Take heart: We represent the mainstream

If you favor less regulation, lower taxes, Jones Act reform and increasing the land available for housing, that puts you in very good company.

I’m not talking about just followers or supporters of the Grassroot Institute. I’m talking about Hawaii residents as a whole

Believe it or not, these are majority opinions in our state — and we have the science to back it up.

Earlier this year, the Grassroot Institute commissioned Anthology Research, one of the state’s largest and most respected market research companies, to do a comprehensive survey of residents’ opinions on a wide variety of policy issues.

The study of 933 people — a large number for this type of survey — utilized best practices in sampling design, included both online and phone responses, and used a number of sources in order to obtain a representative sample of Hawaii residents, including a high proportion of voters.

In other words, this was no online media poll. This was a highly scientific survey with a high degree of statistical confidence.

What the Anthology survey found was that the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is squarely in the mainstream of local political opinion.

Think taxes are too high? Seventy-three percent of respondents agreed that “Hawaii residents and businesses are overtaxed and should pay lower taxes overall.”

Seventy-nine percent said that lowering taxes would help lower the cost of living, and 68% agreed that lower taxes tend to be associated with healthier economies.

A whopping 81% of respondents disagreed with the statement, “I personally should pay more in state and county taxes.”

Woe to the lawmaker who is planning to support a tax increase in the coming year!

Maybe you’re not surprised by those responses. After all, most people don’t want to pay more in taxes. But the consensus didn’t stop there. On issue after issue, we found broad agreement with policies that support lower taxes, less regulation and greater economic freedom.

For example, 63% disagreed that “Hawaii would be a better place with more government regulations,” while the same percentage agreed that, “Hawaii has too many government regulations” and 69% agreed that, “Government regulations hurt Hawaii’s small businesses.”

On government spending, 70% agreed that, “Hawaii’s state and county governments spend too much overall”; 68% thought such spending hurts the economy; and 74% agreed that our state and local governments could save money by contracting some services to the private sector.

Similarly, 77% agreed that “Hawaii’s state and county governments have too much debt.

Of those respondents who were familiar with the Jones Act, 67% believed it should be scrapped or modified. The most common reason given was that the act increases shipping costs and our cost of living.

Nearly everyone, 97%, agreed that housing is too expensive, and 87% supported a 1 or 2 percentage point increase in the amount of land allocated for commercial and residential use.

Of course, there were also survey responses that were not in alignment with the institute’s policy preferences.

For example, despite the overall dislike for high government spending and debt, respondents generally approved of government spending to stimulate economic growth or strengthen public services. Moreover, about half of those polled were unfamiliar with the Jones Act and its effects. Such responses suggested opportunities for education, outreach and a little “E hana kakou.”

In any case, the survey results were a promising sign for anyone who wants to expand economic freedom in our state. While pundits and policy trends can sometimes make it feel otherwise, sound economic policies and fiscal responsibility never go out of style.

The philosophy that drives the Grassroot Institute is clearly reflected in the common sense views of the majority of Hawaii’s population. And that is great news as we endeavor to influence our government leaders to listen to the people.

This commentary was Keli’i Akina’s weekly “President’s Corner” column for Dec. 18, 2021. If you would like to have his columns emailed to you on a regular basis, please call 808-864-1776 or email info@grassrootinstitute.org.

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