Let’s see now. If Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba is missing something here, please chime in.
Last time I looked, there was an economic downturn going on, in Hawai‘i as in just about everyplace else in the world. People, businesses, and governments are going broke, left, right, and moderate. Even Warren Buffett doesn’t see a recovery any time soon … and, in case you’ve forgotten, Buffett and Bill Gates share a foundation, the assets of which still are sufficient to (pick one):
- A. End global hunger
B. Pick up the option year on Kobe Bryant‘s contract
In Hawai‘i, about one person in ten is out of work; on O‘ahu, by far the most heavily populated island, the figure is something like one person in nineteen – better, but still not good, and you can imagine just how bad things must be in the rest of the state.
A perfect storm of declining tax receipts, administrative turnover, and political pigheadedness has left the Government of Hawai‘i with massive fiscal deficits (by itself, the University of Hawai‘i is reported to be $98 million in the hole), and with a war between the State and its own employees. Mostly over how many of those employees are going to remain employees.
Which, in a state where Roger Miller’s four-bit room rents for $1000 a month and up, is a nontrivial argument. There are already plenty of people on O‘ahu who have no bedroom ceiling but the stars. And any calculation that doesn’t involve the copious ingestion of illicit substances projects that there will soon be more such people.
What compassionate and/or pragmatic steps is the Honolulu City Council considering to deal with this situation? Well, here’s the news.
So. If you’ve been living from paycheck to paycheck in the Aloha State, as most of us do wherever we may be living, and you get laid off, you’re going to find it difficult to bathe and wash clothes. Because you can’t afford a place with a shower and washing machines. But you aren’t allowed to stink.
You’re going to have a devil of a time getting any sleep. You won’t find anyplace on private property – hell, even the churches lock their doors, because, well, these people make a mess, and besides, they steal stuff. The public parks are closed off. So are the beaches. And, if the current bill passes, so will the streets.
I guess you’re just supposed to keep moving, walking around from place to place until you finally pass out on the sidewalk … but you won’t be allowed to pass out on the sidewalk!
Wait … I have it! We’ll teach all the homeless people Indian meditation, have them all master yogic flying. Then they’ll all just float above Honolulu – out of the parks, off the beaches, off the streets. Problem solved! Now if we could just find enough Indian gurus …
Naturally, the bill has an economic justification attached to it. I can do no better than to quote its sponsor, City Council member Charles Djou, verbatim:
I think [homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks] is a particularly acute problem in Waikiki … If there’s one part of this state that’s open 24 hours it’s Waikiki. But … Waikiki is the heart of our tourism industry and tourism is the heart of our economy. If we don’t take care of this and we don’t take care of Waikiki, we’re not going to be taking care of our economy and this is going to hurt all of us.
Thus we blame the tourism crisis in Hawai‘i on homeless people. Overcrowding, outrageous prices, shoddy service, and a growing reputation for phoniness, have nothing to do with it. Neither does the absence of any sort of sensible forward planning. Planning that would set funds aside during good tourism seasons to provide for the inevitable bad seasons. Planning that would allow the development of a diversified income base for the state, instead of its contraction to tourism and the military as at present – on the islands that used to produce significant percentages of the world’s sugar cane and pineapple crops, practically no agriculture remains, even for domestic use.
Ah, Hawai‘i, the tropical paradise. Come at your own risk. Unless you’ve already mastered the art of levitation.
LAND, n. A part of the earth’s surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property, subject to […] ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.