Cost of living in Hawaii is a major concern. Let’s take a look at how housing investments affect this concern.
There is embedded within the psyche of our community a theory generally expressed by the term, “Free Country.” Around that concept we have seen wound the principle of contract, of capitalism, of economic principles of investments and return on investments. We have been led to a belief that these principles, if we just leave them alone and let them work themselves out, there will be an “invisible hand” which will swoop down on the society and make everything right.
Yet, we are constantly reminded of the misery which our population continually experiences, which has gone on for at least 40 years that I am aware of. This misery is the sickness of homelessness, where we see a growing population of individuals and now families, forced to live without proper shelter, and in that life-style they are tossed into, often being tagged with criminal violations and treated in the society with deep prejudices because of those houseless conditions. Those homeless cases are the extremes. There are many more individuals and families hiding in places away from public notice and police detection. And there are those in our population who are simply unable to afford the cost of owning their own home, or renting a home.
The ills of a homeless condition reach far beyond the matter of shelter for an individual or a family. From such a condition flows the impact on a deteriorating health, loss of employment, a personal sense of loss of self-worth, a break-up of the family unit, fear, alcoholism and drug abuse, shame. Homeless communities are forming and being chased out of public areas of hiding, to seek other hiding places. Some have even gone under freeways, under bridges, up into mountains, along crevices at the seashore, in abandoned vehicles, etc.
We have a tyranny of the market that has gone berserk. Hawaii’s housing sales have become a world-wide competition such that foreigners and aliens are free to transport their monies across our Hawai`i borders with little resistance. That world capital investment game can see a large flow of money entering our shores and purchasing as many housing units including condominiums, tying up the market and sitting on these units till the next buyer decides to invest and a trade-off occurs. The State government says nothing of it because they are happy to tax these transactions and the counties too profit by the increase in “property values” determined by the increase sale transactions, which only goes to fill up the counties’ coffers. Our banks and other financial institutions say nothing about it because they too are tied into this affair, profiting from the economic activities of lending and collecting for the increased construction and the increased services they produce.
Let us be mindful that it is not only foreigners (those living in the U.S.A. mainland) and aliens (those living outside of U.S.A. mainland, but not of Hawai`i) who are important aspects of our problem of housing shortage, but they also include residents of Hawai`i who also see Hawai`i housing as investment opportunities. Many of these investors see the increasing housing demand as favorable for their investments, giving little or no attention to the social ills which they contribute to by this investment!
The other part of this economic cycle lacking the proper social consciousness are sellers of such real property, whose general interest is found in a profit motive and will naturally sell to the highest buyer.
The government, generally expected to act as the watchdog over the social and economic wellness of the society, have not connected the economic activity adequately with the social impact such activity is having and is engaged in supporting these economic activities.
We need to call for a new public policy aimed at making homes available to our residents. One way of doing this is to limit to 1 resident an individual is entitled. There should no longer be any hording of real property for investment purposes. If a buyer is not going to use said property as his/her primary residence, there will be a penalty to pay for the purchase and for the continuing annual retention of such residence to assist in the housing shortage which exist in Hawaii.
Any person owning more than one residential unit in Hawaii will be prohibited from purchasing another unless and until that person has relinquished his current residence to a local buyer in Hawaii who will use said residence as his/her home.
There will be attempts by some individuals to disperse their real property residential ownerships to members of their family who may not actually use such other real property as their residence. There may be attempts to name children still living in the same family household as residence of another home which the investor wishes to retain.
Laws will have to be adjusted to meet those attempts to circumvent the policy, including investigations and penalties whenever a person claims to reside in a property and it is found not to be the case. Any transfer of title to real property to a person who does not truly reside on said property, or if the transfer is merely a sham covered over with a title transfer, but with a side agreement or understanding that the property will be returned or managed under the instruction of the transferring person, if found out, the “side agreement or understanding” should be considered an attempt to defraud the government and such a side agreement could be set aside or declared null and void and the transfer will be recognized as valid without any such side agreement.
There may be other attempts to circumvent the law and such attempts will have to be dealt with by the courts or the legislature after the initial policy and the guidelines and legal codes adopted to carry out the policy is made. There are other experiences in Pacific Island nations which follow somewhat similar prohibitions against certain types of investments, and although there have been attempts to circumvent the law, the legal systems have dealt with such situations.
Real estate in Hawaii is too important to be used with such a negative impact as the type of homelessness which we suffer today. We should not have to continue under the present condition which sees the incoming flight of capital to Hawai`i while at the same time, we witness the outgoing flight of our local population because they can’t even afford to have a home in Hawai`i.
Yes, the adoption and practice of this policy of limiting investing families only one residential unit will take time to become a practice. But if we are serious about controlling Hawaii’s future for Hawaii’s people, this is certainly one place where we need to begin that control.
Poka Laenui for the Hawaii National Transitional Authority Working Group
This is a re-post on another page, (Aha Aloha Aina). I am re-posting believing it important to be shared here as well.
A woman writes, “Why would you choose federal recognition when you can have a free Hawaiian Kingdom with reparations for the illegal occupation?”
1st, she presents the question as either one or the other, i.e. one automatically eliminates the other! Federal Recognition OR Independence. I challenge that limited view of the fight for Hawaiian Sovereignty. As a Hawaiian National, I will not limit my fight for Hawaiian Sovereignty by sticking my head in the sand and pretend that there is no other reality. As I stand in the U.S. Courts and challenge the jurisdiction of the courts over myself or my clients, I also prepare to use the laws of the United States, of Hawaii, of the applicable rules of court, of the U.S. & Hawaii Constitutions, the Ordinance of the various counties, etc. in defense of my clients. I will also use international laws and principles to assert such defense. The fact that I declare myself a Hawaiian national in no way foreclose my right and responsibility to my clients, to raise all appropriate defenses, wherever found.
Of course, those who do not want the Hawaiians to have sovereignty are glad to see this all or nothing approach. It means there will be no trouble with Hawaiian nationals who will not fight but just complain about lack of U.S. jurisdiction as they are marched (defiantly) off to jail!
There is also the other extreme side of Federal Recognition. Those are the folks who do not want Hawaiian independence, wants to stay now and forever, a part of the United States. At most, they can go along with a degree of reparation – ala the Native Alaskan Settlement Claims Act, or the Aloha bill with an attached extermination clause! They see Hawaiian rights only to the extent of Indigenous people’s rights to autonomy within a U.S. colonial regime.
As for me, I choose to use whatever tool, weapon, device, tactic, or advocacy that is appropriate to the fight for Hawaiian sovereignty. As I’ve said before, “The quest is not to walk the straight path, but to learn to walk the crooked path straight!” To the extent Federal Recognition can provide advantages which can be used to advance our education, the protection of Hawaiian trusts, loan programs, etc., I say use those advantages. To the extent Federal Recognition will give greater assurance to the protection of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, to the protection of the Hawaiian Homestead programs, to the protection of and recovery of Native Hawaiian burial and other sacred sites, to the protection and practice of our traditional religious forms, to secure the perpetuation of our environment, I believe we should champion those provisions.
Any time any program within Federal Recognition calls for the extinguishment of our right to self-determination or any other right established in international law, we should fight against it and always stand firm that any declaration of such extinguishment made by the colonial administration is legally and morally invalid. We need not wait to see that call for extinguishment when Federal Recognition comes into effect. Even today, without Federal Recognition, the State and Federal government’s agents carry on a pretense that we must accept extinguishment of our National claims in order to work within the U.S. systems. We need to be vigilant to those attempts and stop it in its tracts.
An example of this practice was employed against me by Federal Judge Sam King who insisted that I could not practice law in the Federal Court if I refuse to say I was a U.S. citizen. He found me in contempt of court. I challenged that determination and the result is that I continue to be authorized to practice law in all the Federal and State courts in Hawaii, without having to declare U.S. citizenship. There are many other examples of such tactics to erase our identity as Hawaiian nationals. Many of our public schools continue to practice the morning American pledge of allegiance as part of the school day. My daughter, when in the 1st grade at Wai`anae, told her teacher she would not join in because the American government stole the Hawaiian nation from our Queen. The next day, a boy in her class said that if Pua`Ena need not say that pledge, he was not going to say it as well. Within a month, the full class refused to join in that pledge. Our vigilance in protecting our national identity must be a constant alert, regardless of whether Federal Recognition is accorded us by the U.S. government.
Progress has been made. You may recall the State/OHA attempt to call a Native Hawaiian Convention, sometimes called the Na`i Aupuni convention in 2016. Three significant things occurred there. 1 – the State/OHA did not require one be a U.S. citizen in order to be nominated or vote for delegate in that election process. 2 – the U.S. government’s Department of the Interior changed course in its final rule, dropping the requirement that a member of a Federally Recognized Hawaiian nation must be a U.S. citizen! 3 – the members of that congregation agreed that we should continue to strive for our full rights of self-determination as understood in international law! The failures of that gathering were numerous but let us not also observe those positive aspects of that aha. (My full evaluation is scheduled to be published soon.)
Hawaiian Independence and Federal Recognition contain numerous common attributes. We need to see the potential for both pathways to unite our people as we continue to strive to bring about our sovereignty. A nation divided against itself cannot stand.
A hui hou. Poka Laenui
Earlier, I addressed one aspect of economic fairness in tourism in Hawaii, and elsewhere. There are many other concerns but this is just a sample of the type of equity or pono we need to infuse with all of our activities.
The next area which I did not address is the humanity aspect of tourism, what’s good and what’s bad. Tourism or visiting is not good or bad in and of itself. People’s curiosity, wonderment, and discovery are wonderful things for the human spirit. Exchange of understandings, appreciation and friendliness are traits we should all support. But when that exchange of humanity is turned into an economic commodity within a run-away capitalist system, we degrade the beauty in this exchange and degrade the people who are used as pawns and “economic factors”. We somehow lose the essence of human interaction with a pretend sense of “Aloha” which cheapens the tourist experience and ourselves who engage in it merely for economic profit. We can compare it to fresh flower leis picked and sewn by human hands and plastic leis manufactured in chemical laboratories and mass produced on conveyor belts.
We need to reassess tourism as an exchange, first and foremost, of humanity and for Hawaii, Aloha. In all interactions among guests and hosts, we must cherish those interactions as valued cultural expressions of ourselves. Guests should come to our shores with some understanding of who they are, where they come from and what values they have. They need to explore what’s in their own baggage and what they can share with people they will interact with. Money is not the only commodity of trade on their end. They could also commit to learning of the history and cultures of Hawaii and return to their homelands as ambassadors of pono.
On our part, we must see tourism as people wanting to fulfill a part of their human spirit to explore, to understand, to experience, to learn of the vast treasures in this prism called Hawaii, which somehow is a window into many other parts of the world. We should be proud of our Hawaii, yet be frank about the challenges we face, in our environment, in our economic system, in our colonization by the U.S., and in our hopes and dreams of a future for Hawaii and the world.
In this fair treatment of Tourism from a humanities perspective, we can convert this important economic activity into a boon for Hawaiian political rights, for cultural rights of our multiple cultures, for religious tolerance and appreciation, for environmental protection, and many more things of great value to our society.
Aloha `aina, Poka Laenui
This is a facebook entry on Jan. 3, 2019 in a different person’s account. However, it seems the subject is important enough that I thought I should share it on my own facebook account. A person named Vernal writes: My argument stands firm, Fed Wreck is of no benefit to Hawaiians as it is presented, it is in my opinion a surrender of all Hawaiian Rights to an empire bent on establishing total colonization since failing to properly annex Hawaii as prescribed by international law. I see they’re maneuvering as an attempt to convince Hawaii to disregard the illegalities used to possess the Hawaiian Islands and forget the history of failure and just all out aggression, oppression, and belligerent military occupation of lands they do not pay for. America is not a picture of perfection, they lie to their people with propaganda about having to go to war to protect American Freedom when there is no threat of any kind. We need not be an American Colony, so why are we?
Here is my reply: Mahalo for your well stated position on Federal Recognition and the implied juxtaposition for Hawaiian Independence. I believe your statement is very valid. I understand it very well.
I also believe that there are other Hawaiian nationals who have reason for their own to support Federal Recognition as a pathway to pono. Here are some of the arguments on the other side of the question:
1) Federal Recognition is not equivalent to Extinguishment of our International Rights of Hawaii and her citizens/nationals. If you review the earlier expressions of Federal Recognition under the various proposed statutes introduced by Akaka and Inouye, those versions were also clear that the statute would not constitute an extinguishment of the international rights of the people. I kept my eyes on this point while the Akaka bill winded its way through the legislative process. If you see any words of such extinguishment, please point them out to me. Let me also note that the DOI final rules do not limit membership in that Hawaiian nation they speak of NEED NOT BE U.S. CITIZENS! Did you know that?
2) The concept that a colonizer is free to extinguish human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as international humanitarian and decolonization rights simply by a domestic law or declaration of that colonizer is contrary to the whole principle of international law. That does not stop such colonizers as the United States of America from trying to do so, but it also demands that we remain eleu and step into the fray whenever that attempt is made. (See the International Call for the UN to review the action taken to remove Hawaii from the list of places to be decolonized, as well as the UN General Assembly Resolution we are submitting to specifically achieve that – found at www.hawaiianperspectives.org under United Nations Tab)
3) If you review the document which came out of the Na`i Aupuni congregation in March 2016, you may be interested to note that the Preambular statement was very clear regarding our rights in the international community. It read in part: We reaffirm the National Sovereignty of the Nation. We reserve all rights to Sovereignty and Self-determination, including the pursuit of independence. (See paragraph 2 of Preamble, Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation)
It repeats itself in stating: Article 4 – National Right to Self-Determination
The Nation has the right to self-determination, including but not limited to, the right to determine the political status of the Nation and freely pursue economic, social, cultural, and other endeavors.
You can find the proposed Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation at www.hawaiianpersepctives.org under documents tab, Hawaiian Sovereignty
4) I agree with your statement, America is not a picture of perfection. Even most who support Federal Recognition agree with that statement. Your declaration that “they lie to their people with propaganda about having to go to war to protect American Freedom where there is no threat of any kind” is merely the beginning of the imperfection of the U.S. government! That list could continue much longer.
5) However, that does not mean that for some people who are so steeped in colonization, will have no temporary or permanent benefit under Federal Recognition. Here are some reasons why others may say they can find some merit in Federal Recognition:
a) This would be greater assurance that the Hawaiian Homestead program will be more firmly protected as opposed to the precarious position it has today as a racially discriminatory program; We can have the protective umbrella of our homesteads while we continue to fight for our independence!
b) The protection over the Ali`i Trusts will be insured by Federal Recognition such that Kamehameha Schools would be able to continue with its policy of native Hawaiian preferences rather than having to go to court and pay off litigants before a final decision is made by the U.S. Supreme Court against the School’s tax status;
c) Other trust such as Lili`uokalani Trust will be protected even more firmly as a not-for-profit organization even though it has a generally preferential treatment to native Hawaiian orphans, half orphans, and Hawaiian communities,
d) Special legislation regarding Native Hawaiian Health and Native Hawaiian Education will be protected if Federal Recognition of the Hawaiian people is passed,
e) Protection of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and perhaps limiting the people who can seek the office of Trusteeship as well as those who can vote limited to only the po`e Hawaii instead of anyone else in Hawaii, including the opportunity to design a place among native Hawaiians who are not living in Hawaii and those who may declare themselves Hawaiian nationals rather than limited to only U.S. Citizens, as is the present requirement;
f) Establishment and extension of a Native Hawaiian school system without having to face the suits against discrimination;
g) Establishment of a Native Hawaiian national banking system across all of the Hawaiian islands;
h) Development of a Pacific Island consortium of trade, sports, cultural exchange which is limited to Hawaii and other Pacific Islanders to the exclusion of the U.S. government, somewhat of a similar kind as the Kuna people of Panama.
i) Many other possibilities can be achieved under Federal Recognition, limited only to our imagination and willingness to pursue.
6) Federal Recognition need not be an end. It can be a stepping stone to greater international recognition. Study the decolonization path of Vanuatu, previously the New Hebrides, colonized by two colonizers, England and France in what was called a Condominium arrangement. Because of the competing colonial laws which both ruled over the local people, everyone agreed to create a third entity, an internal colonial structure over which the local people could develop their own government over their own affairs, a sort of Colonial (Federal) Recognition. The people went along with that arrangement, formed their government, and subsequently took a vote, one for decolonization. That vote outcome began the process of this colony, New Hebrides to emerge into that beautiful nation of Vanuatu, independent and free.
7) Once a “nation” is recognized by the Feds, whatever colonial limitation is placed over that “nation”, it is more than just a legal structure created by Federal Law. It becomes a political personality whose growth and expansion, when managed properly, can eventually become the next Vanuatu of the Pacific. It can have a political presence in the Pacific Islands Forum, a status in one of the United Nations special categories with standing at its various committees, at the U.N. General Assembly, as a transitional authority or as a liberation organization. Such a political entity need not be limited by Federal Recognition laws but can grow and expand far beyond such limitations. That is the story of empowerment!
I have tried to present another perspective to Federal Recognition. But more important than being posed as a choice between this OR Independence, I suggest the Hawaiian nation and our quest for Pono is broad enough not to be limited by that limiting word of exclusion, “OR’. Hawaiian nationhood is broad enough to be inclusive.
We can move forward, and we should move forward in a broad expression of our human rights and fundamental freedoms. We should move forward under an INCLUSIVE banner of “AND”. We should not be dividing ourselves as one or another side but recognize that we are all struggling for the same goal, Pono in our Hawaiian nation.
Against I recite Abraham Lincoln’s caution: “A Nation Divided Against itself cannot long Stand.” As well as Jonah Kuhiō waring, “Stop acting like the alamihi crab, pulling one another down as we try to get out of the bucket!” Inclusion is the path toward Pono.
A hui hou,