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March 3, 2006

Hawaii Sovereignity: An Essay

This post is rather lengthy and targets a small group of people who, by virtue of subject matter, would have me strung up and horsewhipped after having read it. What started out as a casual Hawaii Sovereignty bashing post surprisingly blossomed into a full-fledged research project.

This post might appeal to people who think Hawaii is a happy place full of surfers, mai tai’s, luaus and hibiscus. This ‘paradise’ also has its dark side. I have to precede this essay with a statement concerning the people who live and work in the 50th state- I don’t have anything against them. Some people think that I am biased against Hawaiians after reading my posts on this blog and nothing could be further from the truth. I have a great respect for the people here and there are many things I admire about them. But, just as in any culture, or state, or region of the world, there are people that piss me off and they can be any color, creed, or nationality. With that said, here is my essay.
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I saw another television ad for the promotion of the sovereignty movement here in Hawaii and brought the topic up in my office. Immediately, 2 guys in my office piped up about the Akaka Bill debate they attended at the Japanese Cultural Center last August as part of an extra credit assignment for a World History class they were attending at Wayland Baptist University.

*Background. The Akaka Bill, in a nutshell, would give the Hawaiians with ancestry their own Nation within a Nation, much like the American Indians have. Some Hawaiians don't want it to pass because it would forever prohibit them from pursuing their fight for a completely sovereign nation of Hawaii to be recognized. Some Hawaiians don’t care about the bill and want to be left alone and disassociated from the whole sovereignty movement all together

The only way to keep the government money flowing and to preserve racial exclusion for beneficiaries is to pass the Akaka bill.

One noted distinction during the debate was the difference in emotional outrage between the two sides. Opponents to the Akaka Bill were allowed to speak and give their points but when supporters of the bill were speaking continual outbursts from the opponents caused the speakers to have to wait until things got quiet. The Hawaiians are all about respect, but only when they have the floor.

I have kept up with the subject for many years mainly because there were people in my college classes who supported a free Hawaii. After listening to them and reading about the sovereignty plight I just couldn't generate any sympathy for this cause.

I went to the website, one of many sites devoted to this cause, to see if I cold get more sovereignty insight than what the local paper or other propaganda sources dole out. Among the many spelling and grammatical errors on the site (a bleating testament to the Hawaii education system) are some snippets from this site that stood out:

In 1993 the 103rd Congress unanimously signed into Public Law the Apology Bill.

America publicly admitted to illegally overthrowing its ally and trading partner the Sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii and falsely imprisoning the beloved Queen Liliuokalani.

Since then, America, has done everything it can to avoid the consequences of this Bill. The inevitable result will be the restoration of a sovereign Hawaii.

The Apology Bill the site refers to happened later that year after Clinton's inauguration. I have a problem with that apology in that he made it on "behalf of the American people". Well, Bill, I had absolutely nothing to do with the illegal take over the apology talks about. I do admit there were some shady actions behind the whole thing but I don't think I should have to be included in an apology for something I was not involved in. And that goes double for the half-ass slavery apology Clinton gave to the blacks to smokescreen his knobber debacle in the oval office. Native Hawaiians treat this apology as an admission of a crime instead of a sympathetic “Hey, sorry your ancestors had to go through that shit” statement.

I do believe the Hawaiians should get some kind of reparation from the U.S. government; I think that would be the fair thing to do. My wife brought up a good point last night when we watched a news clip on the island of Koho’olawe, an island the U.S. military used to brush up on their bombing skills. The island is uninhabitable because of the unspent ordinance. The government should, at the very least, go in there and clean it up and give it to the Hawaiians, not the state. This would be a good start. I must be getting soft in my old age.

Give them land, but not their sovereignty. That is ludicrous.

This website has a comprehensive collection of the pitfalls of the sovereignty movement.

I read a story in the Honolulu Advertiser about how the tourism industry is making millions of dollars off the backs of the Hawaiians and later found this article written by Hawaiian native, Rev. Kaleo Patterson, on the subject of tourism, specifically the pitfalls.

Rev. Patterson talks about how tourism is killing the Native Hawaiians and the their lands. In his opinion, tourism was not instituted by the natives but by greedy proprietors. The only reason Hawaiians dance the hula or work at the hotels (as do his siblings) is because that is the only way they can survive. I have been to many luaus and I don’t get that perspective. The dancers are happy to share their culture and heritage with the audience. But then again, looks can be deceiving.

I find it hard to believe that the only thing native Hawaiians can do is participate in the tourist industry. That is a smack in the face to fellow natives. The reverend continues to say that native Hawaiians are continually at the top of the list of the poor, unhealthy, and struggling peoples in the state.

Reverend Patterson states,
It is no accident that Hawaiians are the poorest of all people in Hawaii, capturing the highest percentage of unemployment and welfare recipients. It is also not an accident that as a population group Native Hawaiians dominate the prison populations.

I agree that it is no accident.

But is tourism really the agent of their despair? Is tourism the only that prohibits them from getting a good job outside the industry?

Tourism, according to the reverend, is also responsible for their economic despair:
“Most Hawaiians will bear witness that tourism, as a foreigner dominated enterprise, is the plague which an already oppressed people must endure with very few other economic options or alternatives in life. Many end up choosing the lesser options even if it means unemployment or criminal activity.”

So what about the poor white people who live in Kauai; is tourism the reason for their misfortune or are Hawaiians the only ones susceptable?

There are always other options and getting an education is one of them. I tried to lift the vale of perception and find some information that could conclude the native Hawaiians had the educational capacity to do something else besides the hula or sell shave ice on North Shore.

Education: Native Hawaiians
The 2000 Census states 84.6% of people age 25+ living in Hawaii had a high school diploma and 26.2% had a Bachelors or higher. In 2002, the census states that 87% had high school diplomas (ranked 14 among states). Total
Native Hawaiians in 2000 was 5% and their education level was pretty good compared to other pacific islanders:

No high school diploma- 16.8%
High School Diploma or equivalent- 36.5%
Some College or Associate’s- 31.4%
Bachelors or higher- 15.2%

* Census error

While these statistics fared Native Hawaiian's better than other Islanders, compared to the national average the native Hawaiians are well below par for their educational levels. The capability of the Hawaii school system in educating its youth makes me wonder if the high school diploma is really worth anything.

The American Legislative Exchange Council ranked Hawaii 44 out of 50 states and District of Columbia in academic achievement.

The Heritage Foundation has this to say about Hawaii schools:
“Hawaii offers little public school choice. The state has a weak charter school law. Hawaii has a higher proportion of students in private schools than most states.”

These depressing numbers might shed some light on why Native Hawaiians fare so poorly in job placement- they aren’t qualified to get them.

Work Force: Native Hawaiians
Almost ¾ of male natives and 3/5 of women natives were working at the time of the 2000 census in the management, professional, and related industries. It is logical to assume that native Hawaiian residents of the outer islands are below the income levels compared to the rest of the state because Oahu is where the bulk of the commerce and industry is. The outer islands are tourism driven because there really isn’t anything there that is commerce driven except tourism. There are only a few choices for those outer island people to improve their income levels: move to where the jobs are, bring non-tourism driven commerce to the island or win the lottery. In fact, this could be applied to anyone regardless of where they live.

The most blinding factor of low incomes and focused job opportunities (tourism related only) for native Hawaiians bellows across the pages of educational studies of the state. If you don’t have the education level required for a job then you aren’t going to get hired. This truth is not restricted to Hawaii natives but for all Americans. The qualified people get the jobs.

Earnings: Native Hawaiians
A depressing statistic was the median earnings of male workers age 16+ of a meager $32, 672. It doesn’t take a financial planner to realize $32k doesn’t go very far because of Hawaii’s high cost of living when people pay $5.00 for a gallon of milk and $2.85 (average) for a gallon of gas. In fact, Hawaii is ranked 3rd in the 20 most unaffordable housing markets. The real kick to the crotch is that the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. were included in this report.

But is this tourism’s fault? No, it is the state’s fault, to a degree, that the cost of living is so high. Wasteful spending, poor legislative choices, and an unwillingness to look to the mainland for new ways to do things are contributing to the problems of this state.

This has gotten way off topic but I think these statistics and views of the sovereignty movement are important. I stated earlier that I just can’t seem to drum up any sympathy for the sovereignty movement and that is because I think the whole thing is a sham. After 2 weeks of research on this blog post I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if you are a minority or how long ago your ancestors were “wronged” in some way, if you don’t have an education, if you are too lazy to get off your ass and make things better for yourself or if you rely on some scheme to change your quality of life, you will always live in some part of a shadow that drains your life either economically, physically, emotionally, spiritually or, to the worst possible extent, all of the above.

When all the layers are stripped off, the fight for Hawaiian sovereignty is nothing more than a corrosive race-based movement. It is an ideology that corrupts Hawaii’s youth and separates native Hawaiians as a people.

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