A $6 Billion Plan for Hawaii’s Long-term Prosperity

Panos Prevedouros, PHD
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BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – Dr. Martin Wachs recently wrote an important article on public investment for transportation and jobs. (“UCLA/RAND Expert on Transportation, Jobs and Economic Growth”.)

Wachs observed that Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, rural and urban elected officials—all seek funding for roads and transit projects in their districts, asserting repeatedly that these expenditures will create jobs. He correctly asserts that construction jobs do not inherently have higher economic impact than other new jobs. Construction may generate construction jobs but it also is a huge cost item in and of itself and puts a lot of stress on city and state budgets. (All states except North Dacota have deficits.) Finally Wachs says that a shovel-ready project in no way assures that it will have long-term net economic benefits.


Given Wachs’ sound, detailed and impartial assessment, you now can make your own decision between Plan A and Plan B. For about six billion dollars you can choose either A or B defined as follows.

Plan A

  • Mufi Hannemann’s 20 mile, 21 station elevated heavy rail with 3 park-and-ride facilities and no power plant. All of it is a taxpayer subsidized project.

Plan B

  • 11 miles of reversible HOT lanes that will improve the Central Oahu-to-town tidal traffic problem by over 30%.
  • 3 Superferry vessels to connect our islands and provide a resiliency backbone when an island is hit by a disaster.
  • A small Hawaii-based international airline with roundtrips to Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka, Moscow, Dubai, Singapore, Sao Paolo and Frankfurt, e.g., Aloha Worldwide.
  • A coal power-plant that will reduce Oahu’s oil dependency by 15%.

All these can be done as incentivized private projects, or public-private partnerships.

Which plan is best for Hawaii’s long term economic prosperity and which one is best for short term political pork?

You know that the correct answer is Plan B.  Why are about 75% of Hawaii’s politicians choosing Plan A?

Because they care about themselves, because doing the same thing again and again is less work, and because they are told what to do by special interests (their party, big money supporters, and unions.)





  1. As long as Hawaii relies primarily on tourism, it’ll be dependent on the fortunes of the rest of the country and other countries for its prosperity. Like Greece, Hawaii doesn’t really produce anything, thus can’t earn its way out of recession into prosperity.

    The US lost much of its manufacturing capabilities and capacity to China and others overseas. Hence, it’s having a hell of a time getting out of its recession. China apparently has no such problem.

    • Hawaii is VERY dependent… it produces VERY little given its population and it is thousands of miles from all resources. Greece is another story. It has enough agriculture to feed its 11 million people and another 50 million in Europe. It has oil, it has coal, it has wind ans waves and it has the second largest merchant marine fleet in the world. But greedy politicians, stupid policies, communist unions and unruly population have been doing their best to undermine Greece’s potential to excel. Greeks excel anywhere in the world except for Greece. They are great business people, professionals and politicians from Nairobi, Kenya to Chicago, Illinois, to Melbourne, Australia and Honoluulu, Hawaii.

  2. Panos you make too much sense, that’s why it will never fly. They are HELL bent on a train to nowhere.

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