Hawaii’s cost-of-living problem is an economic freedom problem, according to Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President Keliʻi Akina.
“It’s the frog-in-the-kettle syndrome,” he told KHVH radio host Rick Hamada on Jan. 25. “We get used to the low level of economic freedom here in Hawaii, but we don’t realize that that’s the reason our children are leaving. They can’t afford the cost of living. They can’t afford to buy a house. They can’t afford to live on the wages in the job market here in Hawaii.
“All of those are symptoms of not having a high level of economic freedom. … So, we’ve got to look at the actual causes of our problem. Not just the symptoms.”
Akina said reducing “the inordinate amount of government regulation” that has made homebuilding so expensive in Hawaii is key to addressing the state’s economic freedom issue when it comes to housing. He also said he appreciates that state legislators on both sides of the aisle seem to have finally grasped that.
Rather than chase after more regulations or propose government-run housing projects at the expense of taxpayers, Akina said this year’s Legislature is considering 15 measures supported by the Grassroot Institute “that bring down regulation, that make it more affordable to build, and encourage the economic freedom of businesses to be able to build.”
Akina said he hopes lawmakers will “do more than talk, that they’ll actually act,” but at least “they are right on the money when they recognize that it is just too expensive for people to acquire housing … and we’re losing our population to places like Texas or Nevada and elsewhere where people can actually afford homes.”
To hear Akina’s entire 17-minute conversation with Hamada, click on the image below.