Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On “What is Hawaii’s Problem?”


When I was interviewing to lead the State of Hawaii’s leading agency for tech-based economic development, I was asked by one of the hiring committee members, “I’m asking you seriously. What is Hawaii’s problem?”

I didn’t say “The Jones Act“, as the Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz would have said. Duopoly would have been another reasonable economic response (though I would describe it more as a monopoly and its sidekick, as there tends to be one clear market leader and then a distant second, where it wouldn’t be called a monopoly technically, but tends to act as one). Geographical reasons such as its remoteness would be valid, as is energy cost.

Instead, I said “Lack of self-esteem.”

There is a sense of acknowledging itself as second class to the point where questions like “Are we important?”, “Do we have something to say?” aren’t raised.

After the interview, I went on a two-month road trip around the U.S., and I confirmed what was already in my heart: Hawaii is a special place, with incredible culture and lessons to be shared with the rest of the world.

After being away from Hawaii for two years in Europe, my conviction that Hawaii is an incredible place which intrinsically knows how to establish and enjoy racial harmony, something others with greater economic stability, social benefits, and education have not figured out.

If asked again, I would still respond, “Lack of self-esteem,” because if Hawaii thought it deserved better, it has the talent to secure the resources necessary to overcome or make obsolete the challenges of the Jones Act, duopolies, geographical isolation and the high energy cost.

Photo: Keahole lobster dish at Chef Mavro, Honolulu, Hawaii…a creation without self-esteem problems.


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This entry was posted on June 11, 2015 by in Culture, Hawaii and tagged , , .
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