History is unlikely to be kind to our immediate past and present Hawaii governors— unless the living ones write it themselves.

Otherwise, it will be a chronology of chasing after the scent of money. An analogy would be giving an unbridled horse its head, a quick stab of the spurs, and hoping you can stay in the saddle long enough to win the race to the pot of gold..

There was never any vision and meticulous planning for the worst.

Hawaii’s great beauty wasn’t tarnished by climate change. That was done by invasive humans who blew in here by ship and airplane just as other invasive species brushed aside the compliant native vegetation. The incoming humans squeezed out the perplexed native population.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel beachfront in 1927. Photo from Hawaii.gov

Then cattlemen would deforest the northwestern Big Island to have pasture for their imported beef-on-legs. Imported goats and sheep would destroy the ground cover and low-lying bushes. Eventual, traffic would become unbearable because of imported cars and the many of the 10 million imported tourists each year who rented them. Most landscapes would be confiscated for housing as our resident population began approaching 1.5 million.

Sheep roundup on Mauna Kea. Photo by Hawaii DLNR

Our leaders would chase after more land for more houses and more construction jobs, and for the additional training areas the military would need for all those soldiers and Marines. The land for Schofield Barracks was handed to the Army by the new Hawaiian government of 1899.

Schofield Barracks, part of the land ceded to the U.S. Government by the annexation government of Hawaii.

There was plenty of present vision but no future vision. It was all about today’s money. Sugar, pineapple, beach hotels, an Army division, a Marine regiment, a Navy homeport, an Air Force wing. But no TMT (yet), and a final “no” to the proposal for a rocket launch center and a rocketry training academy at South Point. Just plenty of jobs as hotel maids, bartenders, waiters and in construction that seemed to wag the city and county councils when it came to height and location regulation.

Some people loudly objected. The leaders said “if we listened to you there would be no jobs, you ignorant asses. We have a plan.”

There was no plan — not for a recession, not for a far off war that would empty rentals, bars and restaurants of military customers. No plan for a sudden pandemic. All that would at least temporarily kill off our skimpy economy, and there was no plan for that. We couldn’t  set money aside because we never even had enough on hand to fund our government worker pensions and health plans.

The planning failure and the ruination started with Bill Quinn, our first statehood governor, and continues under the current Gov. David Ige.

We learning nothing from the 2008 recession.

We just plod on, keeping the vision day by day, deconstructing an absolutely gorgeous set of Pacific islands.

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

4 replies on “The Ruination”

  1. Covid-19 has lifted the veil off Hawaii’s phony one-horse economy. Take away the 1,400,000 annual tourist arrivals and there is no buffer underneath to protect against economic collapse..

  2. Bravo, Bob, you knocked it out of the ball park! Excellent insights once more! What to do about it?

  3. Wonderful piece, Bob. So concise and accurate. Summed it all up with fine art to match the words.

  4. Awesome review of what has happen to Hawaii in the interest of “progress.”
    All you have to do is look at America’s largest cities to calculate when we will get to to that mountain of “success” in filth, pollution, crime, corruption, and unethical decency.
    TMT is America’s call for corrupt status quo democracy at all cost. In 5 years the project will be outdated and more of them will need to to be built to “compete”. It will never be enough.
    What ever weapons you place on the Hawaiian Islands will become the target of the Hawaiian Islands. Any weapons place on or adjacent active volcanoes or vault lines are susceptible to either block/damage/contaminate water supplies, catastrophic landslides that cannot be fixed without $Billions of dollars of infastructure which we don’t have and will never have.
    Place those weapons on ships and planes. Leave mother earth alone.

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