all-full crowd" cites an improvement in tourism numbers, increased tax revenues and more-active holiday spending figures to bolster their cheery outlook." />

The Cost Of Living May Jump In 2011

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - January 05, 2011

It appears there are some who are in danger of bursting a vessel in celebration of the great economic turnaround under way. The “glass is all-full crowd” cites an improvement in tourism numbers, increased tax revenues and more-active holiday spending figures to bolster their cheery outlook.

Well, I don’t want to be the one to rain on the parade, but ... you’re kidding, right? Hawaii is poised to become even more expensive in the coming year with the state getting a nice, hefty increase, according to the Council on Revenues. But what about you? Where is your increase in revenue? Even if you do get a modest increase for 2011, it’s going to get all sucked up in fee and tax increases.

A recent request to the Public Utilities Commission for a 24 percent increase by Young Bros. shipping when a new competitor comes on the horizon (no pun intended) is ridiculous. You would think a reduction in rates to become more competitive makes more sense. Oh, but it sure is easier to generate revenue by simply raising rates than actually working for it. What is the sense of having a regulated commission keeping an eye on rates when it seems all they have to do is ask for it and get it? Of course, any shipping increase is passed on to the consumer - that’s you. You ultimately pay for all increases.

Case in point: Have you gone grocery shopping lately? The cost of basics is through the roof. Now there is a call from Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers to impose a levy of 10 cents per pound on imported produce that competes with local growers. Ken Love of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers estimates that $26.5 million would be raised, and he has a plan to spend about half of that on various causes, such as funding a PR/advertising campaign to tell you to “Buy Local.” Hmm ... $26.5 million - I wonder where that comes from? Oh, that’s you! Importers are not going to pay this amount. They will pass it to the wholesaler, they will pass it down to the distributor, they will pass it to the retailer and then it’s passed to you. Ch-ching!

I do the shopping for my family, and I have to save as much as I can. I would love to buy local, but it’s much more expensive than other products. And don’t give me: “It’s just a few more cents. Isn’t it worth it to support local growers?” Tell you what, you lower your cost and I’ll buy everything local.

But you can’t, because Hawaii sold itself out to unions and Democratic Party rule, resulting in uncompetitive production expense, higher shipping costs, some of the highest fuel taxes in the nation and that pesky General Excise Tax.

Some of you may believe I am selfish for this attitude. Guess what? You’re correct. I am selfish. I’m selfish when it comes to making the best spending decisions for my family. They come first, not a special-interest group trying to “level the playing field” by socking their competition with a 10 cent per pound levy. By the way, one of the stated objectives of this tax idea is to “make (local) agriculture profitable.” So, you are willing to increase prices from your competitor at the expense of the local shopper in order for your industry to become profitable. No, thanks.

Gov. Abercrombie is facing a substantial budget shortfall despite more optimistic projections. He is promising to eliminate furlough days and he is restoring monies to various social services. All of this has a price tag.

I hope the governor can accomplish all of this and more. We’ll see if he can without having to come to you for more kala.

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