A smattering of stars, some in recognizable constellations, filled the middle of the sky when Koko and I went walking this morning. The clouds that hung all around the edges slowly moved in to cover the sparkling center, causing the world to darken, rather than lighten, as sunrise approached.
The darkness seems to heighten my other senses: the scent of citrus drew my gaze upwards to a tree loaded with oranges; an intensity of chirping pinpointed the hangout of crickets; my skin registered the stickiness of a spider web and the softness of a moth’s wings.
It’s the hardest time of the year for morning walks, but each day the sun is rising a bit earlier, and setting a bit later, and slowly, the night is shrinking.
So, too, it seems are all the economies around the world. A Google search of “economy shrinking” pulled up stories with datelines from South Korea, Singapore, Spain, German, Hong Kong and, of course, the U.S., which contracted at a 3.8 percent pace in the last quarter of 2008. According to the Associated Press:
Although the initial result was better than economists expected, the figure is likely to be revised even lower in the months ahead and some believe the economy is contracting in the current quarter at an even faster pace.
The report brought to mind discussions held recently with various thoughtful people of my acquaintance, talks that left all of us wondering just how the economy can pulled out of a tailspin without resorting to the old models of consume and overspend that are trashing the environment and caused this financial mess in the first place.
Of course, that is exactly the approach planned by Washington, where the House already passed an $819 billion “stimulus bill” without a single vote of support from Republicans.
As the Canwest News Service reported:
"We don't think (the stimulus legislation) will work and, frankly, are disappointed in the product that we see -- a lot of wasteful spending that won't create jobs and won't help preserve jobs in America," said Representative John Boehner, the Republican House leader. "We think there's a better way."
Yes, there must be, but who is articulating it? Congress already approved a $700 billion bailout, which was supposed to fend off a pending collapse. But aside from feathering nests on Wall Street, where unrepentant financial executives received $18.4 billion in bonuses last year, it doesn’t seem to have made any difference on Main Street.
Will this new stimulus plan, also financed with borrowed money and heavily laden with pork, really be any different?
Yesterday, Katy Rose hosted a KKCR radio show with Patrick Reinsborough of the SmartMeme project. He noted that we can either “put people back to work building cheap crap or installing solar panels on roofs.”
That’s the choice before us now. There is still wealth in the world. People still have money to invest. Where will it be directed? Can we finally move beyond capitalism and communism, neither of which has worked, and implement some creative new models that blend in parts of each? Or will we just resort to the old ways out of panic and fear?
In the meantime, we can do things to boost the local economy, most notably, spend our money here. Just 12 cents of every dollar spent in a big box store stays on the island, compared to 46 cents of each dollar spent at a locally-owned business. So while you’re looking to save money, think about whether you’re doing it at the expense of your friends and neighbors.
Speaking of friends and neighbors, The Garden Island has a story today that reports a KPD sergeant was fired for sexual assault, and three others —two cops and a civilian employee — were suspended:
A lieutenant was suspended for 20 days for unauthorized off-duty employment, falsification of records, failure to adhere to departmental policies and being untruthful during the investigation. An officer earned a five-day suspension for conduct that is “contrary to departmental standards and not practiced under the color of police authority.”
A civilian was suspended for 30 days for failure to “provide assistance to an ailing citizen in a timely manner that placed the person’s well-being at risk.”
But here’s the rub: we, the public, won’t be told just who those bad cops are “due to terms of KPD’s agreement with the State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers and other rules.” It wasn’t even clear from the story whether the sergeant is facing criminal charges.
Meanwhile, even people picked up for petty offenses have their names printed in the paper’s police blotter. Why should the cops be any different, especially those who are in positions of leadership and doing seriously bad things, like falsifying records, lying during investigations and committing sexual assaults? Don’t we, the people, have a right to know?
It’s great that Chief Perry and the Administrative Review Board are processing a slew of misconduct allegations, many of them reportedly holdovers from 2006 and 2007. And it’s great that the Chief is reporting on the outcome. But so long as no one is named, and the details are omitted, it may be difficult to attain what the Chief says he wants for KPD, and that's “to gain the trust and confidence of our community.”