Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plastic Saves Lives

Talifaitasi W. Satele

Have you ever seen that commercial where the setting is in a hospital, and everything made of plastic starts disappearing? The I.V. bags, X-Ray Photos, the bedding patients lie on, etc. After all things plastic have disappeared, the hospital room is bare metal and wood; not a pretty sight at all, especially if you’re an institution charged with saving people’s lives.

As Mr. Kneubuhl acknowledges in his guest editorial dated 8/19/2009, “The Pago Pago Jellyfish”, everything we consume involves the use of plastic in one form or another. Most of our foods are packaged with and preserved by the material. Why? Because plastic’s attributes make that possible.

If another material could do what plastic does at a cheaper price, we would be using it. We use plastic because it’s cheap, very durable and very convenient, and any realistic alternative would have to surpass those qualities if it has any chance of serving as a replacement in the free market.

Nevertheless, it is plastic’s greatest strength (durability) that serves as its greatest weakness in the eyes of the public. It’s not biodegradable (if it were, we wouldn’t be using it the way we do) and it sticks around long enough to cause an eyesore. But that shouldn’t serve as reason to dismiss this product’s blessings, but rather as a point of focus for its proper disposal.

And one can glean as much from the comments on Mr. Kneubuhl’s guest editorial on Samoa News’ website. And I believe Mark would agree with me that as far as plastic being an inherent danger to its human consumers’ health, the science is not settled yet.

But as far as the plastic bag ban being that gentle “prodding” the Chamber of Commerce believes businesses need to do what they think is right, let’s remember how gentle the container inspections at the loading docks were, or the Governor’s ban on 10 year old import vehicles. The first was a boondoggle failure and the latter caused mass confusion with residents (especially for Military Veterans returning home) losing time, money and assets.

Pollution is a problem that involves more than just plastic bags, and their outright ban may have costs that far outweigh the benefits.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Standing With Senator Velega

Talifaitasi W. Satele

What an honor it must have been to stand up as one of the two shepherds who tried their best to protect their flock from a chamber full of wolves. It is not easy to do what is right, especially when the rest of your peers take the easy way out. Yet there he was standing alone; a situation in which righteous men often find themselves.

But I would like the Senator to know that he is not alone in voting “no” to the $200K bill to fund the Heritage Week in Hawaii. He has a whole island of constituents in his corner as they too have never consented to that expenditure— since none of their representatives or senators voted to approve the bill before the money got spent.

The Senator should remind his colleagues that the Constitution serves a contract between the People and the Government. Government derives its powers from the People through the terms outlined in the Constitution. For Government not to discharge its duties in accordance with the terms of the Constitution constitutes a breach of its contract with the People.

If Government continues to function without regard to the Constitution, then the People are no longer its masters. Government becomes a power onto itself, and that sets a very dangerous precedent.

Legislators always talk about protecting the integrity of one of our most important institutions in our system of checks and balances. But when they had that very chance to stand up to do so, they decided it was best to remain seated.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Drawing the Line

Talifaitasi W. Satele

The Private Sector and the ASG may have a nice, cozy relationship going on with its partnership together on the minimum wage petition, but that will soon come to an end.

For one, Congress will never delay the next increase in the minimum wage law lest they be made out to be a bunch of hypocrites by Republicans and liberals alike in the national media.

Two, the devastating effects of an increase in labor costs based on nothing other than Congress’ preconceived notions of social justice will force the ASG to choose between either upsetting its own work force (for cutting personnel costs) or its new found friend (for raising taxes on them to pay for its personnel costs).

As California and many other states have figured out the hard way, government is no creator of wealth. If government did create wealth, it could tax itself on the way to a balanced budget!

But the truth of the matter is that it is the Private Sector that creates wealth and the new revenues governments have had the pleasure of redistributing. So what many states have had to decide during this recession is either to raise taxes, cut spending or both.

Right now, the ASG is positioning itself to raise taxes with its un-prioritized spending. $200K for a Heritage week in Hawaii and trips to Washington D.C. to hand deliver the minimum wage petition do not put the ASG in a fiscally responsible position at a time when COS departure will mean a substantial loss amount of taxes to fund the government. And the Private Sector has said virtually nothing in the way of constructive criticism of the government’s reckless spending habits.

If private citizens don’t draw the line somewhere sometime soon, it will be that much more difficult to complain when the ASG comes knocking on the door after running up the tab.