Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Kaimanu Takayama, Libertarian candidate for state representative for District 48. Democrats Robert Harris and Jarrett Keohokalolo and Republican Eldean Kukahiko are also running.

District 51 includes KaneoheHeeiaAhuimanuKahaluuHaiku Valley and Mokuoloe.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Name: Kaimanu Takayama

Office: State Representative District 48

Party: Libertarian

Profession: Self-employed, alternative medicine/energy therapy

Education: B.A. Psychology

Age: 42

Kaimanu Takayama

Kaimanu Takayama

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

For many years, I have sat by while focusing on my own life and hoped that our elected representatives would recognize that they have stepped far outside the bounds intended by our founding fathers and that their policies of “more government, more regulation, more taxation” were doing more harm than good. Politics has become more about money and connections than about doing what is right and moral. It’s time that the public took back control of our political process, reined in an out of control bureaucracy, and start holding officials accountable for their actions, especially when there are negative consequences. 

2. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?

No, as with most government budgets, unfunded liabilities are usually provided through debt (loans and bonds) which become the responsibility for future generations to pay. This problem is further compounded by the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve which devalues our currency and continually drives the costs of goods and services higher while wages remain stagnant. First, our government employees must be proactive and accept responsibility for their health and their future and not rely on government funds to carry them through their retirement. Each person must be responsible for their own long-term well-being and financial security. Dollar-for-dollar, public employees make far more in salary and benefits than private sector employees and these costs are paid for by the taxpayers through higher taxes and fees. Second, we need to reform health care and get the government and insurance companies out, allowing the free market to determine health care costs. Government and insurance companies are driving health care costs higher through intervention which means that the state will continue to see its share of the burden increase as time goes on. If health care were a “cash and carry” service, prices for services would drop significantly as providers would not be able to charge exorbitant fees, usually set though government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and that are paid by insurance companies who pass those costs onto subscribers in the form of higher premiums and co-pays. Third, we need to remove the Federal Reserve and reinstate the U.S. Treasury as the controller of fiscal policy in America. The U.S. Treasury can do what the Fed does for less cost, with less bureaucracy, and at no interest. As long as the Fed is able to print worthless paper and push it out into circulation, the value of each dollar we hold will continue to decrease, as was witnessed in Weimar, Germany, and Zimbabwe.   

3. Local officials and advocates have worked to address homelessness for years, yet the crisis is growing. What proposals do you have for this complicated issue?

Forbes Magazine has estimated that the Jones Act, which limits how goods can be shipped to and from the state of Hawaii, results in an approximate 30 percent increase in the cost of living for island residents. While not the only factor relating to homelessness, we live in one of the most expensive states in the union and the cost of housing is directly related to the health of our economy. In repealing the Jones Act, a 30 percent reduction in the cost of living would hopefully translate into a reduction in the cost of housing and improved job opportunities as employers would have more disposable funds to invest in their companies.

In direct relation to working with the homeless, I support reducing and eventually eliminating all welfare entitlement programs (food stamps, welfare, WIC, etc.) and shifting those funds to programs directly related to housing people, getting them off the street, teaching them basic living skills, providing job skills and training, providing mental health and substance abuse counseling, and transitioning them to independent housing. People cannot be forced to do anything they do not want to do so unfortunately, many people will choose to live on the streets and trying to legislate against homelessness will have little effect. We must focus our efforts on those who want to improve their lives and take away the incentive to remain homeless or destitute as is often the case with people who become trapped in the welfare mindset and lifestyle. People must learn to be 100 percent responsible for the life they create and the best we can do is offer alternatives for them when they are ready.

4. Where do you stand on labeling genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated?

The science behind genetically-modified foods is untested as far as long-term effects on human health are concerned. Based on my personal investigation, I do not support GMOs, purchase and consume non-GMO products as much as possible, and would prefer a temporary ban be implemented until more rigorous independent testing can be completed to determine any possible negative health effects and to confirm the purported benefits touted by large Agro-corporations creating and pushing these products.

However, since I recognize that GMOs have already become widely used in commercial food production and that the majority of corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet crops produced in the United States, as well as some potatoes and wheat, are already GMO, it would be extremely difficult to completely remove them from our food supply. So for now, I would support mandatory labeling of any product containing GMOs with strict fines for companies that are found in violation while continuing to support independent studies, free of federal or corporate influence, on their safety and efficacy. Should these studies prove that GMOs are not only a health risk to humans but also that they provide none of the touted benefits, I would support a complete and total ban on their cultivation and use.

5. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the country by many indicators. What can really be done to make things like housing, food and transportation less expensive?

As stated above, start with repealing the Jones Act, allowing Hawaii to import and export products directly from other countries. Repeal the Federal Reserve and return control of the currency to the U.S. Treasury to slow down inflation. Start focusing efforts on developing more local and sustainable agriculture, including the production of industrial hemp, and reduce our reliance on imported goods. Eliminate corporate taxes and reduce unnecessary federal regulations that are stifling business creation and expansion in America and impose tariffs on imported goods to bring them more in line with U.S. products. Eliminate all non-apportioned taxes, including the income tax, and replace them with a single flat-rate sales tax not applicable to food and medical care. And reducing the size and scope of government to lower costs and bureaucracy, returning control of things like education, transportation, health care, emergency services, etc. to counties and local municipalities. The free market can work when government does not intercede and as long as government continues to try and regulate society, costs will continue to skyrocket.  

6. Would you support using liquified natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources? And how can we improve the electrical distribution system so more renewable energy can be utilized to bring costs down?

The major issue with so called “renewable energy” being pushed by our governments is the lack of storage. Solar and wind are excellent alternatives to oil and gas. The problem is that the sun and wind are not available 24/7 so even people like myself who have invested in PV systems still require the availability of a public utility for when there is no sun available. Given Hawaii’s tropical location, we should be supporting free market innovation and companies who can develop and market cost effective and environmentally friendly ways to store and use electricity generated by the sun and wind during off periods. There are many different technologies being developed around the globe in this area and companies who can succeed in bringing an affordable solution to homeowners will make great strides in decreasing our dependence on importing oil and gas.

Additionally, solar and wind are not the only technologies being developed around the world. There are several far more exotic technologies that are being ignored by our governments and could go much further than any “green energy” possibly could. Our schools, especially the University of Hawaii, should be focusing more energy into investigating these viable alternatives and working with private companies to develop the technologies for the free market.   

7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Yet many citizens are unable to afford the costs that state and local government agencies impose. Would you support eliminating search and redaction charges and making records free to the public except for basic copying costs?

Yes, an open and transparent government is tantamount to a free society.

8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better?

No, and I do not see a bright future as Hawaii begins to implement Common Core and more standardized testing. The purpose of education is to teach children to be innovators, to develop critical thinking, to be individuals who recognize and use their strengths and weaknesses to their own benefit, and to develop skills they will utilize in their career of choice and they need to be successful in life. America’s education system is moving in a direction following the Communist model where children are being taught to conform, obey, memorize, and regurgitate. If we want our children to have an optimistic future, we must first return control of our schools to the local level and get federal money out of education. There should be no such thing as “public education” so schools should no longer be funded by taxes collected from property owners. The costs for education should be funded directly by each parent(s) and they should have the ability to choose what school they want to send their children to. This competition between schools for students would drive up innovation and push both students and teachers to be as successful as possible and failing schools would not be able to retain students, forcing them to make changes or close. Making individual schools financially responsible for their own affairs would also reduce bureaucracy and push accountability. Finally, eliminating the teachers union would go a long way as teachers need to be held accountable for their performance in the classroom. Teacher salary should be based on performance and student success and failing teachers should be dismissed and replaced, which is difficult with the current teachers union and contract.      

9. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?

The use and regulation of environmental resources should be controlled at the local and state level so that people who live in and near those communities, not federal or international bodies, set the guidelines. At this time, the United States is currently implementing by stealth Agenda 21 policies on “sustainability” that are set by the United Nations and influenced by large international corporations. Any time developments or community changes/upgrades are proposed, a referendum should be presented to the residents in that area who will be directly affected by the changes and there should be full disclosure as to the costs, environmental impact, affect on utilities and transportation, and mitigation efforts to prevent negative outcomes. Also, reforming the political process to keep money out of politics would go a long way toward limiting development and protecting resources as companies would no longer be able to buy favor from elected representatives for influencing approval of developments without more public input.  

10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

Primarily, I want to stress the importance for people to become knowledgeable and proactive in political and civic discourse. We can no longer sit idly by and hope that the people that we elect, who are often chosen for office based on public image, media presentation, and promises that are never intended to be kept, will work in the best interest of their constituents. The problems currently facing our state and our nation were predominantly created through our ignorance and apathy as we have allowed corporate and banking entities to influence and distort the three branches of government and the founding principles which are necessary to maintain freedom and sovereignty. We have allowed a corporate-owned and complicit media to influence our perceptions and thereby the choices that we make. Albert Einstein defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. If people continue to support a broken two-party political system and voting for the same politicians or groups who got us into this mess, nothing is going to improve. Study our history. Research the writings of the founding fathers and other great minds who contributed to the foundations of our freedom and way of life. Make the effort to understand our system of law/justice and how our government functions. Turn off the TV and try to (re)connect with nature and the people in your community. Change on the macro (external) level cannot be achieved until we first find it on the micro (internal) level so each person must take a long hard look at the life they are living, the life they want to live, and how to reconcile the two to find peace and prosperity not just for themselves but for every one of us in this great experiment known as the United States of America.