have it: a circus show instead of justice.

Some people see democracy as some golden standard by which to judge everything. Instead, democracy is a tool for the people to run the state not to administer justice.

American Samoa's AG is responsible to the governor, and the governor is responsible to the popular vote. So is the House of Representatives who, along with the Senate, can summon the AG to testify on a pertinent issue. If the AG does something that attracts the ire of the people, believe me, he or she is going to get fired, elected or not.

Is that not enough? Is the system so broken that the Fono has to fix it? Their solution will come with its own problems, which would more likely be worse.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

An Empty Promise

The corporate tax rate is nothing more than an empty promise. Think about it: the ASG stands to pocket a whopping 44% from foreign corporations.

So let's say a non-U.S. business makes a $1 million in profit. The ASG would get $440,000, and use that money to promise voters things like education, healthcare, pay raises or anything that helps to win an election. The government, with its magical figure of 44% (is there some reason it's not 45?), will take care of the people's welfare.

The only problem is that foreign corporations are not stupid enough to come to our territory just to get ripped off. So instead of attracting more competition and more investment that will diversify our economy, lower prices, add jobs and raise wages (and thus empowering our people to take care of their own welfare), we end up with 44% of nothing.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Minimum Wage Hearings

There is one more audience whose views need to be included into the House hearings on the minimum wage issue, and that's employees. That group is the beneficiary class or the targeted group of that legislation, and they represent a significant block of voters. There should be no doubt that that is the only reason such laws are put into place.

The question employees need to testify on and answer is if they feel this is how wages should be raised. The minimum wage law practically puts a gun to employers' heads and says, "Pay this wage level or else." Do employees feel, as I believe most honest people do, that wages are negotiable and dependent on one's level of experience, skills and education and the nature of supply and demand for the job?

All of these factors count, otherwise we'll be arguing why football players make more than Faleomavaega when most people would argue he does a vital and important job. I not being one of them of course.