Monday, November 24, 2008

Who is the Fono Kidding?

Talifaitasi Satele

Now that lawmakers can claim their office expense allowances as taxable income, Senator Moliga believes “we can see some additional revenue going to the government”. But all they are doing under the new law is reducing their costs to us taxpayers, and that’s if they choose to do so.

If cutting its own costs is the Fono’s definition of generating new revenues, then all anyone has to do to get rich in this life is not spend any money at all.

Revenue is the result of producing something and then selling that product to somebody else. But what does the Fono produce that helps our economy grow? Legislation? Toilet paper adds more value to the economy than the paper many of their laws are written on.

If the Fono wants to help the ASG generate real new revenue, it can help by easing the burden on the producers of our society: business owners, employers, investors, employees, farmers and so on. Reduce their taxes, remove unnecessary red tape, and don’t compete with them using their own tax dollars.

Until then, the Fono shouldn’t pretend it’s doing anyone any favors by taxing its own allowances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Smoking Responsibly

Talifaitasi Satele

The Samoa News Editor notes that second-hand smoking is an invasion of our individual rights when permission is not asked or given, and I couldn't agree more. However, by coming onto private property where the owner allows smoking, you are implying permission. If you don’t agree with the owner’s decision, you can always go some place else.

The above shows how the free market regulates the risks of second-hand smoking. It puts individuals in charge and responsible of their own lives and property. But let’s take a look at the path the Fono wants to take us by banning smoking through the force of law.

We would have the Fono tell us how and where to establish designated smoking areas. If businesses and individuals violate the law, fellow citizens may report violations to the authorities. Alleged violators then would be imposed with a fine, or they may have to challenge such allegations with the Commerce Commission or the courts.

What we would have in the likely scenario above are situations that pit neighbor against neighbor, challenging one’s trust and faith in his fellow man. It would give rise to needless suspicion and animosity. It would also cost us money with the imposition of fines, and the expending of government resources such as the police, Commerce Commission and the courts in order to enforce this ban.

The real crime here is how this ban would divert our government's attention from protecting the public from real criminals to suppressing second-hand smoking on private property.

Ernest Alaimalo wrote in his Letter to the Editor, Tabacco Smoking, A Risk Worth Taking?, that he “can think of better ways of spending” his “healthcare dollars than helping someone whose cancer is due to his exercising his right to smoke”. I feel the same way with someone who eats too many McDonald’s quarter pounders or drinks way too many Vailimas. But what we have in American Samoa is Socialized Medicine where everyone pays for everyone else’s mistakes in life.

Whether it is smoking or eating a greasy, artery-plugging McDonald double cheeseburger, we should be forever mindful that with freedom comes great responsibility.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Let's Just Ban Life

Talifaitasi Satele

Did you know that there were 21,634 alcohol-induced deaths in the U.S. in 2005? Also in 2005, there were 27,472 vehicle fatalities in the country. If you like to swim, keep in mind that 3,582 people died in 2005 alone from swimming. And don’t play with fireworks, 11 people died from such dangerous products in 2006.

Actually, if you’re alive and reading this, you have a 100% chance of dying one day. With a statistic like that, the Fono should ban people from even living at all.

Monday’s letter to the editor by an anonymous writer, titled "Secondhand Smoke is Lethal” refers to a 1993 EPA report that declared environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) a dangerous carcinogen.

Robert Levy of the Cato Institute writes that in July of 1998, “federal judge William L. Osteen lambasted the EPA for ‘cherry picking’ the data, excluding studies that ‘demonstrated no association between ETS and cancer,’ and withholding ‘significant portions of its findings and reasoning in striving to confirm its a priori hypothesis.

Both ‘the record and EPA’s explanation,’ concluded the court, ‘make it clear that using standard methodology, EPA could not produce statistically significant results.’

Despite Mr. Levy’s findings, I’m not debating the dangers of second-hand smoking. I’m defending our individual right to engage in such a risk. In my opinion, life is just not worth living if there were no risks to take at all.