A light rain fell on Koko and me as we were walking this morning, creating a sort of flashback to our stroll along Hanalei Bay yesterday afternoon, when showers were coming and going, but mostly coming. That didn’t seem to deter the tourists, who were clustered in the water right where signs warning of a rip current were posted.
The heavy cloud layer broke just long enough to reveal a waterfall plunging down the face of Waioli and then all the mauka grandeur was hidden behind dense layers of floating mist.
Isn’t it remarkable, my friend noted as we walked along the bay, that something so essential to life just falls from the sky? And yet so often you hear people grumbling about the rain, showing a total lack of appreciation for the abundance that is naturally bestowed upon us.
She then went on to tell me about a iPhone application that makes it easier to have extramarital affairs — aka “hiking in Applachia” — without getting caught. It seems the site experienced membership surges after Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day, when men and women, respectively, tend to feel especially unappreciated.
Ahhh, yet another example of the incredible sway that consumerism and commercialism have over our gullible society. When folks don’t get the cards, flowers, gifts or lovey-dovey strokes that Hallmark and advertisements hold out as the “norm” on randomly designated days, they feel neglected and start seeking greener pastures.
While we’re on the subject of green pastures, I hear there’s a good chance the farm worker housing bill will be shelved by the Council, whose planning committee is set to take it up again today. Apparently some of the original proponents have come to realize that a number of issues, such as CPRs on ag land, need to be resolved first to ensure that it doesn’t turn into yet another morass of ag land misuse. In pushing this bill as THE way to "save ag" and foster its "resurgence," some folks demonstrated a distinct lack of appreciation for both the complexity of the issue and the history of ag land abuse on this island.
The Garden Island published an editorial on Sunday that underscored the critical role that enforcement — a planning tool so often MIA on Kauai — must play if the Council is to approve such a bill. This, in turn, prompted a predictable letter from Realtor Mike Dyer, who helped create and sell so many of the ag parcels that now grow gentleman’s estates in Kilauea. He also played a key role in dismantling the plantation’s irrigation system. Dyer wrote:
In fact, a great deal of the land currently designated as “agriculture” on our zoning maps is unsuited for contemporary commercial farming due to any number of factors, which can include poor soil, rough terrain, limited markets and lack of sufficient irrigation water. Many of the lands currently zoned agriculture were not even suitable for sugarcane or pineapple production.
The county is currently making an effort to designate “Important Agricultural Lands” throughout the island. This process may finally result in a differentiation between lands truly suited for commercial agriculture and those lands that have been, for a long time, “agricultural” in name only.
Hmmm. So what role do you suppose the extremely powerful real estate lobby will play in this sorting out process? And do you suppose it will have the interests of the general public, or bonafide farmers, at heart?
One thing that has troubled me about the worker housing bill, aside from the fact that it’s ripe for abuse and primarily an effort to legitimize illegal structures in Moloaa, is the lack of support by so many of the island’s longtime local farmers. If it’s so great for ag, why haven’t they jumped on the bandwagon? Farm worker housing is a good idea. Let's just make it more inclusive, and do it right from the start.
The same holds true when it comes to reforming the nation’s healthcare system, where we’re seeing evidence that the health and insurance industries are heavily influencing the process to ensure that it doesn’t include a public insurance option.
Meanwhile, people across the nation are pushing for a single-payer plan, including yesterday’s demonstration at ABC News, where a petition protesting the network’s exclusion of such an option from its coverage was presented, and a rally in North Carolina:
Sarah Buchner, chair of the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, attended the rally. She said, "It comes down to the fact that we've got a bunch of rich white senators with Cadillac insurance plans trying to tell students, working people and poor people that we don't have the money to pay for health care. They are liars. If they would stop spending all our money to occupy other countries we could pay for whatever the people need. It's the same old story of the people with the bread telling the hungry to go eat cake. We all know how that story ends."
Of course, we all know this nation could easily pay for universal health care if it would simply redirect some salad from the gluttonous war machine. But universal coverage in itself isn’t enough. To me, it isn’t much of a reform if we all get coverage, yet we’re restricted solely to the treatment modalities that fit within the rigid AMA box.
Let’s open it up to include treatments by naturopaths, acupuncturists, herbalists, chiropractors and others who look at the whole person when providing care and seek to keep their patients off the prescription drug treadmill. Let’s give alliopathic doctors a little more time to spend with their patients, instead of cranking through 30 or 40 appointments per day. Let's give people a chance to be active participants in their own health care, rather than passive recipients.
Now that would be a truly revolutionary reform, one that gives some recognition to an extremely valuable component of the health care field whose contributions so often go unappreciated. If we’re just going to extend the same crappy care to more people, what's the point?