Friday, October 2, 2015

Musings: Regressively Progressive

In the comment section of a recent post, a reader wrote:

I always thought of Joan as a progressive, just one who values truth.

This observation apparently infuriated another reader, who first fired off this comment:

Joan is a twisted paid shill for the agrochemical industry. She is not a progressive. Name one progressive leader in Hawaii who supports the kind of person Joan has turned into?

Quickly followed by this one:

Joan name one friend ion [sic] Kauai who is green or progressive and who supports the nasty mean character assassination shell of a journalist you have become. Will even Caren Diamond or Barbara Robson [sic] step out publicly to endorse your personal vendetta against hooser and so many others? Name just one and not Jan Tenbrugengate [sic] please as we know he is getting paid as well. And of course I know you won't post this because you know that no one on Kauai (except the chemcos) supports who you have become.

Where to start, aside from laughing? Especially since both were submitted, so aptly, to the “Dumb and Dumber” post. Oh, btw, Anonymous, if you're gonna use people's names, at least spell them right. And just FYI,  I'm not actually looking for endorsements, since I'm not running for office or prom queen.

Still, those two nasty-grams — and others I've received since I began challenging the dogma of the anti-GMO “green” crowd — did get me thinking about the concept of a political “progressive,” and what it's come to represent in some circles in Hawaii.

First, to be considered a true Hawaii “progressive,” one must never, ever speak up against the lock-step, bootjack group-think/group-speak. Questions and criticisms, most especially about the revered “leaders,” must never be publicly voiced.

Second, one must engage in the kind of regressive rhetoric and tactics that have endured for centuries. Like using women's scantily-clad bodies to attract attention. Fear-mongering. Witch hunts. Lies and deception. Shaming. A "with me or against me" mentality.

Third, one must shame and denounce all farmers, save for those who produce food organically and/or as inefficiently as possibly.

Fourth, one must embrace all the latest technology on one's phone, while working feverishly to stop its employment in agriculture.

Fifth, one must fetishize one's food, while turning a blind eye to the malnourished and hungry in the developing world. Or better yet, one must say quietly (because it's not yet PC to say it publicly) to one's “progressive” friends, “Why should we worry about the starving [fill in the blank]? We have enough of 'those people' already.”

Sixth, one must always use the word “industrial” when discussing any farm larger than a few acres, “factory” when describing any animal feeding operation, “drench” when referencing a pesticide application and “shill” when describing someone with a different point of view.

Seventh, one must pontificate, march, post madly on Facebook, yammer on KKCR and stage publicity stunts in Swizerland, but never actually do anything concrete to address the problems, much less get one's hands dirty.

Eighth, one must believe fervently that anyone who doesn't share one's world view is wrong, evil, or to use the words of another recent critic, “damaged.”

Ninth, one must adopt an attitude of sanctimonious self-righteousness, which prompts one to (always anonymously) write things like, “Much love and light to you Joan Conrow! I hope you soon can catch a clue, and finally begin your much needed healing. The world will be a much better place when you finally resolve your inner demons. May your savaged soul soon be soothed."  

Oh, and one must always sign hateful missives with “alohas.”

Tenth, one must worship ego- and greed-driven demagogues as political saviors who will make everything all-G — just as soon as they can accumulate enough of your cash to get elected.

Eleventh, one must eschew all forms of introspection, and doggedly refuse to change one's mind, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary.

Yes, this is the kind of “progressivism” that has taken hold in Hawaii, eclipsing the work of good people who are doing good things to bring about positive change. 

It's the kind of progressivism that makes sensible people loathe to seek office, or serve in government, because they've seen just how nasty and mean the so-called progressives can be when things don't go exactly their way.

So given that definition, no, I'm not a progressive. 

But given this one, I am:

a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas. Synonyms: innovator, reformer, reformist, liberal, libertarian.

Mostly, though, I don't think too much about trying to define or categorize myself. To borrow a phrase from Popeye: “I Yam What I Yam.” Whatever that is.

To quote a Kauai friend, who some might consider both “green” and “progressive,” though he's also so much more, and less:

“You can't put Joan in a box.”

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

That about sums it up!

Joan, a day without a blog post from you is a day without hope and cheer!

Thank you for shining the light on this dark and sad episode of Kauai's unraveling.

Anonymous said...

Joan has built her own box around herself.

Lboyd said...

Militant vegetarianism has always been a wing of progressivism and progressivism too was tied to the Republican Party. It just never gets very far because it's basic ideas are rooted in ignorance of the world. And it's tiny base is vastly reduced by another wing of progessism that actually works regulation. In the early twentieth century there was a vegetarian wing, but it was the result of awful food production practices. Part of that era is still with us in the Kellog corporation that produced cereal as a health food. But along came along heavy food regulation and they pretty much collapsed. Today a lot of this rests on our shitty medical care system. So you have fads, and organic veggies as health measures, because of limited access to doctors. Right now it's simply going to go away, being another interesting little dead end movement.

Anonymous said...

Joan- Why protect yourself?
Te information you provide is on both sides of the so-called political spectrum.
You publicized the TVR debacle and essentially thru your efforts and the the 2 Northshore gals got the most significant zoning change in years. You also broadcasted Mr Bronstein's significant work and ultimately the change in shoreline setbacks.
People who know of you, know you are basically a far lefty type.
But, one can not really be a far lefty commie type if you believe in the science of GMOs or the truth of big farming on Kauai.
Kauai is fortunate to have you. You may be the last bastion of the island being taken over by the fever that wealthy mainlanders bring. The hot temperature of anti-GMO, anti-Tourism, anti- development and in reality everything that benefits the island's economy. Nimbys, Da Hoos, MAson and JoANN a catalyst for killing everything that is local.
The rich have no ties to the island. They only want to keep "their" new found paradise as they see fit. They are unintentionally f*cking the locals out of jobs and housing.
So now Joan comes along, the first in many years of so-called journalists etc. that actually achieves a place where the POLITICIANS read and fear her work. Joan gets a blog going that thru consistent hardwork and fine writing has gathered a powerful following...thousands of readers. The blog that many love to hate.
Do not apologize Joan, you irritate everyone. And everyone needs it.
We have to come together on this island. Your work is essential in bringing to light the hypocrisy and self-serving nature of many people...from Da Hoos to the Mayor. But the Da Hoos takes the cake (and it looks like he is eating his cake as well)
Keep it up. Don't apologize. We know you support local farming. We know you see thru the complete f*ckin' BS that Neal "the Squeal" Norman, Gary Da Hoos, Mason etc believe.
They say do as I say. Let me keep my illegal tax payment history, my background in dealing land to rich haoles, my weird "political" machines, my sandbags on the beach, my hundreds of Ag CPR developments..Oh Gawd, please kill me slowly...the hypocrisy and hyperbole that lives on this island is death by a thousand cuts.
I love to hate your work Joan...but I love what you are doing.
Signed - A hard right gun totin' and pot smokin' hunter-gatherer.

Anonymous said...

"Name one progressive leader…"

Can't. There aren't any. They're all losers and followers.

Will the real progressives please stand up and take back the movement?

Joan Conrow said...

I forgot this one:

Twelfth, one must renounce corporatism as a scourge upon the Earth while meanwhile patronizing Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Toyota, Ben & Jerry's, Nike, Patagonia, etc., along with the oil companies and airlines that take you wherever you want to go.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan for bringing clarity and light to this subject. Of course it is difficult to change the mind of those who have already made up their mind. But for those of us in the middle your clear writing style and thought process are extremely valuable and appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Spot on 8:38 AM, because there's always room for improvement. For all the drama and frenzy driven issues of today, ten, twenty years, a hurricane from now Kauai and planet earth will continue to spin on, and in no time at all we'll all be gone with a whole new batch of humans to solve, resolve, and manufacture a whole new world of issues.

Dawson said...

It's no surprise that the attack strategy against Joan exhibits all the characteristics of a cult attacking the credibility of a whistleblower. Religious or political, the psychological profile is the same.

See Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm

Alan Gottlieb said...

12th - One must believe in chem-trails?

Anonymous said...

airlines that take you wherever you want to go.

Joan, you seem to travel very alot. How many times have you flown in the past 5 years? You think your contrail is special?

Many locals have never been on an airplane. Many have never been to the continent. Very different jet fuel footprint. Chem-trails or contrails, your impact is greater than most.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be acquainted with both Joan and Jann. And agree on what we do, and disagree on what we don't. Which is often. But all of us present our arguements concisely and without adopting obvious hoaxes or scientific nonsense. We mostly disagree about what may be a con game, and what is not. Voodo is believed in Haite, GMO by a similar group on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

I personally never travel unless I know a really good chem trail follows. That is just the way I am. I believe they are to cure stupidity. Hence feared by some. That is just me. I travel often.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, this blog post brings strains of Sammy Davis Jr. singing "I Did It MY WAY" to mind.

Anonymous said...

Regarding point number two: Do scantily-clad men count, too?

Anonymous said...

My vote goes to Joan for prom queen.

Anonymous said...

Joan-
All is well. As long as you do not write about:
1- The County explosive hiring policy since Mayor Carvalho took office.
2- The real effect of Form Based Planning which will raise the cost of all local housing. Did not INCLUDE the large land holder's input. DOES include JoAnn's bikepaths and belief that people will bike or walk 3 miles uphill to get a cup of coffee.
3- Mike Dahlig's weird absolute control of the Planning Commission and personal interpretation of the rules and regs. The Planning Dept "preferential" enforcement.
4- The multi-generational housing and illegal units in all neighborhoods. An offshoot of anti-local housing czar JoAnn's efforts.
5- The incestuous nature of Da Hoos, Mason and JoAnn and their many anti-local friends as they try to lock out local housing and jobs.
6- The interest in having public money go into re-vitalizing Lihue/Rice Street just because the Powers that Be have brewskis at the Beer Pub. No owners on Rice Street have been contacted.
7- Why hard felonies are not prosecuted and the Prosecutor prefers to get the low level offenders.
8- Why the Water Department uses a preferential interpretation with their opinions on who gets water meters.
9- Who is trying to get the Marrywanna Permits. Big story here.
10- The real demographic on new mainlanders voting power and their affiliation with anything anti-local housing and jobs. And their love of Unicorn Micro-Wave fanatic Felicia, JoAnn, Gary, Tim Bynum, Mason, Dylan Baby Hoos.
11- The real benefits the GF, G and R and A and B do for the island.

Anonymous said...

Actually on some issues, the mayors office or the Planning Department have polled businesses or residents of Lihue. Siuch as Rice Street parking, a Hanamulu to Puhi bypass and split residential/commercial-light industrial zoning.,Thr Bypass and the allowance of residents in lofts above businesses are extremely popular. As to the latter, it would make the town a safer place from burglary and open and legalize housing opportunities.it will return Lihue to what it was, with people living in the town itself. The Rice Street parking issue has mixed reception.

Anonymous said...

You always seem to target Gary, Joann, and Mason but you fail to mention the good Ol boys on council.

Remember this council out on hold the solid waste tax until after elections then subsequently added a triple tax to households from laying $6 a month for a 96 salon trash can last year to $18 a month for this year. Essentially going from $72 dollars a year to $216 a year. That's 3 times the amount to fund the county of Kauai's dream of making Lihue into a downtown metro area.

If these people like Oahu and the big city ambiance then move there and STOP raising taxes on Kauai to fund their dreams.

The county need to focus on the necessities and not the luxuries. The county and its inept cronies are what's wrong and taxes will keep increasing to FUND personal businesses as long as this phat dream is in office.

Anonymous said...

Taxes will increase to the point they destry Kauai. Now we have millions wasted on a new road and sidewalk to the Water Department. Huh? It is a fricken dead end, bra. We have these useless consultants and county agencies with micoagendas and self importance beyond measure. No amount of our money is good enough for them. Fire their useless asses and send them back to California. They can admire the poverty they infected that State with. Now the highest in the nation and growing.

Anonymous said...


There's a lot of talk about increasing property taxes. Hawaii residents pay the lowest effective tax rate of all 50 states. That's right the absolute lowest rates. Even when factoring in the higher assessed values, this only brings Hawaii to 34th in terms of total tax bills for owner-occupants. And when comparing owner-occupant taxes to median household income, Hawaii is ranked 42nd. Maui and Kauai are the two lowest effective rates in Hawaii, so while taxes have increased for some when the tax cap was removed our residents still pay dirt cheap rates. The statewide annual median property tax is something close to $1,200 whereas New Jersey residents have a median property tax of about $6,300. Our government officials have in large part shielded the residents from paying their fair share of the real cost of public services for decades. On the other hand, hotel and commercial properties have been paying greater taxes to subsidize the residents.

http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/property_taxes-01.png

Today’s map cuts through this clutter, presenting effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property tax actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value. Some states with high property taxes, like New Hampshire and Texas, rely heavily on property taxes in lieu of other major tax categories; others, like New Jersey and Illinois, impose high property taxes alongside high rates in the other major tax categories.

New Jersey has the highest effective rate at 2.38% and is followed closely by Illinois (2.32%), New Hampshire (2.15%), and Connecticut (1.98%). On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii has the lowest effective rate at 0.28%, and is followed closely by Alabama (0.43%), Louisiana (0.51%), and Delaware (0.55%).

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/weekly-map-sources-state-and-local-tax-revenue-property-tax

Anonymous said...

For two years now the local braddahs been in charge at council and what have they achieved? Zilch, nada, nothing. Oh, a repeal of a barking dog law. Quit blaming all the county's woes on the minority who dont even have the power to get an agenda item on the council agenda.

Rory Flynn said...

Re 2:35, yes, it's true our property tax rates in Hawaii are extraordinarily low. But that fact, by itself, is misleading. Our overall tax burden of income tax, general excise tax, property tax, fuel tax and myriad fees make us one of the most taxed states in the nation. The reason property tax rates are so much higher on the mainland is because incorporated towns, cities and counties on the mainland fund public school systems. Here in Hawaii, that's done by the state, in large part thanks to income and excise taxes. Increasingly, however, we see second home owners and part-time residents buying and building homes in the islands. With few exceptions, these residents don't pay Hawaii State income taxes. So, they help the revenue position of the counties, but not so much the state. Increasing property taxes only makes life more difficult for full-time and native Hawaii residents who already bear a huge tax burden. Discussing low property tax rates without understanding who's paying for our schools and who's not is simply deception. Let's not go there.

Anonymous said...

Ai concur

Anonymous said...

Rory,
Those living on Hawaiian Home Lands pay no property taxes, so again the government officials have shielded the from taxes. The low- to moderate-income owners also pay close to nothing thanks to Bynum's huge homeowner exemptions. The real squeeze is on locals that own multiple properties as the values have been steadily climbing and tax rates have risen dramatically for non-owner-occupied properties. While it is true that property taxes are not the only taxes facing Hawaii residents, a large portion of the taxes that go to the State come from visitors paying their GET and TAT on monies spent in Hawaii. It is also noteworthy to know that many municipalities charge fees for renting parks, gyms, and other facilities. Not the case on Kauai where only a nominal reserve deposit (which is later refunded) is being asked. While some states don't change income taxes, I'd ask you to look at what they charge in sales taxes. And name a state that doesn't change fuel taxes for maintaining roads. Again, Hawaii counties and specifically Kauai are at the low end of the taxing spectrum. In total taxes, Hawaii would still be close to the middle of the pack comparatively speaking. As I see it, political grandstanding has prevented moderate increases to taxes and fees over the decades and now the sudden catch up is much more painful to absorb to a populace that has grown accustomed to unrealistically low rats and fees. It's really easy to reduce the rates and fees but what services are the citizens willing to give up? Affordable housing, the Kauai Bus, Elderly Services, or Drug Prevention? How about reducing the size of the Police force, the Prosecuting Attorney staff, or County Council which have been the three fastest growing budgets? Can we get rid of the County Auditor now that it's proven to be just another political divide? Yes, staffing has grown during Mayor Carvalho's watch but Council seems to be equally responsible for this growth. The increased taxes and fees only seem to buy status quo. Roads, Parks, and County buildings are all in desperate need to repairs but that will take new taxes infused to do more than just keep up with collective bargaining raises. Sound bites from the likes of Hooser saying he cannot support any new taxes is not being realistic. Ross and Mel not supporting the fuel or vehicle weight tax is also dooming our roads to third world status. It's unfortunate that the revenues were not adjusted incrementally over the years to meet the needs of this county but shutting off monies necessary to improve our situation is truly penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Anonymous said...

3:33 what the F you talking about 2 years, it's been not even one year, typical Hooser and Chock supporter, always gotta lie and bullshit. No can tell the truth for once. Move back to the mainland.

Anonymous said...

2:35
If Kauai had to pay for our schools out of our property taxes, there would be an additional 8,000 per year per property. Hawaii is the highest taxed state when every thing is included.
You are spouting the same BS that many new comers who come from the mainland. You come from places where the Counties/Cities pay for roads, schools etc.
And Rory....our prop tax is NOT extraordinarily low. The Ad valorem tax structure is giving the County an extra ten percent of income this year...guaranz ball bearenz this money will be wasted.
The BYnum/Hoser/JoAnn prop reform raised taxes on all rentals...they are responsible for the 200 to 500 per month rental increases. It ain't supply and demand that is killing the people, it is bad policy.
Oh yeah, I have 2500 for monthly rent or 600,000 to buy a cracker box house.
C'mon Mel- You have the power do some good. Get off all of the manini shibai and fix things. Cut red tape, cut the county budget. But if half of the properties that pay prop tax are owned by mainlanders that don't vote, there is a built-in golden goose for the politicos to feather their nest.

Anonymous said...

Property taxes are extortion

Rory Flynn said...

5:23 On the subject of fuel taxes, Hawaii ranks 3rd in the nation (63.50 cents per gallon) for total state plus federal excise taxes on gasoline. We trail only Pennsylvania and New York. The national average is 48.88 cents per gallon. Check out this interactive national map ( http://www.api.org/oil-and-natural-gas-overview/industry-economics/fuel-taxes/gasoline-tax ) from the American Petroleum Institute on the subject of fuel taxes. The Tax Foundation states that Hawaii ranks 2nd highest among states levying an individual income tax. Key Policy Date ranks Hawaii's total tax burden 4th highest in the nation. See http://keypolicydata.com/blog-archives/2015/02/hawaii-has-fourth-highest-tax-burden-nation-2013/. CNN Money ( http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/total_taxes/ ) ranks Hawaii 9th highest for personal income tax, 1st in the nation for sales/excise taxes, and 4th for total taxes nationwide. These rankings differ slightly depending on the source, but there's no denying Hawaii residents are burdened with high taxes overall. Can government be more efficient? Absolutely. And that's where the focus belongs before local residents bear the weight of higher taxes.

Anonymous said...

Mel is frustrated in his position as council chair. He knows only one speed "bombastic self righteousness" and lacks the strategic creative problem solving skills, not to mention the interpersonal skills needed to accomplish anything on the council.

Lboyd said...

No propert taxes aren't extortion nor slavery nor anything except a tax. And it's a peculiar tax, it's the only wealth tax we have. Hawaii has extremely low propert tax RATES, and property taxes are county and municipal government taxes and not state taxes. The confusion comes in because we have abnormally low rates and extremely high property values. Comparing Honolulu with LA if you own a million dollar property in LA you would pay $22,000 in property taxes, in Honolulu it's 1,600. And that difference, which actually holds not only for California but Japan and China, is what fuels out of state demand and drives up property values. And it can be a tool for limiting what people here really don't like, out of state homeowners and vacation rentals. Simply charge them California property tax rates, or higher, and see what happens. And the vehicle can be a homestead exemption for local residents and local landlords while raising the rates on second homes and vacation rentals. (The last should be charged hotel rates anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wealth taxes are extortion too

Lboyd said...

Oops! Don't o calculation before coffees! The correct numbers for a million dollar property are $3,500 for Honolulu and $16,000 for LA. Higher for San Fran.

Lboyd said...

And while we are on the subject of taxes generally. The American Petrolium Institute publishes gas taxes because it wants to take our mind off of high pump prices. And our gas prices, even now, are unreasonably high. At $44 per barrel of crude, and with crude costs being 85 percent of refinery costs our wholesale price should be $0.92 cents per gallon. (You do the math). On Kauai you have one jobber that brings in the fuel. When Costco opened up he refused to bring in their fuel so they had to ship their own at higher costs. Similarly the tax foundation is a conservative organization that focuses on income taxes especially the top rates. It's sort of a con because of obscenely unequal income distribution rich people really don't like progressive taxation. So rather than talk about high taxes, which have virtually no impact on people's living standards focus on those high home, gas, and utility prices. And raise property taxes on rich out of staters.

Anonymous said...

We need trickle down housing policies. Build for the rich and eventually housing will be built for the rest. Same with taxes. Stop taxing the rich and the money that is freed up will find its way into the pockets of the rest. Go conservatives!

Manuahi said...

"And it can be a tool for limiting what people here really don't like, out of state homeowners and vacation rentals. Simply charge them California property tax rates, or higher, and see what happens. And the vehicle can be a homestead exemption for local residents and local landlords while raising the rates on second homes and vacation rentals. (The last should be charged hotel rates anyway."

Lboyd, your theory if false and only reveals that you have no idea how much huge money is out there. Raise property taxes and it will only mean that one must be even richer to invest here. If you think its going to do anything to make a house more affordable here, you are sadly mistaken.

What's messed up about property taxes is that they're (as you recognized) a wealth tax and are not assessed on one's ability to pay them. This means that they can force owner's out of their homes that have been in their family for generations.

Lboyd said...

And while we are on the subject of taxes generally. The American Petrolium Institute publishes gas taxes because it wants to take our mind off of high pump prices. And our gas prices, even now, are unreasonably high. At $44 per barrel of crude, and with crude costs being 85 percent of refinery costs our wholesale price should be $0.92 cents per gallon. (You do the math). On Kauai you have one jobber that brings in the fuel. When Costco opened up he refused to bring in their fuel so they had to ship their own at higher costs. Similarly the tax foundation is a conservative organization that focuses on income taxes especially the top rates. It's sort of a con because of obscenely unequal income distribution rich people really don't like progressive taxation. So rather than talk about high taxes, which have virtually no impact on people's living standards focus on those high home, gas, and utility prices. And raise property taxes on rich out of staters.

Lboyd said...

Manuals,
There is actually a huge area of economic research that indicates raising property taxes lowers home taxes. And the converse is true, in California when propert tax rates were lowered as a result of prop 17 it was found that every $1 lower property taxes were home prices rose $7. Second, read what I said, and stop discussing what you think I said. Let me repeat RAISE PROPERTY TAXES ON WEALTHY OUT OF STATE HOMEOWNERS not local residents. Since they are the ones driving up home prices to unaffordable levels cutting out that demand would stop it and lower home prices. so come up with an argument that addresses what I said. How in the world would a property tax that is only levied on the wealthy mean that they are going to be the only ones capable of "investing" here. And tha use of that last term is revealing. Generally an investment is a good thing you buy equipment that makes people more productive and more people are employed. This sort of an "investment" means you buy something that you leave empty for much of the year.

Anonymous said...

You are spot on 99% of the time. Thank you for your fearless journalism. Kauai needs more like you.
From Da Fishermen

Rory Flynn said...

LBoyd raises a very interesting point, perhaps one more compelling than the issue of property taxes. Capital equipment, as an investment, generates enterprise and long-term employment. Even the father of capitalism, Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, cautioned against excessive enthusiasm in real estate as an investment. Housing, as he saw it, was foremost shelter, not a place of enterprise. That perspective applies to Hawaii as well. Upscale housing has become an equity investment for folks who might be occasionally charitable, but who are otherwise too disconnected from the economy of the islands. Meanwhile, not enough local people earn a living wage. The count of food stamp (SNAP) recipients in the islands has doubled since the 2008 recession. That means we have too many working poor people. It's a problem that can't altogether be solved by tinkering with property tax rates, though it's always tempting to tax the other guy. So what's possible? Maybe ... just maybe, the groundbreaking work with ulu (breadfruit) undertaken at the National Tropical Botanical Garden offers a hint. They've already made batches of a truly excellent ulu beer. Yes, we can also eat it, but Kauai, like other neighbor islands, needs to capture out-of-state (non-real estate) dollars. What if the island took up ulu with a passion. What if Kauai made enough beer to export? No, it's not a total answer of any sort. But a micro-brewery with a trendy, unique niche market product might just generate a few decent jobs. We need to make stuff, not just sell off the land and tax it. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

You can both raise property taxes on wealthy out of state investors and vacation rentals and do other things. The idea is to discourage that investment which drives up not only home prices but also the price of land. So if you want to grow something commercially you better do something about that competing form of investment.

Rory Flynn said...

I agree. It's my hunch that solutions reside with land use laws and zoning ordinances as much as property tax rates. In any event, we need investment in real ag and ag infrastructure. In Ka'u on the Big Island, coffee farmers rightly worry about potential sales of land on 5,800 acres bought by Lehman Brothers before the 2008 crash. These hard-working lessees, and their award-winning coffee farms, warrant protection. Money, in today's world, can go anywhere in a split second. Filipino farmers cannot.

Dawson said...

3:20PM wrote:
You can both raise property taxes on wealthy out of state investors and vacation rentals and do other things. The idea is to discourage that investment which drives up not only home prices but also the price of land. So if you want to grow something commercially you better do something about that competing form of investment.

ka-Bingo!

Lboyd said...

Rory,
You suspect that high land prices are the result of "land use laws" etc. ? That's a supply side argument that simply covers up what is happening to demand. Homes have traditionally been a local market where prices are determined by local people's incomes. When rich people come in traditionally they too live in their homes, they drive up prices, buy out low income residents who move on. But we live on an island, no place to go. And the people buying up the property don't live here. So you have lots of people whose property tax billings have out of state addresses. It's 12 percent on Oahu, almost 50 percent on Maui, a little less on the big island. (DBEDT has a periodic report on housing).so you have lots of empty and expensive homes and land. Owned but not used. And the big industry is real estate. Ever wonder why all that available ag land is vacant on Kauai? It's owned. And it's really expensive. It why you think breadfruit would be a great niche crop. Land is too expensive for anything other than niche crops.

Anonymous said...

Beer, Kauai chocolate candies like big island, kauai chips like Maui, and many more products that can be made and sold for profit while creating jobs for the locals and transplants.

There's already wine and alcohol made and way too expensive Kauai chocolate but there's so many things that can be branded by the name Kauai and it will sell in the mainland and international markets.

Rory Flynn said...

Lboyd,
Consider that I'm not arguing with you, or anyone in particular. And it doesn't matter if hard information is obtained from the American Petroleum Institute or the Tax Foundation. For purposes of discussion, it only matters whether or not that information is correct. What matters, to my mind, is what's possible and what it takes to get there. I came to Hawaii 37 years ago. The one small property (in Puna) I put down money on I gave away. I'm well aware that in-migrants, rich or otherwise, can and do displace local people. I also observe that anger and acrimony get us nowhere. That's one of the many reasons I commend Joan for her reporting on the seed companies and the misbegotten logic of groups like the Center for Food Safety. Somehow, we're going to have to get away from conjuring up false villains and zero sum games. A little more than a century ago, a well-mannered muckraking journalist, Ray Stannard Baker, came to Hawaii and reported on the resistance of the sugar industry to a homesteading movement. Baker had the wonderful instinct to include in his series a gallery of photographs displaying an array of hapa youth (Hawaiian-Chinese, Hawaiian-Portuguese, Hawaiian-Irish, etc.) for his mainland readers to contemplate. In so many words, he said the future of Hawaii belonged to those with mixed skin in the game. It still does. And whether the land is monopolized by sugar planters or the new rich with viewscapes of lawns and infinity pools, we're going to have to focus on land use. And, I'll grant, taxes, too. But we can't drive all wealth away. We just don't have enough native capital to be that hostile. We can, though, invite people to contribute to solutions. If I was the mayor of Kauai, I'd get Mark Zuckerberg on the phone immediately. I'd say, "Mark, now that you're one of us, what are your plans to make your land productive and create some jobs?" Because, in the end, whether the land is owned by A&B, Grove Farm, a land trust or a billionaire, the question remains: is the land being put to use in a way that enables Hawaii's people to thrive?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:18 PM - That's true, except for the need to make a profit. Most of the crops you mentioned are still working towards making a profit. It takes a large initial cash investment, years of marketing and carrying a negative cash flow until hopefully the product will become profitable. That's why there are so few diversified ag ventures that last more than a few years. Many of those that do are on old farms where the land was bought generations ago and/or they use unpaid family workers. That's why you don't see new ag in fallow places like the old Meadow Gold Dairy out in Moloa'a. It's being land-banked by a wealthy individual. I'm sure he's been approached for ag leases. But since the land is being held for investment and eventual development and/or sale, the owner can't offer the longer term lease a farmer would need.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, The Progressive Gruber disciples will always lie and scare to force their beliefs on others, I am glad there are still a few true liberals left.

Anonymous said...

The only crop mr. Z is likely to grow is weed

Anonymous said...

"a Kauai friend, who some might consider both “green” and “progressive,” though he's also so much more, and less"

I want to meet him. Is he single?

Anonymous said...

People are more quick to criticize than compliment. For every person who is angry or hateful, there are probably about 20 more who are, conversely, pleased.