GONG SHOW: I’LL DRINK TO THAT…

I no longer drink that much — although I do indulge my 60+ years with an overdose of wine or beer once in a big-while, and of course I’ve quit smoking, it’s going on 4 years now.

And may I say that there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about having a glass of wine or a swig of suds, or a healthy shot of whisky (they have that beautiful Crown Royal- Apple now…) with a puff of a sikaleti — it’s that stress reliever that my generation grew up with.

In fact, I’ve got some great memories growing up here in the Territory — drinking cases of beer and sharing endless ciggies with friends and crazies under fau trees at the Pala Lagoon or Airport area, which involved a lot of singing, laughter and throwing up.

Many of my friends have since passed away from health issues that range from alcoholism, high blood pressure, heart conditions, sugar diabetes, and the list goes on… our stress relievers we are now told are SINS or causes of NCDs that are killing us before our time — nicotine, alcohol, and sugar.

To wit, I have no problem with the proposed new way of calculating the excise tax on beer — it would calculate the tax based on volume, not invoice value, which as GHC Reid says — definitely will level the playing field. It will not matter, what kind of beer you buy, only the size of the bottle or can… In this case, I guess — size does matter… GONG!

In fact, I have no beef at all with the SIN taxes, because obviously I no longer over indulge, and as the Deputy Treasurer for Revenue, Keith Gebauer said during a House hearing on the issue, “…the primary driver behind the change [in the beer tax] …[is] the standardizing on how we apply the excise tax.”

I’m all for being fair…

And then Rep. Fagaoatua Dorian Salave’a commented, in the same hearing, that those affected in the end are the consumers.

He asked, "What is affordable for our consumers? If we make this change, will there be an affordable beer? The ‘value’ beer would then become almost the same as the ‘premier’ beer, which is more expensive.”

Referring to the affordable [value] beer, Fagaoatua asked, "Will that be available for our consumers?”

Gebauer responded, “In our analysis we did not want to single out a specific beer and we did not want to single out a specific company.” As a whole, he continued, "What we collect is the same."

In other words, the money is the same — and that’s really all they’re interested in achieving.

And, I have no problem with that — after all we are talking about a government tax levied to support itself and by God — if nothing else — it will be fairly done!

However, I find Fagaoatua’s questions to be extremely significant to the issue at hand, because it brings to mind something I was told by one of my professors in college — so long ago, I can’t even remember his or her name —but it was about the social-political role that beer & cigarettes can play in society. It goes something like this:

People who live in poverty need an outlet to drown their sorrows — that’s what religion and cheap beer & cigarettes are all about. If you (the government) can keep the people blissfully ‘happy’ then they will be less inclined to rise up and overthrow the powers that be, despite corruption and oppression.

If this is true, I would say American Samoa is heading towards some tumultuous times — a lot of the people are now sober and in a bad mood … GONG!

I’ll drink to that …

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