Saturday, June 14, 2008

Airline Troubles

With airlines coming under increasing criticism for their price hikes, I believe this piece by Patrick Smith in the Washington Post to be an important consideration for those passionate about the debate over airfares. American Samoa has had its share of infighting over the cost of flying (with Hawaiian Airlines), and it won't be long until we see the same story played out in the US Congress.

Back in the day in Tutuila, villages far away from the town area had very few vehicles owned by a few families. Those families who owned cars would charge their neighbors if they wanted to catch a ride with them to go to town. Now imagine if a politician like Governor Togiola came along in those days and tried to regulate market prices.

Today, more families own vehicles to drive themselves.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

2008 Presidential Election

I've been debating whether I should vote for John McCain or whoever got the Libertarian nomination for a while now but because of his speech in New Orleans today, I'm more likely now to vote for the Republican nominee. I don't agree with him on campaign finance reform or his views on self-interest, but I think his overall approach may lean towards more free-market solutions than with government. That's a big IF in itself.

My money is on Obama for winning the presidency though. Let's see if the market can predict this one.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Minimum Wage in 2007

In 2007, only 2.3 percent of all hourly workers earned at or below the minimum wage, which was $5.15 from January 2007 through July 2007 and $5.85 from August 2007 to the end of the year. I credit Mr. Hayashi for initially pointing out this source to me a couple of years ago, and I recommend his piece on the minimum wage issue. One of his more interesting findings is that, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' article, "63 percent of workers who make the minimum wage or less receive raises that put them above the minimum-wage level within one year of employment. Only 15 percent of workers still earn the minimum wage after a period of three years."

What does this mean for American Samoa? In our rush to address some imaginary social injustice, we may deprive many of our people of a necessary step up the economic ladder. Nevertheless, presumed social benefits shouldn't be justification for government to trump individual rights of either employers or employees. We shouldn't have to debunk the liberal case of social benefits or justice of the minimum wage to defend the rights of employers and employees to negotiate wages between themselves.

I guess that's another argument for another day.