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Dear Editor,

The letter to the editor by Dr. Toafa (“Bias News?” dated 7/10), aims to taint reporting about the COVID-19 payouts to legislators by suggesting bias in the media, but his arguments rely on really shaky grounds.  For one, if media bias were excuse enough to dismiss a controversy, then Trump would definitely be having an easier time in office. It is the deed that is the center of the matter, not the circumstances surrounding its revelation.

But what’s especially weak is his assertion that since both the Executive and Judiciary already have their hands in the cookie jar, the Legislature might as well get in on the action too. To be fair, the author says that all of this sharing between the three branches is okay as long as they spend it within the “specifications authorized under the COVID-19 Stimulus”.

Now whether the COVID-19 payouts to legislators are within such specifications, we'll find out soon enough thanks to Mr. Hueter’s complaint filed with the U.S Treasury.

But whether these payouts to public officials with really no guarantee of accountability or liability are ethical and in line with proper stewardship of taxpayer money is a question for us voters, not regulators at the Treasury.  And I submit to you that your standard-issue 5th grader will tell you that the answer to that question is ‘no’.

That is the matter that’s before the court of public opinion. And it is worthy of discussion, debate and even protest… and I’d be quite ashamed of our growth as a self-governing democracy if we didn’t make as much fuss about these payouts as we have… bias or not.

If one needs a guidepost for how government should operate on sound ethical principles, they should look at what Reagan once said of the economy — that it should be a rising tide that lifts all boats.

By that standard, these COVID-19 payouts don’t look to serve the overall public good or our general welfare. Instead, they go on to reflect a government that picks winners and losers, a government run by those on the inside track versus those on the out, a government of the malosi vs. the vaivai.

These COVID-19 payouts may be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things and the controversy may blow over like every other, but they’re not representative of the type of governance most of us would like to see for our future generations, and they’re an insult to the heritage left to us by those who came before us.

That is not bias, that is righteous indignation.

Talifaitasi Satele