The Politics of Potholes

Pol Pothole's picture


Pol Pothole


Potholes piss me off for more reasons than because they wreck my car. Potholes also remind me that the government can “just not get around to” fixing the roads, but I’m not allowed that same luxury when it comes to paying my taxes.

There’s this story I heard, and I’m not sure whether it’s fact or fiction. The story is that the American Samoa Government receives federal highway funds. How much do we get, fifty cents? If we receive federal funds to keep our roads in good shape, then why are certain sections of our highway in such terrible shape?

The thing about our government is, if you were to just walk right up to, say, the governor, and just ask him, “Why are roads in such bad shape if we get money from the feds to keep them in good repair?”, that would be considered unspeakably rude. On the other hand, if a cop walks up to me and says, “Why aren’t you wearing your seat belt?” that’s perfectly ok.

What I’m getting at is, if I keep up my end of the bargain by paying my taxes and obeying the law, why can’t the government keep up their end by making sure our roads are safe? I would like to see the governor take his own car for a drive from Utulei to Leone once a week, especially during rainy weeks.

Assuming that we do in fact get federal highway funds, where is this money going? If it’s being used for any purpose other than fixing the roads, then isn’t the local government breaking some kind of federal law? If we had a government that was corrupt but still made sure we had low taxes, easily available health care, good schools, and safe roads, then I’d tell myself they may have a strange way of getting things done, but at least things get done. But what we have is a government that is both corrupt and can’t get things done.

The government is the biggest employer in American Samoa, but even with most of the manpower on Tutuila, they still can’t take care of the roads. Oh right, government employees are supposed to sit at desks and do important brain work, not undignified physical work like taking care of roads. So with all these employees sitting at desks doing such important brain work, why do we still have so many problems?

You would think that with so many great brains they would have solved every problem in American Samoa by now. These great brains must have much more important things than the condition of our roads to think about.

I cannot even imagine what these more important things are, given the generally lax state of anything the government is involved with, but these great brains sit in great heads that sit on great bodies that sit in great cars and drive the same roads I do every day, so I know they must notice the same things I do.  

Here’s another story I heard: we COULD get federal highway funds, but don’t because none of the engineers in the local government are certified to do road repairs. Considering the obvious need for road repairs, isn’t it mind-boggling that our government hasn’t hired someone qualified to do them, which would also get us free money to do them?

The government would probably say, “We’re saving the taxpayer money by doing the repairs ourselves”. No, you’re not saving the taxpayer money, you’re forcing the taxpayer to pay more in car repairs thanks to your so-called repairs. Moreover, how can you justify hiring so many people who still can’t make the government run right, but not hiring one or two people qualified to keep our roads in shape?

This is not a situation talked about in our news media. Even the latest gang of wannabes running for governor hasn’t mentioned this. (Maybe they ride horses?) We’re all too polite to make much of a fuss about this, even while we’re having our cars towed to the repair shop.

Could it be our potholes are indicative of a bigger problem, such as too many employees doing not enough work? I don’t care what kind of b.s. the latest bunch of candidates for governor come up with – I will vote for the ones who promise to fix the roads


This is more than potholes

itsonlyme's picture
People just don't understand that the holes in the road are not your normal potholes. The roads are obstacle courses of water filled holes everywhere. These holes are deep. The water makes it impossible to tell how deep. Sometimes you have to chose between hitting one or the other and you cannot make a choice because you can't tell which is worse. It is virtually impossible to miss all the holes. So, you bounce along hoping your car will hold up. Many cars do not hold up. Repair costs are huge. This is much worse than overseas readers can imagine. If they cannot fix these destroyed paved roads, then just take away the pavement and replace it with gravel. Can you believe conditions were better in the old days when there were no paved roads? The people of American Samoa need to speak out and force some action on this situation. I wish I had pictures to post with this comment. Does anyone have pictures?