Perception Versus Reality

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Over the past 40 years, there has been much talk about the “perception” that Hawaii has a bad business climate, residents are highly taxed, schools are inferior, etc. The standard defense used by the “former incumbents” was to either attack the messenger, or claim that “reality” is somehow different, and the “perception” is erroneous. Sure, sometimes perceptions are wrong, and reality is truly different. We all know people who have been “defamed” that were in reality wonderful, honest, caring and helpful. (True in particular of Republicans running for office.) And, conversely, someone who was perceived as being “wonderful, honest, caring and helpful” was, in reality, dishonest and after power, money, or both. (Often Democrats, i.e. members of the Honolulu City Council.) Did you notice a change in the perception of Hawaii’s business climate immediately after Linda Lingle was elected governor? At last, after a 40 year wait, Hawaii is now perceived as “Open for Business” by most of us in the (small) business world. This “perception” will last for quite a while, and with a little luck, long enough for “reality” to catch up. Gov. Lingle (wow, I really liked typing that) is working hard to mend the bureaucracy, streamline regulations, simplify the tax structure and make government more responsive to the citizens. Changing the reality: That will be the biggest problem she faces … especially if the incumbents try to throw up road-blocks and position themselves for the 2004 elections. It is up to us to let them know that we voted for change, we expect change and they must change. Or, at least allow change. The necessary changes will take time. The problems were created over a 40-year period, and can’t be eliminated overnight. But they can be eliminated if they are exposed to the light of day … and Gov. Lingle will see to that. Won’t it be nice to have articles and editorials in mainland publications that comment on how much the business climate “reality” in Hawaii has improved since the leadership was changed? Let’s give the governor and her new leadership team about 6 months, then we will be able to “kiss the messenger” instead of killing him. I can’t wait. ”Bud Weisbrod is a resident of Honolulu and can be reached via email at”