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Breaking The Cycle

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By Lowell L. Kalapa

When we talk about “breaking the cycle” it is usually in reference to the cycle of welfare where generations of families have relied upon the welfare system to get them and their families through life. However, that term seems perfect for what is going on in Hawaii’s social and political environment.

First it seems that the cycle of dependency, nay, addiction to the assumption that government can solve all our problems and provide every service we need and desire has to be broken. What we have come to realize in the past few years is that the more we depend on government, the larger it must be. And the larger it becomes, the more it must eat out of our pocketbooks.

So it seems that the first break we must make is to recognize that we have to get along with a smaller sized government and perhaps give up a number of services we have taken for granted. Crucial to downsizing while protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community is the more efficient delivery of public services. Given that there are certain public services which are indeed imperative to the safety and welfare of the people of Hawaii, those services must be delivered with the highest quality at the minimum cost. That type of delivery or provision of service is said to be “efficient.”

To secure the most efficient delivery of services, public officials need to explore new alternatives to the traditional way of providing services. It has become painfully obvious that doing things the way we have always done them is inefficient as technology and creativity have found short cuts and less expensive approaches to providing public services. Being prevented from contracting out services on a competitive bid process eliminates one more alternative that public managers have in pursuing a more efficient government. Thus, this is one more “cycle” that needs to be broken.

The other cycle appears to be that those in office don’t seem to be responding to the demands of the people. At least that is what it appears to be as not only is it the disgruntled patron at the coffee shop, but it appears even the media, through the editorial page, is voicing sharp criticism of those in office.

However, more often than not, the disgruntled taxpayer is usually the individual who is so disgusted with government that he or she is not even registered to vote. Complain as they may, many taxpayers are so disenchanted with government that they see the voting process as pointless. How ironic, as the only way government will change is if the current office holders have a change of heart and mind or if others, who are willing to change the course of government, are elected to office. In order to elect new people to office or to register one’s disappointment with current office holders one has to vote.

Thus, the second cycle to be broken is voter apathy. If taxpayers are not satisfied with the way their government is being run, then they should find new captains for the ship. The only way new captains are found is to be elected to office. If taxpayers are not registered to vote or do not get out to vote, then those taxpayers have no right to complain, in short, “sit down and shut up.”

The choices are very clear if we, as taxpayers, don’t want government putting its hand in our wallets and purses. Government needs to downsize, no make that “right-size” – a government that we, as taxpayers, are willing to pay for – something that doesn’t seem to be what we have right now. Second, the choice is clear, if taxpayers are unhappy with those who have decided not to address issues such as the high tax burden, an oversized government, and privatization, then they need to get out and vote for new players, players who will be willing to listen and act on what is best for the majority of the taxpayers.

To move into the 21st Century, the cycle of dependency and lack of accountability needs to be broken.

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