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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, May 16, 2002

Latest Forbes diatribe ignores our realities

Forbes magazine, the affluent voice of the free market, is back to mocking the business climate of the state it calls the People's Republic of Hawai'i.

As one would expect from a publication run by a conservative Republican who opposes taxes, welfare and government regulation, the Aloha State is characterized as a veritable tax hell where "Fidel Castro would feel right at home."

Writer Lynn J. Cook gives Hawai'i the booby prize for economic development, which she says is hampered by high taxes, high cost of living, powerful labor unions, mandatory employer-paid health insurance and tough environmental laws.

While we take issue with the sarcastic and exaggerated tone of the article, we can't quarrel with some of the assertions.

We'd all love to see the price of paradise go down. You won't find many Hawai'i residents defending inflated food and gas prices, or a state bureaucracy, with its burdensome rules, larger than it should be.

But we wouldn't want to make Hawai'i business-friendly at the expense of clean air and water, open space, low crime and other qualities that make the Islands a desirable place to live, and this is a consideration the Forbes article overlooks altogether.

Traditionally, Hawai'i's leadership has fallen woefully short of providing vision on the economic development front, and that's something the new governor and Legislature that emerge from the 2002 election need to address.

But getting the approval of Forbes magazine needn't be our goal.