Basic Income and Livable Wages
I had my first “real” job when I was 14 years old, where I moved around inventory at a warehouse and constructed shelving and office furniture for the company that was moving in. Since then, I’ve had a whole lot of different types of jobs. Sometimes, I even juggled up to three at once.
The income I have made in over twenty years of working has helped me to afford schooling, feed my family, and acquire other basic needs. I have been fortunate and privileged. However, by no stretch of the meaning of the word can I say that I am truly living “comfortable.” I still have student loans to pay, housing costs, vehicle costs, and other bills to pay in addition to the cost of basic necessities that are often priced higher than the national average. That’s the reality for a great many people who call Hawai‘i home, especially those who have been here for multiple generations.
Hawai‘i has the highest cost of living in the Nation. Its residents are the deepest in debt. It’s the worst state to make a living. It’s the worst state for middle class (and I imagine it’s the same for lower income household). Has the second highest tax burden in the Nation. Nearly 31% of our families don’t make enough to cover basic needs. And almost half of us are most-likely to live paycheck to paycheck.
It’s become apparent that living in Hawai‘i presents its own hurdle in the severe financial burden that it imposes on a substantial number of residents – this is a hurdle that residents cannot traverse without direct assistance from our state government in combination with favorable economic conditions created by our state government.
Providing basic income, a livable sum of money (similar to Social Security), at first to our most vulnerable members of our community, like our kupuna (elders) and low income families, is the kind of direct assistance our state government could endeavor to relieve our residents from the cost-burden of living in Hawai‘i. I also believe that this assistance should be available to our working families in the federal system, who suffer at times of political maneuvering resulting in “government shutdowns.”
Likewise, our state government could increase the minimum wage to one that is calculated in response to Hawai‘i’s high cost of living and it could also subsidize locally grown produce or manufactured items that are sold locally at affordable prices in order to promote a Hawai‘i-based business environment that is beneficial to both seller and buyer. All of this will require a significant amount of additional income for the State and this is, again, why I support the introduction of new economic sectors that have the capacity of boosting existing sectors, while also encouraging the establishment of even more economic opportunities.