The problem for socialist liberals is that they refute their own policies without meaning to do so. A recent report by the University of Washington is a case in point.
The report states that the “bare-minimum costs” for living in Hawaii are three times that of the federal standard for poverty. The intent of the study is clearly to justify further wealth redistribution in the form of social programs on the part of government but has real implications for the current legislative session. To quote KITV’s HawaiiChannel.com, “The goal of the study is to help state policy makers to be more realistic when trying to lift Hawaii families out of poverty.”
And there is the following from the HonoluluAdvertiser article on the same report, “To bridge that gap, the report recommends opening access to job training and education, subsidized child care, housing, health care and food stamps to low-wage workers.” In other words, increase socialist programs and welfare spending.
Thus the report says it costs a family of three over $50,000 to meet its basic needs while the federal poverty level for the same family is a mere $17,550. It seeks to bolster the justification for the aforementioned increased subsidies for the poor on the basis of this disparity. But there is another conclusion that can be drawn. Every penny taken in taxes is that much less for meeting the “bare-minimum” costs of living in this state. In this case, it is robbing Paul to give back to Paul. It simply makes no sense.
According to the report a single adult would need to earn $10.71 an hour to be self-sufficient, second only to San Francisco. That means a single person would have to make over $22,000 a year just to meet the “bare-minimum.’ One wonders how much of this goes for taxes, but with the tax structure in this state it must be considerable.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Our Democrat-controlled Legislature is considering increasing every tax and fee possible, in the face of a cost of living that is three times the federal poverty guidelines. They are going to intentionally increase that poverty by taking even more of individual income in the form of increased taxes.
The increases in the General Excise Tax, the misnamed Long-Term-Care Tax, the proposed City Sales Tax authority, the increase in the Motor Vehicle Registration Fees, and the plethora of other fee increases are all considered to be regressive taxes. This means that the poorer one is, the more punishing these taxes are and the more they will impoverish precisely those who can least afford it. In addition, it will increase the cost of living in a city and state where that cost of living is already prohibitive, as documented by a socialist liberal study.
The fact that the cost of living is documented to be so high in Hawaii should, for any logical person, preclude any further tax increases as being detrimental to the poorest, most unfortunate among us. In their quest to pander to the poor the Democrat majority in this state’s Legislature would do real damage to the livelihood of the very constituency they claim to intend to help. Every tax increase now being considered will take money out of pockets of those very people that other socialists have documented as being below the poverty line and already struggling to merely survive. This whole scenario is clearly self contradictory.
It is time to point out the Democrat majority assertions that these tax increases are for the benefit of the people of Hawaii is false. They are not. They simply cannot be. The cost of living here is so high already that any and every tax increase is going to be far more punitive to the general population than any possible benefit.
Even with the income tax deduction, which was reported to have been reduced from the $100 originally proposed to $80 when finally passed by the Senate, the cost to the individual by the GET, the General Excise Tax, will never be offset by this deduction. The hidden wholesale costs of the GET means that most people will never see the tax increase that actually comes directly out of their pocket. They will just notice prices will increase for everything they buy and it will get harder to make ends meet. The GET will tax far more than just the 4.5 percent they pay retail at the counter. It is truly a highly sophisticated shell game.
The stated reason for the increase in GET is to increase funding for schools. If that is the case then why isn’t the whole $180 million being allocated to the schools instead of only $120 million, with the remaining $60 million going into the general fund? This is plainly disingenuous. It is transparent misdirection. It is simply a tax increase, plain and simple.
In the face of this study these tax increases are clearly ill considered. One has to ask to what degree the high cost of living documented is directly due to the current GET and high tax policies with which the Democrat majority has already saddled this state. When is one of the socialist liberal university studies going to get around to exploring this question? The answer is never, the truth is too terrible to contemplate.
To return to the final line of the KITV article, “The goal of the study is to help state policy makers to be more realistic when trying to lift Hawaii families out of poverty.” What would be the most realistic thing to do to lift Hawaii families out of poverty? Leave more money in their pockets instead of taxing it to fund one boondoggle after another. Don’t increase excise taxes, income taxes, bus passes, motor vehicle registrations, city taxes, and every other fee possible. Let the people keep the money they have worked so hard to earn.
Stop punishing businesses by taxing them to the point that it becomes a choice between paying those taxes or giving employees wage increases. Stop taxing everything that moves so that it becomes nearly impossible to successfully run a business in this state. Stop insisting that the only solution to the problems in this state is for government to spend ever increasing amounts of money.
Linda Lingle was elected governor on a platform pledge not to raise taxes. If these resolutions pass then she will have to veto them, although she has refused to say she that so far. If she does, the Democrats will scream bloody murder about her not caring about the poor, not caring about education, not caring about the needs of the state. They will scream about cuts that are, in fact, not cuts but reductions in spending increases. Mostly they will just scream.
If she doesn’t veto these proposals then she will be regaled as a hypocrite who can’t keep her campaign pledges, who couldn’t even honor her own platform. What the Democrats are attempting to do is set up a scenario where they can attack Gov. Lingle no matter what she does, whichever path she takes she loses. That is what this is really all about, it is a cynical struggle for political power.
The best case scenario is also the worst case scenario. The Democrats pass these bills, Gov. Lingle vetoes them, and the Democrats override the vetoes. Taxes will go up, living here will become even more difficult, more people will leave in disgust, more people will go into slip into poverty, more businesses will go bankrupt or pull up anchor and leave altogether, and the general economic condition of the islands will deteriorate.
The connection between this economic deterioration and the Democrat Party’s insistence on increasing taxes will be inescapable. They will no longer be able to hoodwink the people into thinking it is due to anything other than their insistence upon implementing their socialist spending schemes. It will simply not be possible to take hundreds of millions of dollars out of this economy without doing great damage to it. And this time they won’t be able to escape the responsibility of causing that damage. It will be too obvious.
So the economy of Hawaii will sink. The Democrats will do irreparable damage to their party in the process and the state will move even further to the right, as it has demonstrated at tendency to do the last two election cycles. The harm on a personal scale will be terrible and it will take years to repair, this is worst case side. That the Democrats will weaken their party’s grip on the state even further in the process is the best case side. The cost will be documented by another socialist liberal study that won’t make the connection either, but will study the damage done by the very policies they once proposed.
Will anyone notice the irony?
”’Don Newman is a free-lance writer in Honolulu. He can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org