When Emotions Cost Us Money
Wednesday - November 12, 2008
We, the people, tend to operate 90 percent on emotion and 10 percent on facts and logic. Elections are an example of that. Or, take the cases of the Falls of Clyde and the Kahana Valley evictions.
The Falls is a square-rigger, now minus its sails, that in its day carried sugar, molasses and oil from and to Hawaii, and then became a floating petroleum dock in Alaska. People got sentimental about it when it first was about to be sunk and raised money to keep it afloat for dockside visitors here.
I’ve no problem with that when no public money is involved. But then Sen. Dan Inouye got a $300,000 earmark for its upkeep. Bishop Museum was caring (or not caring) for it and grew tired of tossing good private money after bad and decided to sink it. Now a Friends group has stepped in to maybe preserve it.
Why? Sentimentality, I guess. It will never sail. It’s not even an original because it was reconfigured after its launching in 1878. I guess so long as it stays all private money, be my guest. I’m not up to paying taxes for sentimentality right now.
Now, Kahana Valley. The good part of the story is that the state acquired that magnificent 5,000-acre ahupua’a as a park. Bad part? State made a mess of the park concept. It allowed live-in leases in return for some undefined “cultural education” duties by the leasees.
The original tenants’ kids and relatives want to live there, too. There have been drug and domestic problems. The park’s a work in progress since we bought it 38 years ago for $5 million. It’s in danger of becoming a subdivision of folks who don’t always take kindly to visitors.
If leases are expired, the tenants must leave. It’s what Kamehameha Schools and Campbell Estate sometimes do, also. Why not the state? Well, sentimentality. Oh, those poor people! Give them transition assistance, yes. But they have to go. Kahana is a park. Make it one.
This year our state libraries took $28.3 million out of the Department of Education budget. How much do we really need all those library branches and services? Is the library worth that much money in this age of the printed word receding in importance?
Libraries as repositories of information - yes - but for renting movies or so I can read every new John LeCarre, Daniel Silva, John Sandford, Vince Flynn and James Patterson novel?
Most people other than scholars already do their major research online. Maybe we need to rethink the role our state library system and how much we want to spend on it. The chain bookstores allow you to browse a book while you have a Starbucks coffee and a snack. My Kaimuki branch is closed Fridays and Saturdays, and three days at holidays.
Before we do a chorus of auwe over the budget cuts we need a comprehensive look at how much State Library we need going forward 20 years. Can we close branches and reduce staff but increase public Internet access? Can we stop stocking mass-market fiction? Can we offer drinks and food through concessionaires?
Can we get along with libraries as conservators rather than as book lenders except for school-children?
And now that it’s over, Gov. Lingle, why didn’t you stay here and stump for GOP candidates for the Legislature instead of stumping on the Mainland for McCain-Palin?
My imagined Lingle reply: “Our local candidates are all losers. I need big money to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. The national GOP can give me that, and now it owes me big time.”
Did you watch CNN election coverage last week? If so, did you, like me, notice how boringly ordinary coverage was on the non-cable networks, and especially our local TV stations, by comparison? Ours seemed stuck in the 80s!
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