Economy's stuck until ...
know when the political establishment is getting serious about tackling
our economic problems. It will be when they cease to use minor issues
to distract us from their lack of seriousness about our economy. And it
will be when at least two of the following three items are up for discussion
as budget cuts.
First, they consider totally defunding the University of Hawaii's Center
for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR). The Legislature established
CLEAR in 1976 "to provide labor education, research and labor-related
programs to workers and their organizations." In short, it was to fund
research and training for Hawaii's unions.
Its principals have all been full-time union organizers
and remain active in their unions today. Dr. Puette, its Director, helped
lead Hawaii's first teachers' strike. (1) He and
his team have written, among others, "A Picket Guide for Hawai'i Public
Employees." It is available from UH for 50¢. (2)
It is only appropriate that Hawaii's unions have this kind of research
centeróbut at union expense, not that of us taxpayers. At a time when
our public worker unions are bringing our economy to its knees, having
taxpayers subsidize them should be unthinkable.
Second, you'll know the political establishment
is really serious about our economy when it starts recommending cuts in
our public education budget. Hawaii's teachers, families and taxpayers
were arguably better off with the public education system we had 25 years
ago. (3) Teachers were better-paid. Allowing for inflation,
they were getting 20% more than today. Families were better off because
the kids were doing better in school. (4) And we taxpayers
were better off because, even allowing for inflation, our taxes for education
were 40% less than today for the same number of students. (3)
You'll know the politicians are getting serious when they start to question
where all the money is going these daysósuch as all the overhead expenditures,
i.e., any not made in the classroom. (5)
Third, you'll know they are really getting serious
when such sacred cows as TheBus come under scrutiny. Today we have a bus
system that is costing us taxpayers close to $100 million annually, about
$500 for each family of four each year. (6) It was
profitable when privately run only 25 years ago. (7)
Then the city took it over. It has good operators but it loses vast sums
each year because politically inspired policies ensure it.
Today, we are seeing bus companies all over the
world turn profitable once they are cut free from politics. (8)
Private operators vary the size of the vehicles they use according to
need instead of one-size-fits-all. They use part-time employees during
the rush hour, charge premium prices for expensive services such as Express
Buses, and so on. A myriad small changes all adding up to turning TheBus
into a profitable operation while improving the service. Today, when you
see a conventional city bus with only a half-dozen passengers just remember
that limousine service is cheaper to operate.
All these matters will require our political establishment to cut loose
from their long-time Hawaii public worker union allies. As the Buddhist
saying has it, they will have to bite into the iron bull. It will be very
tough for them but when they finally tackle these we will finally know
they have gotten serious.
# # #
(1) See CLEAR's own faculty directory for details.
It is available at: http://www-cceCs.arthum.hawaii.edu/clear/Faculty.HTML
(2) Puette, William J. A Picket Guide for Hawai'i
Public Employees: Organizing a Legal Picket Line Under Chapter 89, HRS.
University of Hawaii. 1997. 50¢. At: http://www-cceCs.arthum.hawaii.edu/clear/book6.html
(3) Teacher salaries and
the Honolulu CPI-U as reported by the Hawaii Dept. of Planning, Economic
Development and Tourism (DBEDT).
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports higher actual
salaries than DBEDT. For example, NCES shows Hawaii teachers earning 13%
more in 1995 than 1990 whereas DBEDT shows only 11%. In addition, to allow
for inflation NCES uses national CPI data. National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES) Table 79 is available at: http://nces.ed.gov/nces/pubs/d96/d96t078.html
fell behind the U.S. average comparing 1974/5 with 1993/4 for combined
math and verbal SAT scores. See Table 129, 1995 Digest of Education Statistics,
U.S. Dept. of Education. (back)
(5) See "Where are the teachers"
Also "Why teachers get no apples" -- (back)
(6) Includes average capital outlays in addition to
(7) Annual Report for 1971, Honolulu Rapid
Transit Co. Ltd. See also graph of historical profit and loss at: BUS1.gif
(8) Cox, Wendell and Jean Love and Nick Newton. The
Expansion of Competitive Tendering in International Urban Transport. July
1996. Revised from paper delivered at the 4th International Conference
on Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport. Rotorua, New
Zealand, July 1995. Available at: http://www.publicpurpose.com/pp-ctut.htm
See also Tanzer, Andrew. All aboard for privatization. Forbes
Magazine. October 21, 1997. at: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/102196/5810148a.htm