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Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Yesterday I provided some background of what I have attempted to do to bring greatness to Hawaii.  Clearly, I've failed, for the State is on the verge of crashing, probably does not realize this and seems unable to want to do anything about it.  I'm an optimist, but yet fear the worst, and you can read the details I've provided over the past few years at this site.

Today I wear my positive attitude hat and suggest how we can avoid disaster by instead becoming great.  A point to underscore is, replace Hawaii with where you're from and, by adjusting the details, just apply these suggestions to your situation.

Everyone knows that we can't depend on tourism to support our economy and provide ideal jobs for our children's children.  How can a small (less than 1.5 million people with 0.3% of the national land area) entity and most remotely positioned community escape this potential treadmill to doom?

Scientific American recently had a custom media special (also known as a commercial) entitled SINGAPORE:  A Smart Nation.  You scoff, how can Hawaii become the next Singapore?  Decent question, for we seem mired in jealous politics, union-labor-industry dysfunction, and a society which just cannot do anything together.  Exactly the opposite of Singapore, which, further, has:
  • a population of 5.5 million, with nearly 75% of Chinese extraction, and
  • status as a nation.

For one, Hawaii and the USA have a GDP/capita of $56,000, exactly the same as Singapore's.  Hawaii, furthermore, has 39 times more land space than Singapore...10,931 square miles to 272 square miles (half the area of London!).  Singapore (the purple space to the right) is about the size of the island of Lanai.  Hawaii has exceptional beauty, while Singapore seems like mostly a landfill.

Most important of all, we have ALOHA, while the quality of humanitarianism is missing in Singapore.  We have ideal weather in a geophysical setting that is both a hub for and interface of East and West, while Singapore is 88 miles from the equator.  Hawaii, in particular, has a plethora of natural energy opportunities.

The primary difference is that Hawaii has a democracy, while Singapore, officially a unitary parliamentary republic, in reality, has a benevolent authority.  It once was a benevolent dictatorship under Yew Kuan Lee, who passed away a year ago.  His son now is Prime Minister.  Their government is efficient.  Hawaii is about as bad as you can get, although India is worse.

Our mixed plate of ethnic groups (39% Asian, 25% White, 10% Polynesian, 9% Hispanic, plus...) should be an advantage, and, like in Singapore, there is relative harmony.  The three-fourths Chinese fraction in Singapore should not necessarily be an advantage, for China is almost 100% Chinese, and they are in a metastable state of controlled free enterprise in the midst of considerable graft and general unhappiness.

In many ways, Hawaii is positioned to become efficient.  Democrats totally control the State, which should make it easier to reach a higher level of cooperation, if you only can eliminate those egos and ambitions.  A Constitutional Convention will just exacerbate the politics.

There does not appear to be a King Kamehameha-type individual to bring together the competing forces for the common good.    Then again, a Kamehameha process for control would not work today.

The simple solution to get people to work in union is a mega-crisis.  But that is no way to plan, that is, wait for an economic depression or tragic natural disaster to induce leaders to agree on a unified effort.

Confoundingly, what can Hawaii do?  I've said this before, and I'll say it again:  take steps to make the University of Hawaii a world class institution, and in parallel, focus on a few areas where Hawaii can take the world leadership role, starting with sustainability and the Blue Revolution.

Part One is to merge the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology with the College of Engineering, College of Business, and elements of the the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, plus portions of the College of Agriculture and Human Resources, into a mega school with no departments and no research institutions.  The new superstructure must be fashioned to stimulate multidisciplinary partnerships in academics and research, plus link with the community.


Part Two can trump academic and  community inertia.  This simplest of solutions will insure for the fruition of Part One.  The University needs to gain the confidence and financial support of at least one super billionaire, and a few of his rich friends.  This SB would indicate that he will provide several billion to the University only if it agrees to develop this School of Sustainability.  If, by some major miracle, this first wealthy individual can be so convinced, it should be easier to bring on board a second billionaire to transform our athletic programs, not unlike what happened to the University of Oregon (Phil Knight of Nike) and Oklahoma State University (T. Boone Pickens).  The third billionaire would be tapped to build up that Pacific-Asian program and related fields.

When I posted the above nearly four years ago, I said:

There are 1226 billionaires having a net worth of $4.6 trillion. With 425, the USA has the most.  China has 95 and Japan 30.  We only need three.

There are now 1,810 billionaires with a net worth of $6.5 trillion.

While this is going on in academia, the more difficult part to develop greatness needs to occur in the community.  How do you get companies, unions, governments, investors and the populace working together?  If  Part 1 at the University of Hawaii can show any movement, that should stimulate a few more positive attitudes in the State.  What has Singapore done?
  • mobile penetration rate of 150%, or ubiquitous connectivity, or more specifically, 8.2 million mobile subscriptions for 5.5 million people
  • single level of government for decisiveness
  • a melting pot for technologies and their commercialization
  • business friendly environment
  • well-educated, forward looking population
  • world's best mass transit system, where  80% of households are within a 10-minute walk to a train station, and a system where 75% are using this mode of travel during peak hours
  • focus on smart and bio technologies, with one company increasing food production by a factor of ten
  • a massive government sponsored area for 500 start-up companies, in partnership with academia, provided credit lines
  • life expectancy of 83 (Hawaii is at 80 and U.S. 77)
In half a century, Singapore went from a third world country to become a world leader.  This could take Hawaii 50 years, but you got to start now, for we can't just wait for a transforming cataclysm.  How?  I continue to have this profound sense that we have most of the decisive factors at hand.  It comes down to people, will and some enlightened leadership.  Maybe it's time for Hawaiian god Maui to make a re-appearance, and use his ka hei to recapture the Sun.  Well, anyone got a better idea?


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