Thursday, May 1, 2008

Musings: Lingering Animosity

It’s so nice to have birds as my alarm clock. I’m not talking about the chickens — a Honolulu friend terms them "crack roosters," because they're up at all hours — but the song birds that sweetly alert me to the sun’s impending arrival.

And today, I watched it come up, prevailing in its mighty effort to triumph over the clouds, because after all, it’s May Day, so we need some rosy golden light shining down on the flowers.

Ran into my neighbor Andy, who is recovering from eye surgery and unable to read, so I gave him a verbal update on the latest Superferry happenings from yesterday’s blog. If they had it together, he said, the Aloha Air cargo shutdown would have given them the perfect excuse to return to Kauai.

But they didn’t — in fact, they’re scrambling to handle cargo deliveries to Maui — and those who are thinking that the closure of Aloha’s air cargo service will provide impetus for the Superferry to return to Kauai may be disappointed to learn that the big boat isn’t coming to our rescue after all.

Even as food executives — or at least, the president of Love’s Bakery — were crying to Gov. Lingle, asking her to make the boat deliver Love’s bread to Kauai and the food industry lobbyist was beating the drum for the ferry’s return, the void was already being filled.

I happened to sit next to Brian Suzuki, president of Hawaii Air Cargo, at yesterday’s Small Business Administration awards luncheon in Honolulu. He told me that Pacific Air Cargo, which has planes that are larger, quieter and more fuel-efficient than Aloha’s, was going to start service to Kauai last night. The company will even be hiring a lot of Aloha’s workers.

So instead of shipments being delayed for weeks, they’ll just be held up a day or two, he said. United is also looking to get in on the Neighbor Island air cargo action, because it’s already operating direct flights to Lihue, Kahului and Kona from the mainland.

The news likely won’t sit well with the folks who left vitriolic comments on yesterday’s Star-Bulletin story, “Firms want ferry service.” A lot of Oahu and mainland residents are positively livid we said no to the boat, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they have this lingering animosity.

What do they care, anyway? They aren’t even riding the thing, as the passenger counts to Maui indicate. But that doesn’t stop them from telling us what we should do, calling the wrath of God down upon our heads or making like they know what the majority of residents here want. And they don’t even live here. What kind of fricking arrogance is that?

Now I’m sure it will just piss them off even more to learn we aren’t going to stew in our own juices as we slowly starve, or be forced to eat crow and beg the boat to come so we can have Love’s bread and cigarettes — the only two items missing from one store’s shelves.

In the short run, the air cargo upheavals will affect export of highly perishable Hawaii-made products like mushrooms and flowers the most, Brian said. And Hanalei Poi, a poi-like product that requires refrigeration, is apparently also feeling the squeeze. (Gee, maybe that’s a bit of what goes around, comes around.)

Anyway, in the long run, everybody’s going to be paying higher prices for everything, Brian said, whether their stuff is coming in on the ferry or a commercial airliner or a cargo plane or the barge because it’s all tied to rising fuel costs. And those higher costs are going to affect our farm exports, he said. Because even though the dollar is weak, which would normally increase overseas sales of commodities like papayas, the fuel surcharges are eating up those gains.

It looks like the farmers are going to eat it again, which is all the more reason to now support our local growers.

I was surprised to learn that seed corn — much of it grown right here on Kauai, and no, it’s not all GMO — is one of the biggest users of air cargo space in Hawaii, according to Brian. It seems that diseases and other problems have greatly slowed seed corn production on the mainland, so Hawaii is now supplying much of the world, with places as far away as France and Brazil clamoring for our crop.

Kind of makes you think a little differently about those fields over on the Westside.

One thing’s clear: The global economic picture has so many moving parts, and we’re all so interrelated, that it’s kind of miraculous things function at all.

Finally, the Advertiser picked up on Ian Lind’s Superferry lobbying disclosure story, but relegated it to the capitol blog. Now why do you suppose they don’t consider it worthy of coverage in the paper? Or is that just the reporter's way of sweeping it under the rug because he missed the story?


Anonymous said...

Local Kauai commenters in the GI indicate they want to use the service and are annoyed in that they percieve - rightly or wrongly - that they are being prevented by the obstructive behavior of a minority.

A desire to use the service to Kauai might explain some of the angry comments by folks on the other islands. Otherwise, I think some people are just generally galled to think that a minority through a sort of mob force of blocking the boat from the harbor and, barring that, the cars from leaving the boat, have effectively imposed their policy preferences on everyone else.

Of course, all the commenters might be mistaken in their assumptions about why the service is absent from Kauai. It's an open question whether it is actually due to demonstrators, or whether it is instead due to business/economic reasons, or some combination of reasons.

Andy Parx said...

My question Charley is why you and those settlers who worship at the church of Costco think that the majority who find the Superferry problematic should let you act like a two year old who’s so spoiled they cry because there’s only chocolate ice cream left. There’s a difference between shopping at Wal-Mart because you like the prices and doing it because you have to to survive. And a bigger difference still with those who enjoy the concept of Wal-Mart.

Some people actually can hold two thoughts in their head at the same time and analyze what the effect of the actions they must take to survive are and see who in part is to blame- the “true believers” in consumerism.

Maybe you people think it’s a minority who don’t want it because you only talk amongst yourselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't really have a strong opinion one way or the other about whether the Superferry decides to operate in Kauai. True, I certainly don't oppose it. If it ran I would probably use it, if the price was right. But I don't feel strongly enough to agitate for a resumption of service. In fact, you don't really see much pro superferry foot stamping. I think most of the overt emoting resides on the anti side.

Anonymous said...

OH, also, it's not that those opposing the ferry are necessarily a minority (who knows for sure one way or another at this point?) It's the ones who literally stopped the boat and interfered with the cars who are the minority that - to the extent one believes it is they who succeeded in halting the service - imposed its preferences on everyone else.

Anonymous said...

HSF and its supporters lost any claim to the moral high ground when they flouted the law and then bludgeoned a morally supine Legislature into letting them get away with it. Other things being equal, I'd probably be neutral to moderately positive on the Superferry, but rich outsiders who buy themselves a waiver from our laws deserve nothing but our contempt.

Anonymous said...

"Flouting the law" and breaking the law may be close in association; but, still profoundly different. So show them your contempt; boycott if you must, and dislike them as much as you possibly can. Just don't get in anyone's way. Using farce instead of fact lost you the moral high ground and you have no legal ground whatsoever.
Regards, Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

People who justify blocking the Superferry by saying it's immoral are no different from anti-abortion fanatics who try to block the entrances of Planned Parenthood clinics.