Daniel De Gracia
Daniel De Gracia


One of Hawaii’s greatest blessings is the fact that it is a hub for people and cultures from all around the world. As a third generation Filipino-American, I am very thankful that my grandparents were able to immigrate to Hawaii in the early 1900s and pave the way for a prosperous future through commitment to personal vision, faith in God and hard work. Because of that very reason, I think it is unnecessary to attach a racial element to advocate matters such as Honolulu’s rail project for the sheer fact that it is a matter of public fiscal policy. We should continue to have a fervent debate over rail but one that is based on facts, not emotionalism or racial overtones.

This being said, it is my personal hope that both the Honolulu City Council and the Hawaii State Legislature will consider the fact that the long-term stability of the U.S. dollar is very much in question amidst the on-going global financial crisis. We need to go beyond insular, small special interest thinking and plan strategically for our future.

Part of the reason that things are becoming so expensive for consumers, businesses and state governments alike is that low interest rates have sparked monetary expansion and inflation. Over the next few months, food prices are expected to rise by 3.5 percent and with Washington, D.C. pursuing such a hard line stance on Middle Eastern and Southwest Central Asian nations, the cost of energy should be expected to be extremely volatile over the long term as well.

It would be irresponsible, even arrogant during this time of economic and geo-political turmoil to commit taxpayers to long-term, big ticket projects such as the Honolulu rail project—whether the taxpayers involved are local or from other states like Texas where federal dollars are exported out of state to subsidize our so-called infrastructure with matching federal funds.

Now is a time that we need all people, not just Filipinos, to think about more than just themselves but all of their fellow Americans. We are witnessing the implosion of the world’s greatest democracy and all some people can fixate on is more public spending, more credit, more taxation, more cartelization and monopoly given to corporations through laws passed by our legislators.

We need to cut taxes, cut government spending, increase savings and increase private production—especially production from small business—to save the economy and our future. The only way we can do that is with less government projects, not more because every public tax dollar spent on rail is a dollar taken out of the national and local economy that could have been spent by private individuals.

We will either save our state and nation together or lose it separately through our manic obsession with government redistribution of wealth. It’s time for a new way of thinking and a fresh approach to how we look at public policy and economics.

This article originally appeared in the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. Danny de Gracia, II is a political scientist, economist and a national columnist. He lives in Waipahu.