Tag Archives: Sam Slom

This Grade Is All Business

For the longest time, the small businesspeople of Hawaii have comforted each other with rueful laughs and their club’s secret motto: “Hawaii: Live in paradise, work in hell.”  To put it mildly, Hawaii has not traditionally had the most business-friendly reputation.  At least not for the non-Doles and non-Hiltons among us.  And while some progress is being made (including a slight awareness that it isn’t necessary to completely handcuff small businesses from their inception and the election of more business-friendly politicians), there’s still a general lack on knowledge about how the Hawaii Legislature helps and hurts small business in Hawaii.  (And don’t disregard the importance of small business on the economy.  There are more than 100,000 small businesses in Hawaii bringing in over $2-3 billion in income annually (according to the Small Business Administration).

Enter PAYCHECKS Hawaii, a non-profit and non-partisan initiative of Smart Business Hawaii, whose unenviable job it is to rate all of Hawaii’s legislators on their business savvy.  The Paychecks ratings are based upon a combination of key votes (especially tax and fee increases); efforts to decrease or increase spending and the size of government; actions regarding employer mandates and labor bills (from worker’s comp to union issues and so on); conduct in hearings, responsiveness, and accessibility; and sponsorship/advocacy for initiatives to help the business climate.  Paychecks has just released its ratings for the most recent legislative session, and it looks like quite a few of Hawaii’s legislators need a remedial education in business and helping the economy.  Every legislator was given a grade from 1(the best) to 5(the worst).  So first the good news:

In the Hawaii Senate, two Senators got the highest score–Fred Hemmings and Sam Slom.  (Both Republicans.  Two Democrats, however, got the next highest score of “2”–Robert Bunda and Josh Green.)

In the House, the highest ratings went to Lynn Berbano Finnegan (R), Barbara Marumoto (R), and Kymberly Marcos Pyne (R).  Scoring the second best rating were Tom Brower (D), Corinne Ching (R), Cynthia Thielen (R), and Gene Ward (R)

And now the bad news.  There were so many second-worst “4” scores that listing them here would make this more like a roll call of the Legislature than a blog entry.  So let’s go with a simple Hall of Shame.

Scoring a worst score of “5” in the Senate were Gary Hooser (D) and Dwight Takamine (D).

And the dreaded “5”s in the House went to Michael Magaoay (D), Hermina Morita (D), Blake Oshiro (D), Marcus Oshiro (D), Calvin Say (D), and Roy Takumi (D).

Not good.  Maybe it’s time we had a few of them stay after school and write, “I will not handicap Hawaii’s economic future,” on the blackboard until it sinks in.

The Hawaii Legislature–Working for you. Sort of.

How often do you get to see an actual politician explain how counter-productive and useless this legislative session was?  Not very often, that’s for sure.  It requires a degree of honesty that (let’s face it) is not exactly plentiful among those with one finger in the prevailing political winds.  And that’s why, if you want a real rundown of the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of the Hawaii Legislature this year, you definitely want to watch Hawaii Senator Sam Slom’s legislative round-up.  It’s certainly worth viewing in its entirety, but I’ll hit the highlights for you:

Downsides to this Legislative Session: They balanced the budget only by raising taxes and fees, raided the hurricane relief safety net to try to prop up the teacher’s union and the state school system (which isn’t exactly reaching new heights in education . . . except to hit a national record for shortest school year), and generally handicapped business and enterprise in the Islands.

Accomplishments of this Legislative Session: Feel-good bills about sharks and monk seals.

You know, some people might question a legislative session that only lasts a few months, but I’m starting to be grateful that the window to really foul things up is so small.

Census Nonsense

Like most everyone else, I have been feeling the mild irritation that comes with getting a long questionnaire from the government accompanied by vague threats and even vaguer promises about the importance of filling it out.  Apparently, we should all be eager to take advantage of this chance to get “our fair share.”

Has it really come to that?

Are we so greedy, so eager to get our share of the government pie that the advertising wizards behind this year’s census marketing decided that a naked appeal to greed, and social/cultural divisions was the best motivator to use?  Especially in light of the fact that the “fair share” here is really the fair share of my own tax dollars.

Call me cynical if you must, but my experience hasn’t let me to believe that a lot of those tax dollars are coming back to me.  Especially in light of recent legislative efforts.  So when I see the “fair share” ads, all I can think of is the government urging people to fill out their census so they can be certain to get some of my money.

And when we throw race into the equation, it gets even more complicated.

Because (as this site makes so abundantly clear) race and ethnicity and monetary “fair share” is almost an industry in this country.  And the net effect is not to bring us together, but to deepen racial divisions and resentments.

I highly recommend Sam Slom’s recent article about the census in the Hawaii Reporter about the census.  As Senator Slom points out, the census was originally about the reapportionment of the US House of Representatives.  Not the all-out entitlement grab that it seems to have become.  And by standing by and allowing it to be a more and more intrusive process, we’re basically condoning it.  No, I’m not advocating refusing to fill out your census form.  But I think that everyone who has an issue with big, intrusive government and with the business of federal entitlements and grievances should begin asking questions of their elected representatives about the appropriateness of the ever-expanding census.

And don’t even get me started on what it costs.