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Kneading the Community Dough For Votes

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By Lowell L. Kalapa

     With the 1998 political campaign underway, both incumbents and challengers for elected office are out in full force knocking on doors with their campaign literature in hand and standing on street corners trying to fetch your attention to their signs.  

 

 
It appears that for the first time, voters have made the connection between BIGgovernment and the amount that is being taken out of their wallets and pocketbooks in the way of taxes and fees.
       While fundraising the money needed to pay for the literature, the advertisements, and the signs is important, what is even more important for the candidate is the vote that you will cast in September and later in November. Certainly a lot of attention has been given to how much this or that candidate has raised for this election bid but what is more important is whether or not he or she can convince the voter.

More than ever, what the candidate promises to do if elected will be important to voters this year. After years of apathy, it appears the difficult economic times have garnered the attention of many voters and they seem to have shifted their opinion about what government’s role should be. It appears that for the first time, voters have made the connection between BIG government and the amount that is being taken out of their wallets and pocketbooks in the way of taxes and fees.

Voters also seem to have made the connection between the lousy business climate and the way government has a regulation for everything. Although some candidates have already hung the Asian flu as the reason for Hawaii’s economic malaise, others have noted that Hawaii hasn’t been much of an attraction for mainland investors either.

 

 

 

Voters also seem to have made the connection between the lousybusiness climate and the way government has a regulation for everything.

       While incumbents may deny that cutting taxes and downsizing government is the prescription for a strong economy, one only has to check out the desperate moves of the recently concluded legislative session. At the forefront was the “largest tax cut” in the history of Hawaii. Of course that tax cut required that lawmakers approve a hike in the general excise tax. Also on deck was the issue of privatization and elimination of duplication in government as a means of “right-sizing” government. The problem is that many of these laudable goals could not be accomplished by lawmakers because of flaws like the increase in the general excise tax. But what is more important, the proposals highlighted the need to reform the way government operates in Hawaii.

The question for voters is whether or not the candidates vying for their votes will be able to accomplish these lofty goals without compromise. Obviously, competing interests stood in the way of achieving these goals. Those who did not want to reduce spending supported the increase in the general excise tax. Those who saw privatization as an elimination of public jobs stalled the measure. For those who wanted a smaller size government, the rhetoric and debate merely delayed any real action on the issue.

In the coming weeks, you as voters will be promised the world, you will be persuaded with attractive ideas to revitalize the economy with this or that gimmick, but think carefully and ask yourself, just what stands in the way of economic vitality.

What prevents businesses from having the capital to create new jobs? What stands in the way of reducing the burden of taxes with which we must all cope? Ask yourself why the can of beans or the bag of rice is so much more than what your cousin in California pays for the same items. Ask yourself how state government could have grown so large that we, as taxpayers, can no longer afford to support it without a tax increase.

While all that campaign rhetoric will become even more irritating, remember, if it is change that you want as a voter, make sure you study the issues, listen to the promises and then get out and cast your ballot!

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