Being Bombarded With Bad News

Larry Price
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Wednesday - April 16, 2008
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There’s an old saying: “No news is good news.” And while that might be true, you also could say that emotional news is bad news. The media have been bombarding us with bad news lately.

There aren’t many things more depressing than a job fair for outof-work employees. The fair was organized following the shutdown of Aloha and ATA Airlines last week, and nearly 200 employers from the public and private sectors participated. Those attending were given tips on writing resumes and received information on unemployment benefits and health coverage. It was one of the saddest events ever held at Blaisdell Center.

Add the closure of the Weyerhaeuser box plant in Honolulu and the Molokai Ranch Properties, and you have a good idea of what’s happening in Hawaii.

There’s a dignity in having a job and being able to care for one’s family. Losing a job is like experiencing the death of a loved one. Imagine the trauma on individuals who had two days’ notice that their jobs were gone. No warning, no time to prepare or revise your budget, no one to talk to except others who are in the same situation. Add it all together and Hawaii is in the grip of a stressful situation.

The government is trying to help by offering some financial assistance to the tourism industry and conducting meetings with distressed workers. Probably the greatest indicator that someone understands the enormity of the problem comes in the form of counseling service provided by the Department of Mental Health. In addition to tips on finding new jobs, filing for unemployment and finding medical coverage, it also is going to provide mental health counseling for those who need it. Specifically, how to emotionally handle stress produced by a major change in your life.

You have to admit that it is a little scary when our government leaders start providing mental health counseling to workers in the private sector.

Financial pressure is building up on Oahu’s families. Before the the woes of Hawaii’s airline industry, many people had forgotten how stressful living in Hawaii - and especially on Oahu - has become. Add the huge backlog of maintenance and needed renovations in our public schools system, the University of Hawaii and government facilities, and it is overwhelming. All of the county mayors are engaged in expensive efforts to repair and rebuild our sewer systems, roads and basic infrastructure, the cost of which pales in comparison to the push for a $4 billion rail system.

The burden caused by enduring constant traffic gridlock everywhere during rush hour, higher taxes, fewer services offered because of dwindling governmental funds and arguments over transportation is heavy for the average taxpayer. With escalating property taxes, service fees, runaway gasoline prices and excise taxes, expenses for the average Island family have skyrocketed. The high cost of transportation because of oil prices impacts all commodities, and economic slowdowns do nothing more than accelerate the hardships families are feeling.

Even the volcano on the Big Island has been acting up, casting out sulfur dioxide from its crater. A small change in wind direction caused closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the evacuation of more than 2,000 people. Elevated levels of sulfur dioxide continue to pour from the volcano’s Halemaumau Crater and the Pu’u O’o vent. Government officials are warning people with respiratory illness to stay indoors. Meanwhile, on Kauai, lifeguards are advising tourists and beachgoers to stay out of the waters off north shore beaches because of shark sightings. Popular Hanalei Bay was closed after tiger sharks 10 to 12 feet long were seen in the area with one coming within 20 yards of the beach.

This news is all compounded by doomsday scenarios in the national press. A former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank declared last week that the U.S. is indeed in a recession. Stocks on Wall Street are sliding after news that United Parcel

Service (UPS) was pulling back from its first-quarter profit forecast adding concerns about the health of corporate earnings. The much-anticipated launch of the Boeing 787 was delayed because the economy was not ready for it, gas prices hit a record high as did oil prices, and then American Airlines canceled more than 850 flights.

There’s no shortage of bad news these days.

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