I’ll borrow here from the old KGMB-TV theme song, with a slight change: “One of the NOT good things about Hawaii” has been its all-eggs-in-three-baskets approach to economic well being, and a stultified political class (Democrats) that resisted change where it interfered with the visions of union leaders.
Quite a mouthful, yeah?
So I momentarily got excited when I got the news release about Gov. Ige appointing Alan Oshima to lead our eventual economic recovery after COVID-19 expires or at least runs into antibody resistance.
And the governor set out one of Oshima’s tasks as “re-evaluate and restructure Hawaiʻi’s economy to meet the new normal and desired future for Hawaiʻi. Identify and invest in systemic changes in the economy and society which furthers economic diversification, environmental preservation, sustainability and Hawaiʻi’s values and way of life.”
We should hope!
Our economy is tourism and the military and the salaries of our huge body of public employees. The first is subject to disruption by terrorism and viral/bacterial disease such as COVID-19 and Legionnaires Disease. The second can disappear overnight if our soldiers, Marines and Air Force units are called out for an international crisis. The third you don’t touch.
We long ago snubbed the opportunity to have a rocket launching facility at South Point on Hawaii Island. We’ve done our best to run the TMT people out of town. Our technology development is next to zero. A large proportion of our people work for around $10-$12 an hour or tips, and aren’t guaranteed full-time employment with medical coverage.
So resiliency, Alan Oshima’s Part III task, is not us by nature.
The governor says everyone will have input. I expect the biggest input to be, as it always is, from the government employee unions making sure their members get first dibs on the pot of federal recovery money.
Whether Oshima will bother looking at our suffocating regulatory system that stymies small business we don’t know. You tamper with the favorites of the Democratic State Legislature at great risk. That’s where regulation resides.
We can recover to where we were, with time, but where we were is insufficient and dangerously exposed to things beyond our control.
We’re like an amateur investor putting all his money on high-flying stocks and saying “I’ll either be a billionaire or I’ll be broke, and I love the anticipation.”
No, Alan Oshima won’t lead us into the land of milk and honey. That’s a political task, not one of those fixes Oshima could impose when he led Hawaiian Electric.
He’ll quickly be up against those who like the nests they’ve made, not newfangled ones by a guy who’s not even been in the union!
Tell me if I’m wrong.