Hawaii’s “brain drain” has been an ubiquitous subject in our public consciousness for decades.
But given the economic devastation prompted by the state’s yearlong COVID-19 lockdowns, we now are even more vulnerable to losing the state’s best and brightest to opportunities elsewhere.
Legislative tax bills such as the notorious SB56 haven’t helped, and leaving Hawaii appears more than ever to be an obvious choice.
The state Legislature recently commissioned the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to study the issue, but it’s not like there is any mystery as to why people are leaving.
Certainly, human capital flight is a nuanced issue. But it doesn’t take a Nobel Prize-winning economist to deduce that high taxes in Hawaii, especially during a time of economic turmoil, are part of the problem.
The real barrier facing our policymakers isn’t that this issue is too complex. Rather, it’s that trying to solve it requires an understanding of how their out-of-control spending and consequent high taxes have affected the ability of Hawaii residents to stay in the islands.
The plain fact is we can’t spend and tax our way to prosperity.
So, let’s not waste any more time beating around the bush while locals wave goodbye to their homes, families and friends.
We need to get real about what we need to do to build a brighter future for Hawaii — and work together for the sake of it.