You Can Have That Road, Alphonse … No! You Take It, Gaston!

You Can Have That Road, Alphonse … No! You Take It, Gaston!

CNBC’s recent rankings of “America’s Top States for Business” pegged Hawaii at #50 overall, despite a #1 rating for quality of life. One factor that led to Hawaii’s rock-bottom position was the condition of its roads and bridges. A big contributor to this state of affairs is that the State and counties aren’t clear on which roads they own, they don’t want to maintain them if they don’t know that they own them, and so there are a number of roads that are not getting maintained. Welcome to “Roads in Limbo.” When Hawaii was a kingdom, there were no counties; all roads belonged to the people through the sovereign. The counties were established in 1905, and while the counties were given certain rights and duties with respect to the roads in the following years, the division of roads into territorial and county highways did not happen until 1947. The law now defining state versus county highways, which dates back to 1963, refers to state highways as those acquired by or under jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, and county highways as all other public highways. The law also mentions private roads that are surrendered or dedicated to the government and clearly says that in that context the government’s legislative body (such as the county council) needs to accept the dedication before the government takes over the road. The big question left open by these provisions is what happens to roads that were never private, but were originally government roads. Is the State allowed to say, “Hey, county, this road is in miserable, substandard condition so it’s now yours, you...
To Taxi or Ride-share?: Limiting Government’s Role

To Taxi or Ride-share?: Limiting Government’s Role

Across the nation, a “horizontal” battle between taxi cab companies and emerging ride-share networks such as Uber and Lyft is unfolding. Unfortunately, a profound “vertical” battle, can be overlooked – and that is the battle between the free market and government over-regulation. Asked where Grassroot stands, we are promoters of the free market. There are many heroes of the free market in the taxi industry who have struggled for decades to cut a path through government over-regulation. There are also emerging entrants to the market via ride-sharing who are seeking a place. Unfortunately, government regulation can be wielded as a tool to favor or oppose selected competitors. Legislators should, therefore, be urged to limit regulation to what is minimally necessary to ensure the public safety and welfare. And these regulations should then be applied equitably to taxi and ride-sharing companies and drivers. As a principle, government regulation should not be used to decide the contest between market competitors. After all, the consumer should be king, not the government. When the free market works to this end, competitive businesses become even more competitive, and consumers gain more and better...
Does the TSA Make Us Less Safe?

Does the TSA Make Us Less Safe?

Sometimes when I’m in line at airport security, I like to imagine that I’m a ninja trying to get through their defenses.  I imagine hopping over the scanner, throwing some ninja stars, and then flying up the escalator with my grappling hook.  It’s a good thought experiment to see if there’s a hole in their security. But then one day I realized, there is a hole.  A huge hole.  It’s a design flaw at the checkpoint which invites anyone to wreak all kinds of havoc.  If a terrorist wanted to kill a bunch of people, he could simply throw a grenade into the middle of the crowd of people at the TSA. And if a grenade seems too far fetched, then what about a luggage bomb?  It would be pretty easy to get a whole bunch of luggage bombs to go off in that big crowd of people. Many times the airport security can be easily accessed from the road.  A car with bombs and guns could easily take out a whole crowd of people waiting in line to take their shoes and belts off. A study by the RAND corporation showed 11 holes in TSA defenses, and the top three were truck bombs, car bombs, and luggage bombs.  The study recommended that the best way to keep people safe is to, “limit the density of people standing in line”. Yeah, that sounds pretty good!  Let’s speed up the line.  Maybe then more people would make their flights on time. After all, the whole point of airport security is to protect people in airplanes where everyone is huddled together.  So how...
Video: Is Uber Super?

Video: Is Uber Super?

In this edition of E Hana Kakou, Grassroot President Keli’i Akina interviews Dale Evans, owner of Charley’s Taxi. After exploring the history of how taxi services developed in Hawaii–especially in contrast to the closed-market “medallion” systems often used in the mainland–Keli’i and Dale go on to discuss the place of government regulation in the industry. The revelation that Honolulu’s taxi services are fundamentally small (often family-owned) businesses creates a different perspective from which to consider the growth of unregulated ride-sharing services like Uber. Watch the episode in its entirety below or click here to view on You...