Honolulu, Hawaii — America's western-most state can parlay its relative isolation and racial diversity into a major trading and cultural role as the ``crossroads of the Pacific,'' says Hawaii Gov. John Waihee. Mr. Waihee, of Chinese-Hawaiian extraction himself, shared his views on the state's future - and one of its current problems, property speculation - in a recent meeting with Asian and American journalists.
The Democratic governor, elected in 1986, says that because of its location, its people, and its racial sensitivity, Hawaii ``can and should be a voice for the emerging Pacific and Asian region.''
`I think we can translate Asia in a way that is objective to the United States, as well as translate the US in a way that is objective to Asia,'' he said.
On trade, he said: ``We're talking about a Pacific Stock Exchange [in Honolulu]. It would revolutionize business practices across the planet because, for the first time, we would be able to trade stocks 24 hours of the day.''
Details of Governor Waihee's remarks: Hawaii's regional role.
I would like to see Hawaii fulfill its desire to become truly the crossroads of the Pacific, and take an active part in the development of this whole region. We don't have to trot out the statistics to demonstrate that the Pacific is the region of the 21st century [economically].
We Hawaiians [must] carve out a niche for ourselves ... be active participants.
The first [area] is in the transference of knowledge ... through our institutions and ability to cross-fertilize information. We can offer our unique contribution in products ... of the future such as astronomy, space, oceanography. The state's economic role.
[The Pacific Stock Exchange in Honolulu] would revolutionize business practices across the planet, because for the first time, we would be able to trade stocks 24 hours of the day. Between Tokyo, Honolulu, New York, and Hong Kong, you [would] never, ever not be able to buy or sell. A highly different kind of financial market would occur. Cultural contribution.
Hawaii, because of its location, its people, its sensitivity, can and should be a voice for the emerging Pacific and Asian region. I think we can translate Asia in a way that is objective to the US, as well as translate the US in a way that is objective to Asia.
We can also speak for the aspirations of benignly neglected nations in the Pacific - because we consider ourselves part of that [group] - and [demonstrate] what the Pacific Ocean means in terms of its people. Japanese purchases.
Efforts to pass a bill to restrict land sales to US citizens [are] ill-conceived. Such a solution is not warranted. [It] misses the point. ... We need to be just as concerned about speculators from New York [or] ... anywhere else.
That's not to say there isn't a problem [with speculation]. It's very hard for me to see that a person buying 200 houses [an apparent reference to a certain Japanese businessman] in a housing-short market is contributing to the economic welfare of the state. That smells like speculation... Preventing speculation.
First of all, the remedies ought to be proportionate to the problem. [One measure] is to pass a tax which taxes the higher priced sales, and sends a signal that we now have a remedy that would make it less profitable. There are also ways of [controlling] the zoning process that would make speculation a little harder.
And finally ... property taxes. We should tax on actual market sales. Those that sell [and] make money, pay high tax. And those that prefer not to sell shouldn't be penalized.