Friday, April 10, 2009
Google will spread this bad news about Hawaii far and wide
by Larry Geller
Strategically, Hawaii needs to move onwards and upwards from the Superferry fiasco, so it is strange to see a member of the legislature’s Small Business Caucus damaging the state’s rep.
In an op-ed today, Representative Gene Ward reassures the world that Hawaii is a bad place to do business. By the end of today, because Google has picked it up, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people will read his declaration and some might be convinced.
Search engines allow anyone to research everyone and everything. All is revealed. The more hits an article gets (and newspaper articles get among the most), the higher they rise in the search lists. So with this article, Rep. Ward has now reinforced the idea that Hawaii is bad for business.
Anyone checking us out will learn plenty about the Superferry, but now, from Ward’s article, they’ll learn specifically:
- “years of trying to convince the world that Hawai'i is "open for business" have been flushed down the toilet.”
- The legislature engaged in “a 12-month political game.”
- We have one of those “an activist judiciaries” that Republicans hate.
- “Businesses need predictability. Businesses are reluctant to risk their capital if they can't receive assurances that the rules won't change in mid-stream,” but the state legislature is willing to change the rules mid-stream to benefit a single company (and shucks, it didn’t work).
- Be careful doing business in Hawaii, the courts usurp the role of the legislature here.
- The legislature regularly passes specific laws such as the one the Supreme Court just struck down—for example, the rail tax.
- Government services in Hawaii are overburdened (yes, Rep. Ward said that).
- Better not come here because a court decision has resulted in “possibly hampering our economic growth and prosperity for years to come”.
Look, he said these things, not me. Won’t someone researching Hawaii as a place to locate a business be turned off if they believe that a single court decision will, indeed, hamper our economic growth and prosperity for years to come?
To enhance Hawaii’s chances and help pull us out of recession, let’s emphasize our advantages and the positive supports we provide to small and large business and stop demonstrating to the world how badly we screwed up once.
Our "bad for biz" rep goes way beyond HSF. There is very good reasons why Forbes, Fortune and other journalists consistently group us in the "bad for biz" listings. It's not just the availability of materials, but our labor pool (talent, attitude, retention, etc) is shallow, taxes high, and state-mandated health insurance (only HI does this) is outrageous. Now, HMSA is crying for another 12.5% increase on top of the 10.5% they got last year...all a burden on the employer of 20+ hr/wk employees.
I was a biz owner for many years before retiring here and I would NEVER consider starting a biz here of any substantial size.
Not only does the editorial continue to spread the anti-business message, as you so astutely point out, but it is filled with half-truths, not the least of which is that Love's produces "high-quality" products. This thing read like a promo for Love's (and was probably ghost-written by its PR firm) and is more of the same tiresome dogma we've been hearing since the Court decision. According to them, nothing that happened was HSF's fault. Yawn. With all that's going on, can't The Advertiser drum up some fresh perspectives for its guest commentaries?
Reposting my comment on that lame op-ed:
Re: "Capital goes where it is welcome...stays where it is appreciated...."
...and eventually leaves where it cannot create a return on investment.
Let us be clear, mixed signals from the Hawaii executive and arbitrary special treatment laws from the legislative branches were not the determining factor and cannot make up for a flawed business plan down to the actual engines of the business.
They could have tried to stay but didn't. In fact, they were gone lickety split. That should tell you something. Leases that cover all of their costs will be better than anything that those two vessels could return to.