Editor’s Scratchpad

Friday, December 6, 2002

Don’t let shippers
gouge us, either

How much unsolicited advice are Hawaii's new governor and various elected members of Congress getting? Probably too much -- and not enough.

Here's an easy one that doesn't require a lot of brainpower, endless committees or consultancy fees, which is likely why it hasn't occurred to any of our elected representatives.

It's called "product fulfillment," and it's a basic building block of boutique businesses. You order something; it's shipped to you. Someone orders something from you; you ship it to them. The problem with creating a "Made in Hawaii" label with real cachet is that the default shipping method used by most companies is FedEx or UPS, and both of these private companies jack up the rates alarmingly when shipping things into or out of Hawaii.

Our island businesses are forced to use mainland warehousing and mainland product-fulfillment agencies, and that leaves Hawaii out of the loop.

The answer: Don't allow FedEx, UPS or any other shipping company to charge extra to or from Hawaii. And yes, the government can do that. The companies will plead additional expense (which is nonsense) and may end up raising rates elsewhere, but it's fair to charge the other states a few extra pennies if it means Hawaii's businesses are allowed onto a level playing field.

Will a Republican governor and a Republican-majority Congress go for it? Why not? After all, it is one job of our elected officials to regulate interstate commerce.

Burl Burlingame

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