Blow Me!

SUBHEAD: The sense that people in Honolulu are "owed" this project may, by itself, be the biggest impediment to the Big Wind .

 By Andy Parx on 13 July 2011 for Parx News Daily -  

Image above: From (

There's a big difference between an angry young man and an angry old man. While the former may be credited with social movements that change the world, the latter is usually associated with sending back soup in a deli. We never had a big problem with what many have contended is our own need for anger management, especially given the need for ginning up a good infuriated rant when the powerful take a dump on the little guy. But after some recent personal turmoil we've found that we just can't seem to find the requisite ire anymore, cold soup notwithstanding. Until, that is, we started to pay attention to what's being called "The Big Wind" project. For the uninformed the billion-dollar-idea is to build a slew of windmills in order to fulfill the wasteful gluttonous Honolulu population's bloated energy needs, not on O`ahu but on Lanai and Molokai, and connected by an underwater cable.

 And, in a SuperFerry redux, it seems that the state and the electric company HECO are going to ram it down the throats of the people who live there whether they like it or not. And like it they don't. On the PBS program Island Insights last week local Molokai activist Walter Ritte explained that on a recent trip to Honolulu he had to go shi-shi and walked up to the bathroom where on his approach the door opened up automatically. The the toilet flushed itself when he was done. Next the faucet rained down water without him touching it and when he finished washing his hands the self-activating paper towel dispenser automatic rolled out a sheet to dry his hands.

And, to paraphrase Walter, these people want to screw up half of Molokai rather than give up their robotic bathrooms. But the thing that spurs anger among Lanai and Molokai denizens is the same sense of entitlement by the Honolulu settlers and their local enablers who have taken the attitude that they are somehow owed the project.

And, the people who live there be damned, they're going to get it. Just like with the SuperFerry, O`ahu denizens just don't get it. They just can't figure out why we wouldn't welcome them to come in an take whatever we've got- which ain't much- since "we're all in the same canoe," forgetting that we've built our canoe to accommodate about a tenth as many people.

And if you want to see an example of exactly the attitude that irked Kaua`i and Maui then, and Molokai and Lanai today, you need look no further than a commentary in today's Honolulu Star-Advertiser by columnist and business lawyer Jay Fidell. He starts off demeaning the residents for even questioning the project calling objections "a litany of charges" and saying "(w)e all know that these endless demands for information and meetings aren't for a good reason, but only to perpetuate the potshots."

But it only gets worse. Fidell then launches into a rant of entitlement claiming that Honolulu's need is justification for turning Molokai into their personal power plant. He starts off by saying:
 Claims of ownership in the wind don't work in the 21st century, especially in a state that must shift to renewables, and quickly, to survive. The wind, like the air, is a public resource. No group, even an indigenous one, can "own" and deny it to others. These claims are not and cannot be in the public interest; they distract and obstruct implementation of the state's clean-energy mandate. 
And how exactly are you planning on harvesting that wind? From up in the sky? No, on the land- the land that serves first and foremost those who live there not people who think their wants justify the theft, as is the American custom. Then comes the big one - the extortionate threat we heard from many in Honolulu during the SuperFerry debacle.  
The rhetoric suggested that one island can tell another island to take a hike, but that's not sustainable when one island is dependent on taxes paid by the other. Aren't we all one state; don't these resources belong to all of us? Two islands, not even political subdivisions, openly turning their backs on state policy can only lead to constitutional crisis. Didn't we work this out in 1865? Grrrrrrrr. Why not cite 1893 Jay? Then comes the last refuge of a scoundrel in Hawai`i- the use of the tourism bureau sense of "aloha." Ritte has his own windmill and wants to return to subsistence living, which is his right. But he wants the many to support the few, and in return the few to withhold from the many. That ignores local values of kindness and sharing. 
Kindness and sharing? The real "local value" of aloha is respect. You don't come in with a sense of entitlement and take advantage of the good nature of the people to steal them blind- you ask and abide by the answer. It's reminiscent of the old story about how when westerners got here they had the bible and the people had the land. And in a few short years they had the land and all the people had was the bible. It's been said that the billion dollars could put photovoltaic system on every roof in Honolulu generating as much or more juice then the Big Wind project.

But then of course HECO couldn't really execute their business model of "we sell you electricity." Insanely enough, at one point Fidell argues against this suggestion by claiming that photovoltaic is "intermittent" in that it only generates electricity during the day. Of course he fails to mention that the same is true of wind which doesn't give juice when the wind stops blowing. Finally he says "the best thing (Ritte) can do for the people of Molokai is to negotiate a good benefits package. This would be a matter of fairness." Fairness?

What, your gonna give them $24 in beads and trinkets? Or another Mahele where this time you give them the land and they give you a community center and a highway right through the middle of the pristine area currently used by the majority of Molokai citizens for subsistence, according to Ritte. It should be noted that the offer of free electricity for the people of Molokai and Lanai has never been on the table.

The sense that people in Honolulu are "owed" this project may, by itself, be the biggest impediment to the Big Wind. But they didn't see the handwriting on the side of the SuperFerry and, it seems, they won't be noticing which way the wind is blowing now.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Lanai Challenges Bi g Wind 4/27/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Big Wind Storm 4/15/11


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