Our high unemployment due to coronavirus is the direct result of Hawaii’s poor political leadership, which relies on tourism.
Former Gov. Linda Lingle made the case more than 10 years ago on why we need to diversify away from tourism. She was right.
However, it would not be surprising if our politicians would like to bring in even more tourists once this crisis abates to make up for lost revenue. The problem with this one-sided approach is that our local ohana does not look so favorably on tourism anymore.
Before this crisis began, everyone was tired of the traffic, gridlock and overrun beaches that local residents themselves could not enjoy anymore due to the number of tourists. Also, the new norm will be social distancing, which means fewer people at beaches. Hawaii’s fragile environment needs to be protected for Hawaii residents and our future generations.
We always talk about taking care of our local ohana. Let’s use this time to actually start doing it and look at options to diversify. And let’s pray that this crisis is over soon.
Crack down on illegal vacation rentals now
Now is a great time for the City and County of Honolulu to really crack down on illegal vacation rentals. We need money, so levy and collect the fines. The money could be used for our own stimulus checks for those in need. And when the tourist economy finally does reopen, hotel rooms can fill with legal vacationers paying the associated taxes and employing workers who earn a living wage and benefits.
Let coronavirus crisis be a catalyst for change
The COVID-19 cloud could have a silver lining. Epidemics are like wars in human history; they are catalysts for change. Sometimes when we say “can’t,” it is because we never tried. Here are few of the items on my wish list:
>> We have a No Driving Day each and every month worldwide to reduce pollution.
>> All professional associations in health care create a fund to stockpile needed protective equipment, funded by a weekly voluntary contribution of $5, paid for by going without coffee or alcohol one day a week. Or we add $1 per month to the premium of every health insurance policyholder.
>> We use our new understanding of which workers are essential to make sure they get paid a good minimum wage. We stop looking past them when we walk by.
And so forth.
Apologies for how we treat Mother Earth
Dearest Mother: A not-so-happy Earth Day. For a few centuries we have violated you, abused you and extracted our fuels from you. We have created political and economic systems that have caused massive extinctions of our fellow species. We have not been kind to you, Mother. We apologize.
For next year’s Earth Day you will feel much better! You will lose far fewer fossils, suffer fewer storms and thrive on many more trees. We will take care of you and