Don’t go native on us

A free market case against the Akaka Bill

By Rev. Daniel Paul de Gracia, II and Sarah Ann Hunt

A top New Year’s resolution for many elected officials in Hawaii’s local government is to see passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Act. The Act seeks to create what The Honolulu Advertiser characterized in a recent editorial as “a pathway for establishing Hawaii’s indigenous people as a political entity, enabling their reconstitution as a ‘state within a state’ government.” It has been argued that without a native government, the Hawaiian people can never succeed and never attain their highest dreams. In truth, for not just the Hawaiian people but all residents of the State of Hawaii, government is not the solution to our problems, it is our problem. Hawaii’s existing government has already proven its inability to provide quality education, promote a healthy economy, and sustain a job market that keeps people employed and tax revenues flowing – are we really to believe that another government can magically create prosperity for Native Hawaiians?

Hawaiians don’t need a state within a state to succeed, what they need is the same thing that everyone else in Hawaii needs: home ownership and employment in a stable job that provides income and opportunities for them to spend today and invest in tomorrow. According to the Corporation For Enterprise Development (CFED) Opportunity and Assets 2007-2008 scorecard, Hawaii ranks 48th in home ownership, 49th in median mortgage debt, 46th in net worth of households, and 44th in affordability of homes. Under these circumstances, any group of people will feel as though they have no future and no upward social mobility.

America arose from our Founding Fathers’ desire for individual property ownership and financial freedom, and those desires led them to place pen to parchment and declare “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Today in Hawaii, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are encumbered not due to the absence of a monarch or because of any racial barrier, but because the combined effect of a regime of high taxes, excessive environmental regulation, and the government’s insistence in picking winners and losers in every aspect of the local market, particularly education, medical care, housing, energy, industry, and transportation.

Granting privileges to one race over another undermines the core values of our American independence, which is based on the perception that we are all created equal. Across America’s history, people from sea to shining sea have braved difficulty, challenge, and tragedy to build their dreams, yet the sum of these hardships has served to unite us as one nation. To create a “state within a state” for the purpose of bettering Hawaiians at the cost of Americans would be an affront to all that we and countless souls before us have struggled, sacrificed, and even died for. America has been historically prosperous not because of its government, but because we value human empowerment over entitlement.

Restoring the honor of Hawaiians doesn’t require political solutions, it requires allowing the free market to reign. In his 1982 State of the Union Address, Ronald Reagan said, “I promised the American people to bring their tax rates down and to keep them down, to provide them incentives to rebuild our economy, to save, to invest in America’s future. I will stand by my word. Tonight I’m urging the American people: Seize these new opportunities to produce, to save, to invest, and together we’ll make this economy a mighty engine of freedom, hope, and prosperity again.” In Hawaii, local government would do well to duplicate this promise.

For Hawaiians to own homes, they will need access and opportunity to have rewarding, well-paying private jobs. The only way we can provide those jobs is to allow businesses and entrepreneurs – the creators of wealth and jobs – to do what they do best: innovate and produce without the restrictions of environmental regulations and high taxes. We can help individuals by repealing the taxes on food and medicine and eliminating the personal income tax.

The only money our state and federal government ever has was given to them by taxpayers. For government to turn around and fund another government – a state within a state – would be a travesty of the highest order and backwards to the moral compass that this great nation was founded upon.

We believe we are speaking for all of Hawaii’s people, Native Hawaiian or otherwise, when we say that no one is predestined or foreordained to fail. Like everyone else, we are created to prosper and to excel when given the opportunity to do so. We’re confident in our values, confident in our dreams, and confident in ourselves, which ultimately means we are confident in the free market. When it comes to the Akaka Bill, the real question remains: Is our government confident in us?

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