Friday, January 27, 2012


JUST A MOTION AWAY: Our high school Economics class had us bored to tears. For a red diaper baby in the midst of the late 60's "revolution" it held little relevance. But we do remember one thing- the way Mr. Voorhies would ask questions of our equally narcoleptic classmates and, when no one raised their hands, he would rub his thumb across his other four fingers, indicating the inevitable answer to every question in economics... money.

Perhaps it has stuck with us because every time we see the Hawai`i State Legislature, or any legislative body in the country for that matter, propose some inane and out-of-touch piece of legislation- many times either in opposition to pervasive public opinion or presenting a version of the ideal that is so watered-down you can actually hear it gurgling as it goes down for the third time- we leap to the conclusion that the answer as to "why" can be summed up with Mr. Voorhies' gesture.

So when we heard that rather than ban those one-time-use, white, plastic grocery bags like Kaua`i and Maui have done, the bill streaking through the legislature aims to simply put a 10 cent fee on them- to go to 25 cents if it doesn't decrease the use significantly.

At first blush we assume it was, as usual, the "money in the system" from both the supermarkets and plastic bag makers that was the proverbial fly in the ointment.

But the reality is that the reason why the corporate media is framing any controversy over the bill as whether in fact to institute a fee and if so how much it should be, is that our own people have sold us down the river once again.

Rather than look at how incredibly beautiful the roadsides, beaches and, everything else looks on Kaua`i and Maui now that everything isn't draped in white plastic and advocate for a total ban statewide, according to Civil Beat:

Sierra Club director Robert Harris told the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Thursday that a fee — which would be charged to consumers at the checkout counter — has worked to reduce plastic bag use in other areas.

Harris was among those testifying on House Bill 2260. Environmental groups, including The Nature Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation, as well as government department heads and even major supermarkets, testified in support of the bill.

The important part that tells you something is wrong is that last part- it wasn't just the environmental group but "even major supermarkets, testified in support of the bill."

Now we get the "strange bedfellows" aspect of politics. Many times we have to question our own sanity when we find ourselves agreeing on some issue with various and sundry fascists, war mongers and general all-around creeps and cretins.

But that isn't the case here.

Way too often, especially in "the Aloha State," those who put themselves out as allies in the fight to stop despoilment in the name of progress in the islands abandon the fight to enact effective legislation in favor of compromising our environment before the fight even begins.

The thought process, as we've been told in similar circumstances in the past, is that the good fight isn't worth fighting this time. We've been admonished by the leadership of the above listed groups that certain battles aren't worth fighting and scoring political points for the organization on "this one" is more important than staking out the "perfect" so that the final "good" will be just a little better when all is said and done.

The way politics is supposed to work is that you stake out your perfect position and either win over the other side or find a happy medium. But lately- whether it's the Hawai`i environmental groups or the national Democratic Party, the position taken going into negotiations is already compromised to the extent that the final measure is inevitably horrific.

It isn't the money itself in many of these situations. Rather it's the acknowledging- and therefore condoning- of the fear from legislators over the use of that money to challenge them at election time that creates the defeatist attitude of progressive organizations these days.

Yes- getting all money out of politics is the ultimate solution to our broken political system. But if we give up before we begin, we're giving that money exponentially more power than it already has.

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