Sunday, August 16, 2009

Paradise is not a Permanent State of Entitlement

When I returned to Hawaii in 1998 after living 30 years on the mainland, it was because because of the Asian currency crisis and Hawaii's fortunes tied to it -- that Hawaii was actually undervalued relative to the hot economies (tech boom) elsewhere.

Hawaii stayed depressed until President Bush's response to terrorism put an end to the climate of fear and terrorism overhanging the world. Up to that time, people could not fly on planes without the thought that it could be hijacked, and that was also true for cruise ships, and foreign travel.

Once that fear was eliminated, Hawaii started to boom again, and because there is no real economic activity but tourism, federal grants and real estate speculation, those fundamental costs skyrocketed to where a quality of life is unaffordable for many.

The logical choice is to move back to areas that are now undervalued, where even people on nominal incomes, can live decent lives.

Meanwhile, many of the "homeless" in the Islands actually have fixed incomes but since the lowest rents would consume it entirely, they figure they might as well be homeless and afford everything else, or pay rent and have no money for anything else -- but what would be the point?

So life has changed greatly, while many in Hawaii, are used to, and think life never changes -- but always stays the same, as life in paradise should.

But paradise is where one finds quality of life that one can afford, as a fully valued member of that community, and not as the increasingly many dispossessed.

That's a great problem that no matter how many public opinion studies the state underwrites, people eventually awaken to the reality of -- and most have to do something drastic about it and move.

But that doesn't mean that those who remain are the winners. They may in fact be the losers because they pay dearly for everything, and notice they fall even further behind -- because a few with strong unions can "afford" to pay the now higher costs.

They must justify and rationalize that it is the only place worth living -- despite paying four times more for everything -- because every time they raise the GET tax, everybody else has to make that adjustment as a multiplier, and not just one retailer adding it on at the end.

That's why Hawaii is the only state with an excise tax on everything -- multiplying the cost of living, and the lawmakers and public service worker unions only solution, is to raise the GET tax a little more, because people won't notice.

But the difference now is not 2-4% more, but 2-4 TIMES more, and so, in every forum in the land, people complain incessantly and rightfully, that the cost for everything is escalating out of control.

And the only solution the lawmakers and public worker unions suggest, is to raise the GET tax so they won't have to "sacrifice."


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