One has to understand the big picture to really see what is going on. A consortium of socialist groups is slowly destroying this state in the name of their ideology. The facts speak for themselves.

First, get a good grip on that big picture. All the Waikiki theaters, even Imax, are now gone. McInerney is gone. JC Pennys pulled up stakes and left. Any number of businesses are bankrupt and gone. Bankruptcies are at an all time high. And over a five year period from 1995 to 2000 census figures show that a net 76,133 Hawaiian residents have also gone.

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One has to ask why. The reason is because competing groups in this state myopically only want to benefit themselves at the expense everyone else, without any concern for the fiscal realities. They use the agency of government to enforce their claims against the rest of us, for their benefit. There is no better example of this than the threatened City bus drivers’ strike.

The City of Honolulu is broke. We all need to wake up to that reality. It is only because the city commands a monopoly that the Teamsters Union can run this scam. In the face of this city’s financial realities, the union’s demand is irresponsible. All the rest of the residents of Oahu are supposed to sacrifice, the poorest and most unfortunate in particular who mostly pay bus fares, to aggrandize the pocketbooks and pension packages of the group that encompasses the bus drivers. All made possible thru the agency of government. This is classic socialism.

This is the basis of what socialism is and what it does best: It pits one group against another. Here we have bus drivers against the public, seniors against students, frequent riders with monthly passes against regular fare riders. And they all complain vehemently that any sacrifice on their part is unfair. Well it is, that’s what comes from socialism. To be equally fair to everyone is to be fair to no one. Every advantage for one group has to come at the expense of someone else.

The bus drivers are willing to penalize tens of thousands of others for their own narrow concerns. What we are talking about here is a few dollars this way or that compared to the crashing of a state economy for weeks or months and inconveniencing thousands of others. You wouldn’t know this by the bus drivers’ arguments’ though:

“Because the company wants to take away so many things, we have to go on strike.”

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This is one of the glaring absurdities in this situation. The company doesn’t — want — to do anything. It is a private company subsidized by the city, given a monopoly charter by the city, yet is not ultimately responsible for fares, subsidies or income. This is simply a matter of numbers, what is fiscally responsible and what isn’t. This is the responsibility of the city council and the mayor. No wonder this whole thing is a mess. There is no real accountability with a setup such as this. Everyone can blame everybody else. And they do.

The current situation is just a macrocosm of what is going wrong in this state. The figures don’t lie. The people are being taxed to the point that they are choosing to leave in greater numbers than they move here. Businesses from airlines to department stores that have been here for generations are bankrupt.

The state is clearly mismanaged and yet the call is for business as usual. Witness the obstruction Gov. Lingle had when trying to reverse or modify clearly detrimental policies, such as Act 221. When is everyone going to wake up to the fact that business as usual is slowly driving the City of Honolulu and the state to bankruptcy as well? This simply cannot continue.

A clear example of the kind of mentality that some of our legislators have that has lead us to this pass is exemplified by a statement by Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kauai, during the debate on the failed GET increase:

“Yes it will raise the cost of living, but businesses will not flee our shores and the economy will improve just like it always does. I wish we were not raising taxes, but the alternatives are worse.”

He is so nonchalant about raising the cost of living for Hawaii’s residents, just as the Teamsters are in their own bailiwick. As long as their particular group is aggrandized, the effect upon everyone else is ignored. The facts are clearly otherwise. As I noted at the beginning of this article many businesses have fled our shores or gone bankrupt, as have a large number of the populace. The economy doesn’t always improve and a greater number of people are experiencing hardship than before. Many of our lawmakers are clearly in denial. This state is slowly sinking into the sunset.

The alternatives are not worse, they are better. Lowering taxes and bringing businesses and people back to Hawaii would be better. Foregoing a strike right now would be better for everyone overall. The bus drivers are not going to starve in the meantime.

Increasing the cost for TheBus is a hardship for the very people who rely upon it the most. That the bus drivers and the Teamster’s Union have no concern for those people who would have to foot the bill for their pay raise is precisely the pitting of benefits for one group against the whole or another group of people that socialism thrives on.

This is just a symptom of a far larger problem though. It is complete refusal to compromise in the face of fiscal reality, putting socialist ideals ahead of economic reality. This is the real problem that Hawaii, and our nation as a whole for that matter, currently faces.

Looking at the travails in California presages what we can expect for the future of Hawaii if the mentality of pitching one group against another or the rest of society in general doesn’t stop. Until we realize that government cannot provide all things to all people we will continue to sink.

There has been much made of the loss in tax revenue that has led to the current fiscal crisis, on the state and local levels. Now stop and think about how many taxes were lost because the state lost 76,133 taxpayers in 5 years. Think of the loss in tax revenue because of all the companies that have left or gone bankrupt in the last 2 years. Is it any wonder that there is less tax revenue? When will the people of Hawaii see the obvious truth?

Just as in California, people and businesses are fleeing the state due to the unreasonable tax burden required to fund a plethora of programs and functions that should be left to the private sector. Hawaii’s economy isn’t going to “improve like it always has” because it hasn’t always improved, in the last decade hardly at all. It is going to muddle along like it always has until our legislators wake up and realize they are slowly taxing this state into oblivion.

The bus drivers will eventually win their strike. They won’t gain as much as they think they will though because they will, in the process, weaken the state as a whole. It will increase the cost of living upon many and many more people will leave the state as a result. It will contribute to a downward spiral that will increase the chances of recession in this state. The loss of jobs and benefits will be inevitable, union contract or no union contract. It is only a matter of whom. Such is the ultimate result of socialism.

”’Don Newman, a free-lance writer living in Honolulu, can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:newmand001@hawaii.rr.com

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