Will history someday record an 'economic miracle' for Lahaina?
from Grassroot Institute, November 24, 2023
Germany rebounded quickly from World War II after it rejected central planning and embraced greater economic freedom
A rebuilt Lahaina might not resemble the picture-perfect town that existed before the wildfires that razed it on Aug. 8. But either way, deregulation and a respect for property rights would enable residents of the area to more quickly get back on their feet, according to Keli‘i Akina, Grassroot president and CEO, writing in Monday's edition of the national RealClearPolicy news site.
Akina wrote that it will take years for the former whaling town and tourism mecca to rise from the ashes, but how many years will depend on which path is taken.
"Will it involve a long, drawn-out, top-down planning process dictated by government officials that likely would make few people happy other than the planning officials?" he asked. "Or will it involve a respect for property rights and significant deregulation that, as with Germany’s “economic miracle” after World War II, likely would result in a quick and robust recovery?"
Akina said even if Hawaii's central planners keep their distance, "it will still be difficult to rebuild Lahaina quickly because of all the many existing state and county regulations that have hindered Hawaii’s economy all along" — including some of the nation’s most burdensome land-use and zoning regulations.
Other roadblocks, he said, are the state’s high tax burden, its many occupational licensure laws , and extra transportation costs imposed by the federal Jones Act.
All things considered, Akina said, it’s little wonder that tens of thousands of residents have been leaving the state every year since 2016 to live in more friendly, lower-cost states such as Texas, Florida and Nevada. Since the fires also destroyed thousands of jobs on Maui, this exodus is likely to escalate.
"In general," Akina said, "suspend or loosen state land-use laws and the county’s zoning code so Lahaina residents can start reclaiming their lives. Repeal or reduce the requirements for lot sizes, setbacks, parking, accessory dwelling units and multifamily homes. The mayor and Council already have been offering property tax relief, but more can be done."
Akina said if all this were to be done, "someday we all might find ourselves talking about Lahaina’s 'economic miracle.'”
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RCP: Property Rights, Deregulation Lahaina’s Best Hope