THE CON CON CON
HAWAII POWERS THAT BE LIE ABOUT CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
COSTS & RISKS EXAGGERATED, BENEFITS & NEEDS DENIED
Those With Cushy Positions In Business & Government Don't Want ANY Change, Ever, So VOTE YES ON CON-CON
Those without cushy positions can only benefit by change. It's a no-brainer in this big Obama "CHANGE" campaign. But somehow, the local Democrats, who control everything in the Aloha State, don't think that message applies here. They're wrong. Here's where we need change, which will NEVER come from them, and that's why we need a new Con Con:
I. THE COST OF LIVING, ETC.
Ever hear a local politician talk about this? Ever see one do anything about it? Hawaii is uniquely capable of making changes to its' own cost of living, and the local government has tremendous powers to effect change. But that would be rocking their own boat, for the benefit of the rest of us, about whom they don't give a sh*t. If they did, they'd do all this:
1. Repeal Or Get An Exemption From The Jones Act:
That's the Federal Law that says only US-flagged ships can carry cargo between US ports. It was originally meant to protect US shipping, and preserve the domestic commercial fleet. But all that is dying now, and Hawaii never had much effect on it anyway. If the many foreign-flagged ships that are now traversing our waters empty, or half-empty on their way back to their home ports from the Mainland could pick up loads there and drop them off here, that "15%" that Matson & Horizon say is all they add to the price of EVERYTHING might be cut by half, or more.
2. Lease Or Sell All Non-Essential Government Owned Or Controlled Lands
The City, State and Federal governments control an unheard-of 30% of all the land in Hawaii. Private trusts and big land-owners control another 10% or more. Forty per cent of all of our land is permanently off the market. That's part of the reason that real estate sales prices and rents for homes and businesses are so bloody high. If the government got its huge, unproductive ass off all that land, it would provide an immediate and permanent boost to the local economy. The land could be designated for high-employment businesses and lower-middle-class housing, and bring down prices to affordable levels. That would benefit everybody.
3. Stop Pyramiding The Excise Tax
Businesses and consumers can end up paying 16% in "sales" taxes or more for locally-produced products. All you see is the tip of the iceberg: The last 4.712% at the cash register. But locally grown, processed, warehoused, and retailed goods can be taxed at each step in the production & marketing process. That's why Mainland and even Japanese-imported goods can be so much cheaper than local products, since they only pay the tax once. Local businesses could be more productive and local consumers could save money if they were only taxed once, at the register. Pyramiding should be stopped, and food, medicine, housing and small independent contractors' salaries should be exempted.
4. Settle With The Hawaiians, Once And For All
Uncertainty about Hawaiian Sovereignty is hurting local workers and business-owners by discouraging investment here. Nobody wants to take a chance on such a large unknown factor. The State has had several opportunities in the recent past to come to an equitable settlement: Large portions of Lanai and Molokai have been bought and sold by foreign and Mainland investors, while the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the State government, and the various trusts and sovereignty groups stood by and did nothing, while native Hawaiians went homeless. Land that should have gone to the Hawaiian people in exchange for other lands and revenue the State needed instead was lost. The State should make an absolute commitment to take advantage of any & all such opportunities, and start negotiating seriously for a fair and equitable settlement of all claims with the kanaka maole. Everyone will benefit from it, not to mention the aloha.
5. Reduce The City & State Government Work Force Through Attrition By 50%
One third of Hawaii's workers are employed by the City, State or Federal government. That means that every working couple is carrying an unproductive civil servant on their shoulders. Instead of working at jobs that would stimulate the economy, civil servants are simply draining blood from it. They produce nothing, they only consume. The perpetual motion machine that keeps politicians in office in exchange for providing unproductive jobs for some of the people who then vote for them is in fact powered by the rest of us. We cannot afford it any more, and neither can our economy. Nobody has to be laid off, but no one else should be hired until the government payroll is reduced to 15% of our total workforce through retirements. The slow pace of a hiring freeze will soften any ill effects, and the savings should be returned to the taxpayers.
6. Put Some Teeth In Worker, Consumer And Tenant Protections
Hawaii claims to be a liberal State, but in comparison with truly liberal States like NY and CA, we have no protection at all for workers, consumers or tenants. The help-wanted ads have been full of scams here for years. Hard-working people are ripped off by them every day, with no recourse. Consumers are overcharged and kept in the dark as to pricing, ingredients, warranties, and basic rights. Again, there is no recourse. Tenants are evicted every day after withholding rent from abusive landlords for substandard housing: Often evictions happen without due process, sometimes by the police without a warrant. Family Court TRO's have been used fraudulently to evict tenants without even a hearing in advance. They have no recourse, and many end up homeless. In States like NY and CA, government Consumer Protection advocates, Tenants Rights advocates, and Workers Rights advocates defend the rights of citizens, along with the State Attorney General. Here, we pay them, but they do nothing: They can't. The laws are toothless, and anti-labor, anti-consumer, anti-tenant; grossly unfairly so. They must be changed, reoriented and strengthened, with teeth for enforcement.
7. Shift The Tax Burden Onto The Rich, Tourists & Mainland & Foreign Businesses
Right now the local government funds itself mainly out of the pockets of hard-working local middle-class taxpayers. The pyramided State excise tax, the exorbitant State income tax, the ever-increasing State & City fees and charges, and the City property taxes, especially on small businesses and condominiums, fall most heavily on those least able to afford them. Instead, they should fall on those best able to afford them: The rich and the tourists, the Mainland and foreign corporations. They can easily absorb a little more in taxes for all the benefits we are providing, and the rest of us desperately need a break.
8. Streamline The Process Off Setting Up A Small Business, Cut Fees & Taxes For Start-Ups That Provide Jobs For Locals
The State demands so much up-front from new business owners that many are unable to even get started. Hundreds of dollars in filing and license fees are required before a business even makes a dime. Then the State is back again right away with its hand out and a big gun if you don't pay. Let the State wait at least a year or two before requiring any big payoffs. Give fledgling small businesses a chance to make it, and start spreading the wealth, before the State demands a cut. We need more jobs and cheaper local products.
9. Stop Feeding Politicians & Bureaucrats Unproductive Cronies' Businesses
On the rare occasions that local government does offer some aid to businesses, it either goes to some giant Mainland or foreign corporation, or some well-connected local freeloader. Somehow, jobs promised never materialize, and sweetheart deals never go away. Preference should be given to small locally-owned & operated businesses that are NOT connected to the rich & powerful. That's where most jobs originate. And those small independents always give us local consumers the best deals.
10. Legalize Shipboard Gambling
Hawaii is the only State in the Union with no gambling of any kind allowed. Well, except for Utah; so you know who is behind this: The minority Mormon Church, with it's disproportionate financial clout and long, blue nose. That, and the Vegas operators who don't want to lose our business, or any business we might generate here. They regularly buy our local politicians with free casino junkets, and this is why. If we are ever to have any hope of attracting our share of the emerging & gigantic Chinese tourist market, we must offer gambling: It's their number one vice. Having it here would make us the closest gambling spot in the US to everywhere in Asia. And it couldn't hurt us with jaded East-Coasters and Europeans. Locals could be kept off the boats in the same way that they are kept out of duty-free shops. There is no downside. We need to do this. A deal might be negotiated with Native Hawaiians to own and or operate the casinos, in exchange for a settlement of their claims against the State. It would provide jobs, income, and tax-relief. Why aren't we doing it already?
Still think we don't need a Constitutional Convention? Why do you think no local politician ever talks about any of this stuff? Why should they rock their own comfy boat? They never will. That's why we need a People's Con-Con. Now. And that's why they're against it.
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