I went walking on the bike path this morning because a friend wanted to, although I wasn’t thrilled, as it meant excluding Koko. We took the stretch north of Kealia, and for some reason this section of the path remains closed, although the locked gates didn’t deter us; we simply went around.
The old cane haul road has been repaved, with landscaping installed alongside, and a couple of little pavilions, and at the crumbling old landing, a look out has been constructed with pineapples in the wrought iron railing, like something you’d see on the grounds of a resort, which I guess is fitting considering that it’s within the pricey Kealia Kai environs.
While it was a lovely morning, and nothing could change that, I couldn’t help but feel that some of east Kauai’s charm had been lost with all these so-called improvements that turned a relatively wild coastline into a backyard for fancy spec houses and a well-groomed recreational area. As we walked, I recalled a comment about the path left on an earlier post that stated, in part:
just got back from kealia, and saw a small handful of people using the rather pathetic little 5 foot strip of concrete, seemingly without the need for taser-armed cops measuring dog leashes and policing their every move. The need for such microscopic regulation of the path is proof that for all of our talk of "aloha" on this island, we really hate each other and don't get along. Its dog eat dog, in the final analysis on Kauai.
I recalled thinking at the time that the writer was right on. Kauai folks love to talk about “the community” as if it’s some cohesive thing instead of countless little factions that have formed along the lines of race and wealth and length of time on the island and rarely interact and don’t get along and generally have nothing but disdain for one another, as quickly became apparent in the polarizing disputes over the path.
And that made me think of a conversation I recently had with my friend Ed, a kahuna. Ed told me that he and other Hawaiians of his generation (he’s 60) were raised with no prejudice toward the haole, who was viewed as the “kalohe (rascal) younger brother” in need of guidance and instruction. But now, he said, the Hawaiians are tired of teaching people who don’t want to learn and that peaceful co-existence has been replaced with overt antagonism.
Perhaps this "us against them" theme is so heavily on my mind because I’ve been reading Voltaire’s “Candide,” and stopped last night to ponder one passage in particular:
“You will find that the weak always detest the strong and cringe before them, and that the strong treat them like so many sheep to be sold for their meat and wool.”
And here we are, with that exact scenario playing out on Wall Street, which obviously is not completely melting down and must have some available investment capital because the sharks are feasting on the smaller fish, as evidenced by JPMorgan’s acquisition of Washington Mutual’s banking assets:
It vaults JPMorgan past Bank of America Corp to become the nation's second-largest bank, with $2.04 trillion of assets, just behind Citigroup Inc. Bank of America will go to No. 1 once it completes its planned purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co.
"[JPMorgan CEO] Jamie Dimon is clearly feeling that he has an opportunity to grab market share, and get it at fire-sale prices," said Matt McCormick, a portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel in Cincinnati. "He's becoming an acquisition machine."
So why, exactly, are we considering this $700 billion panic-driven rush job bailout? Even my conservative friends — yes, I do have a few — are appalled at the prospect of government getting so involved in the private financial sector, and worried about the prospects of runaway inflation. I mean, it’s not like the government actually has an extra $700 billion lying around.
This video clip seems to sum it up pretty well.
Meanwhile, the people are making themselves heard today in demonstrations against the bail out on Wall Street and elsewhere. This Democracy Now! report offers some interesting perspectives:
[The Indypendant editor]ARUN GUPTA: They may give it some window dressing about limiting executive compensation, but the real goal is to transfer huge funds to the investment banks, to the hedge funds, to central banks that created this mess in the first place.
WALL STREET INVESTOR: OK, it seems like a lot of money at the time, but it’s all going to get paid back in eighteen months. So they’re coming together. All these companies are going to be—have to refinance. It’s not as if the US government isn’t going to see this money again. And in terms of the economy in the long run, a company like AIG, if that goes down, those knock-on effects is going to go right down to the consumer.
Yes, it does seem like a lot of money, because it is. As to whether it all get paid back in 18 months, well, that sounds an awful lot like the kind of optimistic thinking that caused this mess.
So what is the likelihood of any real change, bail out or no? Not too great, according to this Democracy Now! interview, which shows that certain key players still hold sway and likely will continue:
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, who is [Treasury Secretary] Henry Paulson? I mean, we know he worked for Nixon, was the aide to John Ehrlichman, the ex-con, the man who went to jail; then went off to Goldman Sachs; he and Alan Greenspan still being considered the economic wise men, even though this all happened under their watch.
RALPH NADER: That’s when you know the system is decayed and corrupt, that the people who brought us this disaster—Robert Rubin, with Bill Clinton pushing through the financial deregulation monster in 1999, which we opposed, which opened the gates for this kind of wild speculation and this casino capitalism, is still an adviser. He’s an adviser to Barack Obama. He’s an adviser to members of Congress. Henry Paulson cashed out at Goldman Sachs in 2006 a half-a-billion dollars. And now he goes to Washington to bail out his buddies.
Yes, to paraphrase the comment that stated this post, it seems it’s dog eat dog in the final analysis on Wall Street, and the feds are preparing to throw this snarling pack a very juicy bone.