- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009



Your story indicating that American Samoa is per capita the top recipient of federal stimulus funds suggests we might be less deserving than others are (“States in need not first in line,” Page 1, April 24). However, per-capita comparisons are misleading. That American Samoa, the District, the Virgin Islands, Rhode Island, Vermont and North Dakota are all at the top of the list suggests a skewing of statistics, since by population we are among the country’s smallest jurisdictions.

If Congress were to provide funding for an ambulance, for example, that vehicle might serve a half-million people in a major city but only a fraction of that number in a small state or territory. No matter how many people were served, the ambulance would cost the same. You can’t give a full ambulance to Los Angeles but only part of one to American Samoa.

Remember that 51 votes are needed for a bill to pass the Senate and that Rhode Island, Vermont and North Dakota have just as many senators as do New York, California and Texas. Moreover, most of what we receive is calculated by formulas that ensure that every jurisdiction receives a minimum of something. So, if there were to be ambulances funded, we would be assured of getting one.

While it may make our congressional delegate feel good to shake his fist at The Washington Times and remind you of how much blood we have spilled defending our country, I am more concerned that we take the time to educate government leaders on why such analyses are flawed.

For these reasons, I would not have touted our ranking in the first place, particularly since we did nothing to achieve it other than to be small. Bragging only invites unwarranted attention and reinforces the biases of those who prefer that we receive no funding at all.


Pago Pago, American Samoa

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