Government Adds To Economic Pain

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - July 09, 2008

It’s getting to the point where you don’t want to read, watch or listen to the news. It is rife with economic doom and gloom, and the main culprit is the escalating cost of gasoline.

There is no doubt we live in a challenging time. But we have to understand a fundamental aspect of our economy - it’s cyclical. This too shall pass. The important question is just how down will we go and for how long.

A mid-May Gallop Poll in Princeton, N.J., found, out of 1,013 people polled, that the No. 1 issue for voters this political season is the economy, outdistancing the Iraq war 48 percent to 42 percent. This isn’t the greatest news for Democrats and Sen. Barack Obama. The left is counting on exploiting the perceived travails of the war and labeling Sen. John McCain as a perpetuation of a failed Bush foreign policy. Although they will get some traction, it will prove extremely difficult to make the case our economic woes are the creation of the Oval Office.

The Democrat-controlled Congress cannot run from its overall complacency and ineffectiveness in dealing with various economic crises. Whether it’s the mortgage meltdown, bloated spending or a lackadaisical attitude toward our weakening currency, Congress has a lot of explaining to do.

The political machinations of presidential politics is probably the last thing an average family has on their minds. The reality is that daily life is more and more expensive. You need look no further than family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances. Yes, the cost of a gallon of gas is top-of-mind conversation.

But the discussion of food prices, electric bills, housing shortages/expenses and private to public education are soon to follow.When times get tough, there is a natural inclination in our society to look to government for solutions. Politicians will tell you as much. But this is where our vigilance is even more important when contemplating the role of our government.

My intent is not to promote cynicism, but it is disingenuous for government officials to say “they” have the solutions when government is first in line to get its financial take while you are scrambling to make up your personal budget deficit. The price of a gallon of gas could be reduced if government would pare down its 60-cent-per-gallon tax. The cost of feeding your family would be reduced if government would rescind the general excise tax on food. The cost of health care would be lower if the state would eliminate the GET on prescriptions. The cost of shelter would be reduced if Hawaii would not tax rent.

With the present composition of our state Legislature, I have a better chance of running a marathon than government relinquishing its death grip on your revenues. The GET is the most regressive tax in the nation. It is non-discriminatory. It inflicts greater pain on those less fortunate. How can lawmakers look at themselves in the mirror knowing they are financially punishing the most vulnerable in our most vulnerable time?

Yes, essential governmental services must be delivered, but when questionable budgets for public education, land acquisitions, personnel raises and transportation projects are examined, one can only conclude we could truly mitigate the economic pain inflicted on those struggling to survive if our leaders governed with clarity and priority.

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