Monday, April 25, 2011

Problems Big and Small. Sensible Solutions for All.

[This is an enriched version of my TEA 2011 speech at Hawaii Capitol on April 15, 2011]

We got big Problems. So does everybody else… states, the whole country, other countries.
What we need is Sensible Solutions. Instead we get more government solutions and more taxes.

Pension accounts for city and state government employees will be broke soon-- they face huge account deficits and Hawaii leads the way in this. Their solution? Tax pensions or bury their head in the sand. The sensible solution is to raise the retirement age to 70 years of age.

Homelessness. Their solution? Build more public housing. The sensible solution is to take care of the homeless needs and provide transitional housing. Transition the homeless back to normal life. Do not warehouse them. Empower, consolidate and better organize non-profits that care for the homeless. Set limits on the benefits that the homeless receive.

Power. We pay the most for electric power. We complain about the price of gasoline but it’s only 15% more expensive than the mainland average. Our electricity is about 300% more expensive. Whose fault is this?

The legislature's with their "green" objectives that put into effect without any cost analysis, the PUC's controls, and HECO's monopoly. The monopoly buys wind and solar power for 15c per KWh and sells it to ratepayers for 30 to 40 cents.

The sensible solution is to deregulate. Within 20 years we can have a competitive energy market with solar, geothermal, coal, OTEC, biomass, algae, etc.
distributed power providers.

Planning is a big problem. We have the Oahu Metropolitan Organization (OMPO) that coordinates all transportation plans in the city and county of Honolulu. But the key people on the all-important policy committee are the Transportation Committee chairs of the Senate and the House. For many years they are both from Maui. So the county of Maui decides the transportation plans of the county of Honolulu. This absurdity is going on for a decade now and has lead to gross miss-allocation of funds with Honolulu at the losing end.

Traffic is a big problem. We need roads to move over 90% of the people who use vehicles. Instead government plans to waste 6 billion dollars to help the 1% of people on the rail. And cutback TheBus in the process.

TheHandiVan is a costly service. Its archaic and inflexible booking system requires 1 or 2 day advance reservations. This inconvenience costs $35 per rider. TheHandiVan services can be fully substituted by private modified vans of which there are several on island in private transportation. They provide quick and courteous service, local jobs and a modest profit at about $25 per ride. TheHandiVan is proof that Sensible and Government do not go together.

Waste Management is a problem. Their solution? Business as usual: Landfills and expensive, fake recycling. Best solution? Privatization and incentives for remanufacturing. The private sector can deal with landfill issues, burning and recycling. Or sending trash to mainland or Asia. Leave environmental requirements as is, and let the private sector find the solution set including the remanufacture of recycled paper, plastic, fats, oils and lubricants.

Pavements and potholes. Their solution? Neglect, followed by expensive contracts and sloppy pothole plugging by city crews. The sensible solution is to go on routine pavement maintenance so that our local refineries can plan their asphalt production. (I understand one of them has quit making asphalt because of the unpredictability of demand.) Sign 10 year contracts with quality guarantees and price discounts. Get the City out of the pothole repair business.

Sensible Solutions have these basic ingredients: Less centralization, less taxation, less regulation and greater private sector participation.