End of Kauai's Economy

SUBHEAD: There is are good reasons why our agland is disappearing to GMO corn, vacation rentals, and billionaires MacMansions. Image above: Detail of painting by Diego Rivera of work on a sugarcane plantation, 1931. From (http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rivera/rivera139.html). By Juan Wilson on 7 July 2010 - Roll back the clock forty or fifty years, and the economy of Kauai was built on a foundation of sugarcane and vacation resorts. There was nascent private and public service industry and a smattering of military related jobs, but the bulk of the money coming to the island was from tourism and agriculture. GMO Corn replaces sugarcane Then bad things happened. Sugar production was already on the wane, but operations like Gay & Robinson plugged away as if that would get turned around. It didn't. The introduction in 1985 of New Coke using corn syrup to replace cane sugar signaled the end for sugarcane on Kauai. It also was the starting gun on the economic bonanza of GMO production. GMO corn companies are not in the food production business. They are chemical companies. They are experimenting with the genes of mass produced crops to control them, control who buys them and attach a dependence on their chemicals to these industrial crops. They make crops which are dependent on their pesticides to germinate, and which are tolerant to their pesticides. Their seeds have a terminator gene, so do not reproduce. Therefore you have to buy seeds again each season. They hold patents on their genetically modified crops, and they prosecute any farmer whose crops contain their genes, even if the farmer is not responsible for the infestation of his crop with these genes. The primary ingredient to the chemistry, energy sources, and soil needed for what they do is petroleum. Companies like Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, etc. They now control the agland once used by the cane plantations of the westside and are continuing to grow. They are the new plantation barons. They are building a partnership with the US military and its subcontractors (ITT, Raytheon, general Dynamics, etc.) to limit access and control circumstances on the westside of Kauai. Tourism for the Wealthy Tourism continued to be a mainstay of our economy. There were a few blips along the way: West coast dock strike, OPEC oil crisis, Reagan Recession, etc. Tourism was not just for the rich anymore. By the 1970s it was something the middle class could do en masse. Jumbo 747s began overseas flights - and quickly became cattlecars in the sky. Destination resorts were available to service suburban families needing a week in paradise. Twenty-five years later, in 1997, when I returned to Kauai for a visit (and to introduce the island to my family) we did not even inquire about hotel accommodations. We looked for a house rental in Poipu. At that time it was $2,000/month for a two bedroom near the beach. That was significantly better than renting two resort hotel rooms for a month. In 2001, when we moved here permanently, that same house was renting for north of $4,000/month... still a bargain. There is a compelling reason house rentals are preferred to hotels for many visitors that come to our island. That will not be changing soon. However, since September 11, 2001, commercial aviation, and middleclass tourism has been on a death watch. It has gotten to be a nightmare to pass through the gauntlet of "Homeland Security" checks needed to get on a plane going anywhere. In addition, the airlines cannot make money with the present cost of fuel. The only way they can eke out supplementary income is to eliminate meals, charge you for a pillow or carry-on bag. They want you to stay in your seat and not complain. That is a far cry from my first trip, in 1972, on a 747 from Honolulu to San Francisco where we were pampered by appealing stewardessses and the front of the plane had an open bar with a lounge singer at a small electric piano. I think flying is going to get so much worse that commercial aviation as we know it will end. Those flying from here to the mainland will be the rich going by charter or private jets. The rest of us will be lucky to ride a ship in steerage. All this, in effect, will suck the joy out of a trip to paradise for a week for middle income families. Tourism will become a high-end pleasure reserved for the rich. Most of these tourists will be looking at longer stays away from the rabble. Isolated homes on beachfront and rural meadows (agland) with great views and amenities will be preferred. Have you noticed how the farm workers housing legislation has been shoved aside and linked to re-examining vacation rental legislation for agland? Guys like councilman Jay Furfaro, who managed resorts for a career, know that the Kauai hotel business is going away. He thinks we need a transformation of the business to accommodate visitors Billionaire Bunker Down Lastly, we are in the middle of an invasion of billionaires who have plundered the world and, now that things are in an advanced stage of eco-collapse, are seeking a place to alight to escape the coming hard times. They want large plots of semi-tropical land that can sustain them with lots of same minded people nearby, and with a service class to provide them comforts. We wrote back in 2005 in "Bunker Mentality of the Rich":

"Feel the anxiety of even the most privileged Sunbelters as they see increasing chaotic natural forces pummeling even the richest enclaves as the effects of global warming begin to kick-in.

Sense the thirst for unrenewable resources (i.e. water) in places like Imperial Valley, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and most of the mountainous yuppie-extreme-sport west.

Share the worry about crime, depression, child-safety, terrorism, sex-offenders, ethnic minorities, school violence, ID theft and cosmetic surgery that seems to fill the minds of America's well-heeled suburbanites. When you do you'll know why so many (that have made a financial killing on the mainland) now want to hunker down in paradise. Back on the mainland they are beginning to smell the smoke of an oncoming economic melt-down, and they want a safe place to run and hide.The rich are bunkering down here!"

After renting a few houses on Kauai over the years, some of the fabulously wealthy are reconsidering their escape move to Costa Rica or Paraguay and looking a a little chunk of the US that's isolated, where English is spoken, and the US military as a strategic interest in defending: Kauai. These people know better than we that the crash is coming. They are the ones who have had their hands on the industrial steering wheel. I suspect if this trend continues there will be a new order of business on our island. A kind of feudal/plantation organization backed up by the military and a few global corporations. If they want the agland here they will simply take it. Our humble county government, without a clue of any alternative, will gladly play lapdog. Only a serious de-industrialization process may stand in their way. Then we can build an economy founded on organic, sustainable agriculture that could export the 3 C's: coffee, cacao and cannabis. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Message from DOW GMO 6/29/10 Ea O Ka Aina: Potash King's Palace 6/24/10 Ea O Ka Aina: Bunker Mentality of Rich 6/25/05 .

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