Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Cayetano calls Forbes’ latest
Hawaii article ‘a cheap shot’

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Hawaii's high taxes, high cost of living, strong unions, mandatory employer-paid health insurance and tough environmental and conservation laws have again attracted the attention of Forbes magazine, which this week gave Honolulu its "booby prize for economic development."

Gov. Ben Cayetano called the article "a cheap shot."

In a piece titled "Why doing business in Honolulu has become nearly equivalent to suicide" in the May 27 issue, Forbes writer Lynn J. Cook said Honolulu's economy was already dried up before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Take an island paradise, with year-round balmy weather and immense value to tourists, add a heavy dose of socialism and you get an economic basket case," Cook wrote.

Later in talking about the Legislature's bill to cap gasoline prices in Hawaii, Cook added: "Fidel Castro would feel right at home here."

Hawaii's economy and politics have been a popular target over the past decade for the magazine published by 2000 Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

"Every election year they do this to us," Cayetano said yesterday. "It's one thing to disagree with some of the things that we have done. It's another thing to label this state as a people's republic and a socialistic state which Fidel Castro would enjoy living.

"Those kind of comments just tell you how far right this organization is and it's a disservice to the people of Hawaii," he said. "People who want to explore business opportunities in Hawaii will come to Hawaii if there is an opportunity to make profits here and there are opportunities and there are people coming, regardless of what Forbes or anyone else says."

Tim Lyons, executive vice president of the Hawaii Business League, said he understands the frustrations of business people in Hawaii, but believes part of the reason Forbes focuses on Hawaii is its Democratic politics and strong labor unions.

"We're an easy target to pick on," Lyons said.

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