Building a New Economic Model for Hawaii
The state of Hawaii is built on a mid-twentieth century model of centralized one-party rule, unionization, protection of favored industries and excessive regulation. While this development model had its points in the transition from an agriculturally based territorial government, it is proving itself unable to keep up with the demands and competition of the 21st century.
Hawaii has no development plans beyond depending on a continued military presence and a need for ever increasing visitor arrivals to off-set lower visitor spending. Servicing and support of these two industries is what drives Hawaii economy and any decline or loss in either and Hawaii has nothing to fall back on.
Moving beyond the limits of this economic model cannot take place as long as economic and urban development planning is being driven not by careful research but primarily by political ideology and state-mandates.
Planning particularly for an isolated state like Hawaii is critical. The problem is when those in government mandates what path that planning is to follow, the results produced, must be skewed to fit the predetermined goals.
For instance, the state government mandates that 100% of the islands electrical supply is to be generated by “clean energy” by 2045. This mandate is not based on careful planning as to what is the best mix of energy and power for all around economic prosperity but is strictly based on the ideology presuppositions of the one-party ruling structure.
Recent history has proven that maintaining artificially high energy cost on Oahu is needed to bolster such state mandates.
When NextEra proposed the dramatic lowering of energy cost on Oahu (by as much as $111,000,000 a year for Oahu) in connection with their potential purchase of Hawaiian Electric Company, this sort of economic boon but mandate undermining feature, is undoubtedly part of what the Public Utilities Commission considered when its 3 man panel blocked this purchase from taking place.
Hence the mandate carried more weight than the resulting family energy savings, potential job expansion and wage increase that such a dramatic reduction in electrical cost would have meant for the middle class on Oahu.
Sound planning must be based on the research results not political presuppositions, to allow planners to follow a logical and unimpeded path to achieve the best results for the most people.
Singapore is an island nation just off the coast of Malaysia, it has half the land area of Oahu with a population of over five times higher, yet it has an average monthly household income of over $9,000 compared to Hawaii with at a little over $6000 and a urban infrastructure and business environment that dwarfs many much larger nations.
The National Geographic video made in 2018 and linked below shows how incredible futuristic Singapore skyline looks and examines the dynamic economy it has built through its very pro-business policies. It highlights the high-tech research and development companies on the island and the complex urban planning taking place that is profoundly cutting edge.
This is presented to show how a robust approach to urban planning and economic development can serve as an inspiration for reformers and visionaries in Hawaii. Singapore operates on a very clean and safe urban model, highly integrated with the natural environment, while also welcoming business and economic growth.
Located in Southeast Asia it has income levels and infrastructure superior to our own. Why this is so can only be attributed to the will and vision of its citizens and leadership.
For those seeking a future of unlimited potential for Hawaii, not that of narrow state-mandated restrictions featuring high cost and meager returns, Singapore offers a intriguing example of what can be done to grow and secure prosperity in Hawaii for decades into the future.