Hawaii Uh-Oh! Pension Tsunami, Cronyism, and Democratic Destruction Sinking the Aloha State
IS HAWAII NEXT?:
Could the Aloha State be Headed for Bankruptcy like Puerto Rico?
Guest editorial by former Hawaii GOP Chairman and
State Senator John Carroll with HIRA president Eric Ryan
"Sustainability". While Hawaii's ruling Democrats actively destroy local agriculture by transforming irreplaceable farmlands into fast profits for politically-connected real estate developers and construction unions, these same big government liberals shamelessly pay lip service to the popular concept of "sustainability" or sustaining our way of life for our state's growing population.
. They have been whistling past the graveyard of 'sustainability' for decades. That's why we import more than
But island conservatives are not fooled. We have no doubt that the American Dream is under daily attack in Hawaii and that nobody is really doing anything about it. We know that 'sustainability' is as much of a joke to Democrats as is their oft-stated intention of passing along the same standard of living enjoyed by the current generation to the next and the next. Heck, anybody able to read newspaper headlines can connect the dots and figure out that Democrat-run Hawaii is in serious trouble.
Anyone following the news around our nation and around the world will recognize the very same frightening combination of negative traits exhibited by Hawaii's state and local politicians that you've seen in the crisis-causing leaders of bankrupt Greece, bankrupt Detroit, and more recently (as in, just the other day) bankrupt Puerto Rico. Indeed, the same deadly political combination of cronyism, greed, narcissism, and sheer hubris is why the Aloha State is on the fast track to becoming the next troubled locale which could have avoided the same sorry fate had we only paid attention and changed our ways.
You remember Greece from the 2010 headlines, don't you? At the direction of socialist leaders, Greece spent itself into oblivion by letting politicians promise unsustainable pensions to bureaucrats and unsustainable prosperity to a population which became less inclined to work for a living.
And who could forget
Detroit? That's the big, Democrat-run American city where politicians promised an endless fortune in riches to special interest groups (like Democrat government employees) until the money ran dry in 2013.
And then there's tourism-dependent Puerto Rico, which in 2017 bears such an uncanny resemblance to Hawaii that it's not even funny. The now bankrupt (yes, literally and financially and legally bankrupt) island nation which has been siphoning life support off the U.S. mainland for so long that any consideration of building a truly "sustainable" economy was ignored by ambitious local politicians determined to keep winning re-election with costly promises.
Sustainability was never a genuine commitment of Democrats and socialists in Greece, Detroit or Puerto Rico. The irresponsible politicians in each of these locales resemble the first wave of looters who make off with the flat-screen TV's and the booze, while regular folks and their families will be lucky if they show up in time to grab a pair of tube socks amid the broken glass and burning storefronts.
Back home in Hawaii, if true sustainability means that your kids should be able to look forward to enjoying the same standard of living that their parents and grandparents enjoyed, then Democrats Ige, Caldwell, Saiki, Kouchi and the rest of the cabal who govern our remote mid-Pacific state at the direction of PRP, HGEA, Matson and other special interest groups need to stop looting and start paying attention. Those holding public office in our county and state governments who cannot see the remarkable similarities between Hawaii and Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Detroit, Hawaii and Greece, should be locked up in an insane asylum.
All the warning signs are here and the statistics are beyond worrisome. Clearly, Hawaii's politicians have already killed off the American Dream in the islands by creating a dystopian nightmare economy in which the kids probably still live at home because they cannot afford to move out . . . or they move away from Hawaii altogether since they can't envision upward mobility by remaining in the most expensive place to live in the country which pays the lowest wages in the country to work at poverty level jobs and charges the 2nd highest taxes in the country.
Let's drill down a bit, cause it's not enough to simply know the main causes of our plight. We all need to fully appreciate how and why Hawaii's unsustainable story does not have a happy ending. As Margaret Thatcher perfectly stated, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." And thanks to the Hawaii Democrat Machine's deadly combination of cronyism, greed, narcissism, and sheer hubris, we are simply running out of money to feed the beast which governs us.
ENDLESS PAY RAISES
Our state and county governments grow more costly with each passing day. Democrat politicians are controlled by HGEA, UPW, HSTA, UHPA -- the powerful Democrat-aligned unions calling the shots and squeezing everyone to make sure that 75,000 government employees receive endless pay raises and more. As Grassroot Institute recently reported, the county workers alone are the highest paid in the nation (or 6th highest if one adjusts for our cost of living). This is unsustainable.
MAJOR PERKS + PENSIONS
As in Greece, Detroit, and Puerto Rico, these public workers were also promised a fortune in massive lifetime perks by Democrats, along with very generous lifetime pensions. There's just one problem: We can't afford such generosity. According to the Grassroot Institute's Keli'i Akina, "Hawaii's unfunded liability crisis has topped $23 billion for pensions and health benefits for public retirees. Salary hikes and pension spikes have worsened the debt, which is beginning to devour the state budget."
In fact, after Democrats paid too little for too long into the pension and perks funds, taxpayers are now on the hook for an additional $385 million a year from taxpayers to make up for the shortfall, according to ERS Executive Director Thom Williams, who took over his position in November 2015. With that additional revenue, taxpayers would be paying $1.14 billion a year to help fund the pension plan, which provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits to more than 120,000 active, retired and inactive state and county employees. This is unsustainable.
THE RAIL DISASTER
That additional $385 million per year for retired public workers is in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars per year diverted from your wallet to the Democrat Rail Cartel's train construction project. Long before overtaxed Oahu taxpayers will begin paying much more than $100 million per year forever to subsidize operations and maintenance (O&M) of TheTrain system through higher property taxes (or a permanent GET increase), we are already being soaked in higher taxes and GET-impacted higher prices to help the Democrats at HART generate all the money they could ever need to 'finish' the rail project to Ala Moana Shopping Center. But the City Charter amended by Charles Djou calls for HART to build 34 miles of heavy rail to UH Manoa, Waikiki and to Costco in Kapolei. These extensions mean that construction will be never-ending and that we will be simultaneously paying for O&M while paying for construction. Let's call that $400 million per year in money we don't have. Again, unsustainable.
THE SHIPPING MONOPOLY
Democrat Party megadonor and monopoly shipper Matson relies on Hawaii politicians to keep quiet about the Jones Act. The absence of competition in shipping products to and from Hawaii results in a giant hidden tax on all goods and services which some estimates cause our cost of living to be one-third higher than the mainland.
This protectionist shipping monopoly hits the people of struggling Hawaii and bankrupt Puerto Rico in the same terrible way; suffocating our economy by requiring everybody to buy goods from an American-made ship with an American crew. A major effort to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act came too late (and not at all) to help the bankrupt island commonwealth. As even the liberals at PBS point out, this awful 1912 era federal 'cabotage' law "limits business owners and jacks up everyone's prices". While estimates vary, the Jones Act Reform Coalition says that Hawaii consumers pay approximately $800 million annually in higher prices or $2,050 annually per household. Nope, not sustainable.
The same Democrats who can't seem to fix our roads, reduce poverty or even synchronize the traffic lights are always dreaming up big new capital improvement projects to reward campaign donors with. Currently in the pipeline of big and expensive ideas are replacing and updating the costly facilities throughout Honolulu's Blaisdell Center. In addition, the Democrat built prisons seem to be outliving their usefulness, so it's time for new prisons. Then there's the Aloha Stadium which was never supposed to rust, but is now falling apart and is situated right along the rail transit route (i.e. ripe for redevelopment).
And now, we need to retrofit our overheated public schools so that air conditioning systems can be installed. In addition, the sinkhole known as the Honolulu Airport never seems to be pau with construction and renovation. And don't forget Hawaii county's new
$100 million upgrade to the Kealakehe sewer plant to allow treated wastewater to irrigate crops in North Kona. Surely, you understand that your family has been condemned to another decade or two of eating Top Ramen every time the politicians start throwing around phrases which begin "We need to build a world-class (fill-in-the-blank)." Paid for with higher taxes and an increase in public debt, none of these luxuries comes for free. Meanwhile, our streets, parks, highways, water and sewer systems, are constantly gobbling up a fortune in tax dollars. Altogether, unsustainable.
With Hawaii suffering the same chronic government overtaxation and overspending as Puerto Rico, the same unsustainable pensions and perks for state and county government employees, similar unaffordable make-work projects like rail, plus the same high cost of living as Puerto Rico brought about by Hawaii's identical price-inflating shipping monopoly, Hawaii is quickly heading down the same road as these other troubled economies.
Hawaii is due for a wake up call.Our standard of living is rapidly slipping away. If we don't want to be next Puerto Rico, Detroit or Greece, it will take a concerted effort by Republicans to reverse the downward slide. It will take a powerful, sustained, and united effort by the Hawaii GOP which hasn't been seen locally since local Democrats turned the tables on Republicans in 1954. That was 63 years ago. Today, the warning signs are all around us and the arguments are all on our side. It's time to make the case, Republicans. Our state's entire future is at stake.
Currently, Hawaii voters are dis-served by liberal news media reporters and editors practicing a form of journalistic malpractice which refuses to connect the dots between all these disturbing patterns and a Democrat Party which refuses to own up to its responsibility for today's severe consequences and those which lie ahead. Democrats are 100% incapable of turning things around. Their party and their politicians are 100% controlled by the very special interest groups responsible for pushing Hawaii in the exact direction we are headed.
Only one political party
has the potential to lead the economic, political, and social revolution sorely needed in Hawaii to stave off our fate as the next Puerto Rico: Hawaii's GOP. Today, with six months having evaporated into thin air since the November 2016 General Election, it is our sincere hope that today's new GOP leaders in Hawaii will seize the opportunity over the next 18 months and beyond to wage a REAL war against the failed, destructive and completely unsustainable policies of Hawaii's Democrat Machine.
Hawaii's clock is ticking and the next election is less than 18 months away . . .