Funding Mass Transit-Shoots from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii – Jan. 21, 2005

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As predictable as the sun coming up in the morning, the upcoming legislative season is already gearing up for the obvious: tax increases. The Jan. 17, 2005 article in the ”’Honolulu Star-Bulletin”’ titled, “Traffic speeds onto agenda,” is a case in point. This article reveals a number of proposals that will probably be raised during the next legislative session that are nothing more than justifications for raising taxes.

Traffic congestion is going to be the leverage point upon which many legislators are going to push for such tax increases. As detailed in the ”’Honolulu Star-Bulletin”’ article, the options are most likely going to be two-fold: Either let the City Council raise the excise tax or create a transit authority that will have the power to levy new taxes. While the former would be awful enough, the latter would be truly horrendous.


The reason the latter is such a bad idea is that it would create an unrepresentative taxing authority. Portland, Oregon has exactly the same type of taxing authority called TriMet and it is a study in the waste of tax money. No matter what the people decide via referendums on the issues TriMet does exactly what it chooses anyway. None of their programs have resulted in a reduction of traffic congestion, to the contrary it has gotten much worse. This hasn’t affected the policy implementation of TriMet in the least, whose motto appears to be “tax and spend, tax and spend.”

Keeping these facts in mind, there is little doubt that such a taxing authority will not be passed by the current, Democrat dominated, legislature. The idea of creating a taxing authority that has no accountability to the people is a politician’s dream. It allows them to advocate tax increases without having to be directly responsible for them. The perfect scenario.

This type of thinking was furthered by local media in the opinion piece in the ”’Honolulu Star-Bulletin”’ dated January 18, 2005 titled “All government levels need to support rail system.” First of all, the advocated rail project is not, nor will it ever be a “system.” It is a single rail line designed to alleviate a government created traffic congestion problem. This island is too small to ever have a “system.”

The newly elected Honolulu mayor, Mufi Hannemann, has it right. By conducting city business in Kapolei at least once a week, he is leading the way to what will be the real solution to this problem — Following the original plan and conducting more business on the leeward coast. Reducing the reasons to commute, rather than providing other means to commute. Wasting tons of public money on another government boondoggle such as rail isn’t the solution. Creating jobs in the “second city” so that people don’t need to commute to prosper, is.

It is a sad truth that most of our elected government officials do not understand the underlying economics of their decisions. A multi-billion dollar rail system will take more out of the economy than it will ever contribute. It will always be a massive drain on the economy that will have to be heavily taxpayer-subsidized and will only benefit a tiny fraction of the population. Nowhere does rail transit serve more than 7 percent of a city’s given population. Even though the costs are borne by all.

The issue here isn’t really about transit alternatives. It is about hatred of the automobile. In the ”’Honolulu Star-Bulletin”’ opinion piece referenced above Representative Joe Souki is reported to have said that the main question is whether, “the community and the policy-makers have the will and courage to come up with negative incentives for owning cars.”

Note this, it isn’t about creating alternative modes of transportation, as is so often the claim. It is about getting you to give up your car. It is about a handful of unrealistic do-gooders deciding how you should live, whether you like it or not. It is about assuring that you live in the least efficient way possible because they don’t like the way you have chosen to live. It is about your freedom of choice as an individual. Which they want to create, “negative incentives” for.

What is meant by “negative incentives” is a reduction in your lifestyle. To put it plainly, to make you more poor. So, ask yourself — do you want to be more poor to further some politicians dream? Do you want to reduce your lifestyle because some environmentalist decided you shouldn’t own a car? You want to take an hour to go to the store on the bus rather than 15 minutes in a car because some bureaucrat decided you needed “negative incentives” against owning an automobile?

This is going to be a difficult political season. The people of Hawaii stand to lose a great deal of their freedoms. It all depends upon whether the new mayor, and the governor, hold fast to those principles that embrace individual freedom rather than government solutions. The gist in the local media outlets is clear. The voice of the people may be the determining factor. Let’s hope so.

”’Don Newman, senior policy analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Hawaii’s first and only free market public policy institute focused on individual freedom and liberty, can be reached at:”’

”’This editorial is intended to provoke thought, discussion and an examination of issues. It does not reflect official policy of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. See the GRIH Web site at:”’

”’ reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’



Daily Policy Digest


Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005

Few low-income students in failing public schools are taking advantage of a key part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law (NCLB): free tutoring provided by private vendors. They’re missing out mainly because their parents don’t know about the service. And they don’t know because school districts aren’t telling them, says Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).

Under NCLB:

Chronically failing schools are required to set aside at least 20 percent of their Title I funding for tutoring and choice programs.
Educators keep any remaining funds that parents don’t use to hire private tutors so they have little incentive to inform parents about the private tutoring.
Parents have the right to pick their own corporate tutors at no cost; a list of certified tutors can be found on their state’s school board Web site.

A nationwide Harvard University study found that only 16 percent of eligible kids took advantage of the free tutoring. Overall, in most of the districts surveyed, the rates were less than 5 percent, and in some cases the rate was as low as less than 1 percent.

Across the country more than 5 million students are eligible for tutoring services, known in the law as supplemental educational services, or SES. Only about 750,000 are being tutored. If parents catch on, analysts estimate that as much as $2 billion in public-education dollars could flow into the private sector.

Source: Editorial, “A Back Door That Teachers Keep Shut,” Investor’s Business Daily, January 14, 2005; and Jimmy Kim and Gail L. Sunderman, “Mandates and Limited Resources: State Response to the No Child Left Behind Act and Implications for Accountability,” Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, February 2004.

”For Harvard Study:”

For more on Education: Federal Programs:

”Sprout of the Day”

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.

– Edward R. Murrow