Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Arrogance of Power

If Larry Fuss decides to take the Togiola administration to court over the container inspection policy, I will personally write the man a check. The ASG doesn't appear to be interested in doing what is best and reasonable for all concerned: businesses, consumers and even the government with regards to revenue collection! It's instead engaged in a turf war, which the administration is determined to win no matter the costs.

Despite the apparent folly of this policy, Treasurer Gaea P. Failautusi could have been right. Containers could have been inspected in a timely fashion. Businesses could have been able to pay for their imports and restock their shelves at a cost so insignificant that they would not "threaten" to pass them along to their customers. But the policy has run its course long enough to prove that neither is true.

Even if store shelves in American Samoa weren't going empty or prices for imports like sodas weren't going up, the fact that businesses balked at the proposal should have given any reasonable person pause to think things through.

Why? Because business survival relies heavily on low costs and timeliness. The role costs play is quite apparent. On the other hand, it may seem hard to see why time also means money. Lost time can mean the expiration of goods. Lost time can also mean lost opportunity to serve a customer or to expand services.

If the container policy wasn't costly or very slow for that matter, why wouldn't a majority of businesses embrace it? To avoid paying excise taxes on undeclared goods? That hardly seems reason enough to confront a hostile government over something that should otherwise be insignificant. Some in the business community even suggested what might be more efficient and fairer measures to revenue collection.

But the Togiola administration doesn't want to hear any of this. This is what happens when we give power to the government to operate a function that shouldn't be its role. A port operated by a for-profit company wouldn't slap the hand that feeds it. I imagine it would want to impose fees on the most customers as possible and invest in the necessary equipment to ensure users don't cheat on their bills or bring in illegal contraband.

Unfortunately, some see "might" as being "right". It's an arrogance of power that is seriously incompatible with a free market and a free people.


At 7:44 AM , Blogger Talifaitasi Satele said...

I just realized that in this letter to the Samoa News Editor, I sound like I could afford to write a check to Mr. Fuss for a $1000 or something. With my budget, I could only afford $200 at best. So if he does organize an effort to take the Togiola administration to court, that's how much I'm contributing.


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