The Empty Promises of “Making Hawaii Better”

As this election year is starting to culminate about, once again, the airwaves are being filled with promises of “Making Hawaii better.”  The phrase sounds really nice and stirs up emotions in people to aspire to do such a such a thing when running for office.  However, once in office, and seeing the kind of legislation being put on table, I start to think that these words are really meaningless.

The working class citizens are struggling and I feel like the leaders don’t see this at all.  Many like myself, are employed full time and making decent salaries but they sure aren’t going up any time soon.  Nor has it gone up more than a percent since moving back home in 2006.  What is going up is everything around here.

From basic goods like food, housing, and utilities as well as taxes and fees, everything is rising except our incomes.  I’m left with less money at the end of the month as a result.  I could choose to work a second job to supplement my income, but there is no time when you have a young family, care for a disabled grandmother, and already holding a 40 hour a week job.  I can only handle so much and want some semblance of a decent quality of life.

I am not the only one who feels the squeeze of what’s happening.  The elderly folks here are also feeling the same burden as working folks.  They are on limited incomes and when the cost of goods and services rise, they have to figure out how to make ends meet.  These folks are very much worried about how their incomes will sustain them as people are living longer too.

When I start to hear the campaign promises of “I’m working for you,” I really want that person to genuinely mean it and show it in their actions.  If you are making a promise, then you should actually keep that promise to fulfill your intent, if you really meant it.  I teach my children to stay true to their word as it reflects our integrity about what we say and do.  It is a duty to do so.

Politicians are great at having photo shots of themselves with the “people.”  Then they turn around and make laws that actually turn out to be bad for the people.  What’s the deal here?  Are you listening to us or only listening to the loudest of the activists with their demands and shortsighted thinking?  That kind of decisions will only lead to many unintended consequences, which we have seen over and over again with poorly thought out legislation.

The kinds of legislation being introduced this year are an interesting mishmash of interests to say the least.  I read some of these bills and I have to scratch my head as to how does this help the working class folks and those on limited incomes.

SB2944: Legalizing Anti-Everything Events

“The legislature finds that there exists educational retreat communities within Hawaii that provide instruction programs relating to nature, culture, wellness, and sustainable living in the spirit of ‘ohana and aloha; and that such retreats helps the community by providing agricultural food production, education, employment, energy, recreation, services, supplies, and safety.” 

My take on it is that it sounds like a legalization of anti-everything rallies.  When the word sustainable comes from something that Puna senator introduces, it only means one thing…  Anti-GMO.

SB1987: Legalization of Raw Milk Shares

“Permits the acquisition of raw milk and raw milk products by owners of cows, goats, and sheep and cow shares, goat shares, and sheep shares if certain conditions are met. Requires farms and dairies that produce raw milk or raw milk products to register with the department of health. Permits farms and dairies to set up a location near an improved road to distribute their products to owners of cow, sheep, or goat shares. Prohibits the sale and redistribution of raw milk and raw milk products.”

The evidence has shown that people have died or been severely disabled by the consumption of raw milk and its products.  We have a representative, who is aligned with groups that claim that GM foods are dangerous, but then wants to support raw milk.  GM food has not killed anyone but we are trying to legalize something that has killed and maimed? Some thing does not make sense here!

SB2521: Label GM foods and jail the food growers

“Requires labeling of foods, including raw agricultural commodities, processed food, and seed or seed stock, that have been genetically engineered or deems them misbranded. Provides a penalty for violations and authorizes private civil enforcement of the Act.”

Once again, our brilliant legislators have decided to take on the curious consumers’ “right to know” claims to label food and punish anyone who doesn’t do so with jail, fines, or a lawsuit.  That is a promising step forward to securing Hawaii’s affordable food supply indeed.

SB2571: Label Cell Phones and it’s untested dangers

“Requires all cellular telephones, including refurbished and remanufactured cellular telephones, sold or leased by a retailer in the State to bear a label that encourages consumers to follow the enclosed product safety guidelines to reduce exposure to radiation that may be hazardous to their health.”

Cell phones have been on the market for how many years without a single human test shown before it was released.  More safety testing has been done on GM foods then on a cell phone.  Now remind me why we need to label this?  We’d better ask the state to also put huge signs all over warning us of the dangers of the sun and it’s radiation on every single home.  That’s a proven danger that needs a label.

SB2366: Raise the Minimum Wage Raise Cost of Living for All

“Increases the amount of guaranteed monthly compensation required to exempt an individual from minimum wage, overtime, and record keeping requirements under the Hawaii wage and hour law. Establishes a formula for calculation of the guaranteed monthly compensation that pays guaranteed monthly compensation to the applicable minimum wage rate.”

This law sounds appealing in that it may raise the incomes of those making minimum wage, but you have to ask where is this going to come from? Someone is going to have to fund this raise.  It’s going to come from the a rise in consumer prices as employers will have to reshift the burden of this.  The raise in prices will also translate into higher costs to provide benefits to the employee also.  If money grew on trees, this would be a great law but there is always a burden upon someone when only half of the issue is addressed in this case.

The rise in minimum wage is to address the cost of living for people making it.  Instead of tinkering with wages, why not look at ways to make the overall cost of living in Hawaii better for all?  Raising the minimum wage is one of those shortsighted laws that will have more unintended consequences that will materialize after the fact.

The Helpfulness Factor of Proposed Legislation: ZERO

As I keep hearing more and more about these proposed laws, I have to stop and ask, “How does this make my life any better?”  For the life of me, I can’t figure it out?  Is any of these laws going to make living here more affordable?  Is it going to truly improve my quality of life? Will it help those in need?  Will it end our month to month struggles to make ends meet?

Somehow it doesn’t even touch upon the key issues that the people Hawaii really could use about now.  Does the public deserve some consideration on laws that will actually help them and make an impact on our daily lives?  Yes, we all are expecting that right now.

Our leaders need to sit down and ask themselves, “Have I really done something to better the lives of all in my communities?”  Ask yourself if you’re work has actually solved a problem or added to the problem?  Have you take a consideration as to how your legislation will affect the entire system?  If you haven’t, now is a time to delve deeper as to how everything is connected and interdependent.

Please think about that and actually do what was promised during your campaigns.  So many want to look at the “bigger picture,” but can’t even fathom where or how to even start to consider it.  Everything affects everything is the bottom line.  That’s the big picture…  Look at the system you are trying to change.

By seeing how the world is interconnected, you can have a better view of the consequences of your proposed legislation.  We need that now.  Please step back at the laws you are trying to make now and truly figure out what it will take to make the peoples’ lives better overall.  That’s your duty to each and everyone of us!

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