Financial implications of return to Kingdom of Hawaii

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By Tom Yamachika June 1, 2014

Special to West Hawaii Today

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was just in the news because its CEO, Kamanaopono Crabbe, wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking for a legal opinion on Hawaii’s sovereign status. One of the key questions raised in the letter is “Does the Hawaiian Kingdom continue to exist?”

I will leave it to others to answer that question, but, supposing the Kingdom coexists with the State of Hawaii, what tax and public finance implications can we expect?

Throughout its history, the U.S. government has had to coexist with independent sovereign entities known as Native American tribes. During this time, rules and procedures have been adopted allowing both to exist with a fair amount of autonomy and dignity for each. The Akaka Bill aimed to reconstitute a Native Hawaiian governing entity and then have it recognized by the federal government the same way Native American tribes are.

Typically, tribes have space set aside within a state, which we call a “reservation.” On the reservation, the tribal government not only provides governance, but also provides the services necessary to maintain a civilized society. Those services, like any others provided by any other government, need to be paid for. So the tribal government has the power to impose taxes upon those living on the reservation. Those on the reservation pay tribal taxes, not state or federal taxes. But neither the state nor the federal government is obligated to provide the reservation with infrastructure, police, fire protection, a militia, or anything else people typically look to government to provide.

By the same token, anything off the reservation is part of the state. An individual living off the reservation, even though ethnically or otherwise a member of a tribe, is considered a state resident and pays federal and state taxes like any other resident. This makes sense because that person is a beneficiary of the services and society provided by the federal and state governments, and should pay for those services like any other person living there.

The same theories apply for the island possessions of the United States, such as Guam and American Samoa. Each island has a government that imposes its own tax and provides its own services. For example, those living in Guam pay Guam tax, while ethnic Guamanians living in the U.S. pay federal and state taxes.

Applying these concepts to the Native Hawaiian situation raises familiar issues. The Kingdom of Hawaii currently has neither a monarch nor anything generally recognized by its members as a government. That’s why the Akaka Bill proposed, and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission is moving toward, a process for getting a number of Native Hawaiians together and having them organize themselves.

Once that happens, however, some kind of dedicated space is needed for the nation-within-a-nation model to work. We certainly hope that no one is thinking the citizens of the reconstituted Kingdom living on state lands, and taking advantage of the benefits and services offered by the state and federal governments, will then claim they don’t have to pay for them. That’s simply not reasonable. People paid taxes in the old Kingdom, and those in the reconstituted Kingdom shouldn’t expect something different. We all need to be aware that both benefits and burdens flow from being a part of civilized society.

Tom Yamachika is interim president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

Kingdom of Hawaii may still exist, challenges US over sovereignty

May 22, 2014

Australia Network News

 

Photo: Bluejackets of the USS Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, January 1893. (Hawaii State Archives: PP-36-3-002)

Photo: Bluejackets of the USS Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, January 1893. (Hawaii State Archives: PP-36-3-002)

The CEO of the Hawaiian Affairs Office (OHA) has retained his job and gained public support to challenge the US on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists as a sovereign country.

Kamanaopono Crabbe sparked an internal crisis when he sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, asking for a ruling on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still legally exists.

The letter, which was quickly rescinded by the OHA’s trustees, was prompted by the US Government’s acknowledgment that the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893 was illegal.

Political scientist Dr Keanu Sai, from Windward Communtiy College in Honolulu, told Pacific Beat the OHA board thought Dr Crabbe had violated their policy by sending the letter without approval, but later realised they were mistaken.

“[Dr Crabbe] was not in violation of any policy of the board but rather was operating on his diligence and risk management,” Dr Sai said.

Mr Crabbe has now won the support of the OHA trustees, who have moved to send the letter again and retain him in his role as CEO.

“They’re in full support and they say that his questions definitely do have merit.”

Public support for Mr Crabbe’s campaign is also growing, with 2,500 people signing an online petition.

Dr Sai said Hawaiians need clarification on the issue.

“What was overthrown was the government, not the country,” he said.

Dr Sai blames revisionist history education for misconstruing local understanding of Hawaii’s true status.

“A revisionist history has been taught here in Hawaii since the early 1900s that presented Hawaii as if it was a part of the United States when in fact there is clear evidence that it’s not,” he said.

“We need to address this because it will affect our people but it also affects everyone.”

Dr Sai says if the Kingdom of Hawaii does indeed still exist, many historical treaties with nations including the UK and Australia would still be in effect.

International law

The US may be in violation of international law if Hawaii is still technically its own country.

The US would be guilty of appropriating funds by taxation and other related crimes, by not complying with occupation laws.

Dr Sai says within the framework of international law, there is presumed of continuity of a country when it is established.

“All that needs to be provided is evidence that Hawaii was a country (and it was, fully recognised by the United States and Great Britain and everyone else),” he said.

“It places the burden upon the United States to provide overwhelming evidence that it in fact extinguished Hawaii as an independent state under international law.

“In the absence of that evidence, the Hawaiian kingdom continues to exist.”

Hawaii Ocean Debris Could Fill 18-Wheeler

 

Some of the 4781 bottle caps collected from Midway Atoll shorelines by a 9-member team from the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division during a cleanup mission in April 2013.Credit: NOAA photo by Kristen Kell

Some of the 4781 bottle caps collected from Midway Atoll shorelines by a 9-member team from the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division during a cleanup mission in April 2013.
Credit: NOAA photo by Kristen Kell

Elizabeth Howell, LiveScience Contributor   |   July 30, 2013

In an area of Hawaii, far removed from most human habitation, a recent cleanup effort yielded an 18-wheeler’s worth of human debris during a 19-day anti-pollution campaign this year.

The region, which includes Midway Atoll, some 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) from the Hawaiian mainland, acts as a “fine-tooth comb” in picking up debris from elsewhere, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told LiveScience. Broken fishing gear, tattered nets and plastic fragments litter the water and land on the beaches.

As challenging as it is to clean up that much debris, it’s even more of an undertaking to remove it. Heavy machinery could damage the environment, so about 90 percent of the underwater cleanup is done by divers, said Kyle Koyanagi, NOAA’s marine debris operations manager.

“They physically go down and remove the net little by little with pocket knives, slowly cutting away at the debris that is entangled,” Koyanagi said. “They remove it from that environment, pull it in with their arms, hands and back, and transport it in small vessels on to larger support vessels.”

NOAA does this campaign every year, but the annual budget is in “soft money,” Koyanagi said, which means it’s vulnerable to budgetary effects such as sequestration.

Cleanup changes every year

The Coral Reef Ecosystem Division Marine Debris Project, run by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, has collected 848 tons (769 metric tons) of debris —about the weight of 530 sedan-size cars —in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands since the program began in 1996.

Efforts began after pollution was identified as a major threat to monk seals, an endangered species native to Hawaii. Decades of built-up pollution required NOAA to spend anywhere from 60 to 120 days at sea between 2000 and 2005, when intensive anti-pollution measures began in earnest. [Video: Humans Hit the Oceans Hard]

With the buildup now addressed, the agency has now been in “maintenance mode” since 2006, picking up whatever gets washed into the area annually. A typical field season lasts 30 to 60 days.

“We put together an annual effort every year depending on our budget that gets allocated,” said Mark Manuel, NOAA’s marine ecosystems research specialist. “It will be some kind of survey effort, whether a shore-based, three-week mission or an extensive, two-month cleanup [at sea].”

 

James Morioka, Kerrie Krosky, Kristen Kelly, Tomoko Acoba, Kevin O’Brien, Kerry Reardon, Edmund Coccagna, Joao Garriques, and Russell Reardon (clockwise from upper right) pose on April 18 atop the large, 13,795-kilogram (about 30,400 lbs) pile of fishing gear and plastic debris collected during their 2013 cleanup effort around Midway Atoll.Credit: NOAA photo by Edmund Coccagna

James Morioka, Kerrie Krosky, Kristen Kelly, Tomoko Acoba, Kevin O’Brien, Kerry Reardon, Edmund Coccagna, Joao Garriques, and Russell Reardon (clockwise from upper right) pose on April 18 atop the large, 13,795-kilogram (about 30,400 lbs) pile of fishing gear and plastic debris collected during their 2013 cleanup effort around Midway Atoll.
Credit: NOAA photo by Edmund Coccagna

Turning nets to energy

The amount of debris collected varies wildly from year to year. Surveyed areas in Hawaii include the French Frigate Shoals, Kure Atoll, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Maro Reef, Midway Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

This year’s efforts stayed on the shore due to budgetary concerns, Koyanagi added, which likely reduced the amount of debris collected, even though it could have filled a big rig.

“As you can imagine, the ship time is very expensive,” Koyanagi said. “Because of budget cuts this year, we could not afford to do a full-blown effort and get to the remote atolls.”

Once the debris is picked up, NOAA works to recycle as much of it as possible. Nets, for example, are sent to Schnitzer Steel Hawaii Corp. on the mainland, where they are chopped up for the City and County of Honolulu’s H-Power plant to convert into electricity.

The facility, run by Covanta Energy, burns the nets and generates steam, which is used to drive a turbine and create electricity.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace. Follow us @livescienceFacebookGoogle+. Original article on LiveScience.com.