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Working for a better economy, better governance and a better society

If only it were possible to fill a stocking with economic freedom and leave lots of new jobs under the tree.

Like everything else about 2020, this Christmas season has been quite different, and we at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii have had a lot of time to ponder our Christmas wish list.

Not wanting to be greedy and list too many things, we’ve pared the list down to just the essentials. In fact, you could say that our Christmas wish boils down to just one important thing: freedom.

That’s what we want most for Hawaii this year. Economic freedom that would help entrepreneurs start new businesses in our state and give a boost to existing ones. Individual freedom that respects our fundamental Constitutional rights. Both are necessities, and each depends on the other.

As the great economist and social philosopher Ludwig von Mises wrote, “The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom.”

This year, we’ve had a crash course in the importance of freedom. After the lockdowns are over, I doubt any of us will ever take our liberty for granted again.

Of course, asking for freedom for Christmas is a big request, akin to asking Santa for a pony. So if he prefers to give us our wish in smaller pieces, we would be happy to see a few steps in the right direction, such as:

>> Easing the regulations that hurt small business, like occupational licensing and home-based business laws.

>> Cutting spending and balancing the state budget without raising taxes or incurring more liabilities.

>> Changing land-use regulations to make more property available for residential development, and reducing the red tape that slows that process to a crawl.

>> Lowering the cost of living in Hawaii by updating the Jones Act, as well as lowering fees and taxes, such as a general excise tax exemption for groceries and medical services.

>> Reforming the state’s emergency management statute to require a firm legislative check on the governor’s power to declare endless lockdowns.

What we want most of all this year is to see Hawaii thrive and prosper. We want to see tourism return, new businesses flourish, new jobs created and new homes built.

It is my great hope that our next Christmas list will leave me with very little to ask for. In the meantime, I wish all of you a very happy holiday season.