Monday, October 17, 2011


BUT IF YOU TRY SOMETIMES, YOU JUST MIGHT FIND: Don't get us wrong. Anytime a hundred and fifty people show up with signs and chants- especially with an "eat the rich" attitude- it warms our red-diaper baby cockles.

It's just the thought that something not just incongruous but at least contradictory, if not downright hypocritical, was happening, kept us feeling somewhat uneasy from our umbrella shrouded beach chair perch at the back of the crowd.

The first thing that any but the oblivious would have noticed is that the only local face in the crowd was that of Kaua`i Councilmember Kipukai Kuali`i, a former "community organizer" who we'd expect to see at the head of the line with his little "as long as it takes" sign.

Of course the biggest "joke" was seeing a bunch of haoles carrying big sticks saying they were going to "occupy" a part of Hawai`i nei. But that wasn't it either.
The predominance of white faces actually brought us to ponder if, indeed, the majority were actually members of the "99%" as their chant claimed.

No it wasn't just that any of us who actually are a member of the 99%- those shut out of the 40% of the wealth in America which the remaining 1% controls- would actually be part of the 1% in any third-world country. It was simply that those that are privileged enough to actually live on Kaua`i are more likely to be approaching the wealth of the 1%ers than they are to be near the bottom of the 99%ers.

At one point we sat down next to a friend we've known for almost 40 years and mentioned this and the fact that it was likely that many in the crowd lived in million-dollar estates, own stock certificates and hedge funds or otherwise similarly invested funds, not just participated in but purveyed the economic system that they were protesting.

He took it personally and immediately objected saying "I don't live in a million dollar estate." But then we both suddenly realized that, although he had bought land and built his home with his own hands many years ago at a tenth of its current value, he probably did now live in a rich man's home worth at least a cool million if not twice that.

And that's the point. The scene of those of us rich enough to live on Kaua`i protesting the accumulation of wealth was unnerving enough. But the fact is that most of the self-same people hoisting signs and chanting have probably never shown up to a planning commission or council meeting to protest the latest development that is keeping those at the bottom in non-living-wage jobs and encouraging the 1%ers from colder climes to scarf up Ag condos and subdivisions.

And as long as the 99% stay away from direct political action in droves, it's less likely that there will be any sustainable future for the island. Actually we'd love to have asked for a show of hands as to how many of the crowd voted in the last election.

A demonstration may be what democracy looks like. But voting and showing up to a meeting is what democracy actually is.

We left with the distinct impression that although we all felt better in having gone down to the demonstration to get our fair share of abuse, unless we "occupy" some meeting rooms in Lihu`e and the voting booths across the island, we'll all be back out in front of Safeway next year and the one after futilely protesting against ourselves.

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