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Tonga still amazes me


Leaving the comfort of my poor upbringing at Foa for a new land, I am still amazed at many things that have not changed.

The Royals…’ friends still bring their goods thru customs and don…’t even pay a penny. In my new country, it is called fraud. In Tonga it is called …“Friends of the Royals…”.

I am also amazed at how taxes are raised without any input from the public. Of course, no matter how deceitful, stupid, ineffective, and criminal leaders act, the accepted wisdom within the government seems to be workers should be more cooperative, work harder, take pay cuts, pension cuts, benefit cuts, and smile.

Sefita Tangi, the Tax Commissioner, said, “ko e tukuhau lelei eni he…’e holo ai e koloa ‘o toe ma’ama’a ange. ‘Ikai ko ia pe foki ka ‘oku ‘ikai ke mafasia tokotaha pe ha fa…’ahinga hono totongi ‘a e tukuhau ni ka ‘oku totongi tukuhau tatau ‘a e tokotaha kotoa pea ‘oku ma’ama’a leva ai e kavenga.”

From my 4th grade education at GPS Fotua, what consumers pay, are to compensate businesses for their overheads, operational, profit, and now tax costs. Suppose a bottle of snake oil is bought for $3.00 in New Zealand. For freight, customs and duties, an additional $2.00 is added to the cost of the item. Lord knows I can…’t put the Crown Prince…’s name on this item for a pass in customs. Now, I want a 15% profit for my effort. The item now costs $5.75. Now, another 15% is added for consumption tax. The item is now $6.50 for Joe Public. Am I missing something? Without the tax, the item costs $5.75. When is $6.50 cheaper than $5.75? I am wondering if Tonga is run by over paid, incompetent frauds who are served by hacks passing as civil servants. The hacks rely on cronies to do their thinking for them and the cronies always have the same advice: Make workers pay.

Mr Tangi’s argument is like a crossed-eyed sniper. He doesn’t win many accuracy contests but sure keeps the crowd’s attention.

“God and Tonga are my heritage”, remember that phrase? My friends, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This phrase may not apply to you. If Tonga was your heritage, you’d do whatever you want like the royals and their friends do. Also, If you do whatever you want to do in God’s kingdom, he will tell you to go to hell. As religious as we all like to be called, we fail to recognize people like Mr. Tangi never dream of robbing their neighbors at gunpoint, but find it acceptable to have a government do the dirty work. On the same note, If I were to put a gun to your head and demand your money, you’d call me, my father, and my mother names, and continue to tell me the bad things you are going to do to my sister. But if I were to do it in the name of our government, Mr Tangi will call it …“fakama’ama’a kavenga.” This, I am amazed.

It seems our government has institutionalized irresponsibility. It consistently finds quacks to manage and loose millions of dollars and its investments, creating income that are never accounted for, and bring in so-called experts to pick their, oops! your pockets.

Juan de Mariana once said, - “Taxes are commonly a calamity for the people and a nightmare for the government. For the former they are always excessive; for the latter they are never enough, never too much.”

This reminds me of a quote by the Drunken Irish economist on U.S. monetary policy (in 2003) - “This is all a load of malarkey y’re handing us. And y’know it. For everything y’say…y’say just the opposite a minute later. Y’don’t know what y’re doin. And now all the saints in heaven can’t save you. You’ll roast in hell, all of you. And y’deserve it, y’do.”

Tonga, No, I am no longer amazed. I am sorry that you are being put through this.

Tama Foa

tevita [dot] u [dot] langi [at] us [dot] army [dot] mil