The President of the United States, Bill Clinton, enjoying some Hawaii R & R on his way to Australia, dined next door to SBH at Roy's in Hawaii Kai November17. Reportedly, he didn't have a cheeseburger and he didn't stop in at SBH to get some business and economic updates. The harsh weather didn't stop Mr. Clinton from golfing during his brief visit here.
The torrential rains and floods that ravaged the Islands from Election Day through late November served as a reminder that politicians don't control everything. Millions of dollars in damage were recorded and many people suffered. You can help by sending a donation to the Hawaii Red Cross, 4155 DiamondHead Road. Phone 739-8109.
Despite the rains and flooding, the government-controlled sprinkler systems continued to waste water during the bad weather. Won't we ever get that right?
The economy is still in shambles here and people are hurting, but nonetheless, 70,000 advance Michael Jackson tickets were sold out for a January 3 concert at Aloha Stadium. People of all ages camped out, got into fist-fights, and created a demand for a second show with their enthusiasm. Priorities!
As we go to press, the public teachers, who have been without a state contract for two years, are preparing to strike here. The UH system professors may join them. They have heard the mixed signals from the Legislature and Governor as to where the money is, or isn't. If we really want better education in Hawaii it will take more than money and threats by the unions. It will take leadership, commitment and parent-citizen participation in improving the school system. Still, the teachers deserve a contract, respect from their state bosses and salary incentives for those individual teachers who have demonstrated real achievement and merit. When will we learn to prioritize those things we say are the most important? Get politics out of education first.
Hot on the heels of the teachers are the judges-mostly former politicians or supporters-seeking more money. There is less than luke warm public response for their demands.
Government-mandated airbags have thus far killed 31 children. Parents are blamed for having their children close to them in the front seat, or for facing them the wrong way. New, "smarter" 2nd generation airbags are coming; maybe we should have new, smarter people in government and less mandates.
Wait till you get your new 1996 Hawaii Personal Income Tax Form (it usually arrives with Christmas mail) and see the added box that asks if you have ordered any catalog sales and IF YOU HAVE PAID THE 4% HAWAII USE TAX on those purchases. Merry!
On the heels of a recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau revealing that poverty was increasing and income decreasing in Hawaii, while nationally, poverty was decreasing and income increasing, a new national survey by the National Governors' Association and National Association of State Budget Officers, showed Hawaii struggling in more economic categories. One of the primary reasons? While other states have cut taxes, Hawaii continues to increase taxes and fees. Other states, including California, are rebounding, but we are not. The pundits here are 'waiting' for things to change. They won't. WE have to make them change. First stop: the 1997 State Legislature and more take home pay.
And did you see Forbes (10/21/96), "It's the costs, stupid," that compared cities with below-average business costs (Las Vegas, San Antonio, Green Bay, Orlando, etc.) with those cities with above-average business costs (Honolulu, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Hartford, etc.)? The clear conclusion: five-year job growth was positive and higher (19% - 34%) in the first group and lower (7% to - 6%) in the second. Honolulu's rate was - 2%. The conclusion by author Suzanne Oliver, if you want to create more jobs in your town, reduce taxes and make government more efficient. What a concept. Now, let's do it in Hawaii in '97.
Someone who does understand this concept is Maui Mayor Linda Crockett Lingle and she will be SBH's keynote speaker at our 21st Annual Business Conference - the first major business and investment forum of the New Year - Wednesday, January 8. It will be an event you and your associates will want to attend.
The 1996 local elections are pau and the media and politicians who didn't lose have offered their analyses. For the most part, they concur that very little changed and that despite the "few" upsets and mood of the public, nothing much will occur next year. It is up to us in the business community, and the energetic, newly elected lawmakers in both parties, to prove the cynics wrong by keeping our promises and making changes to benefit all of Hawaii's people. Can it be done? Absolutely, but only if the public that indicated they want change, and helped the change in direction to a two-party system in Hawaii, continue to be active, involved and interested. Then, anything is possible.
As we approach the holiday season and the end of the year, it is good to reflect on the lessons we learned - or should have learned this year - and to double our joint resolve to Make Hawaii Work Again in '97. We wish you and your family the very best.
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Small Business Hawaii
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