Monday, December 14, 2009

Musings: Skate on Through

The sky was a brilliant canopy of stars when Koko and I went walking this morning. The Big Dipper was overhead and Orion was preparing to slip behind Waialeale as we walked through a cold landscape that was too dark to see.

And then a little glow shone in the east and a sliver of rising moon popped up from behind the Giant, illuminating thinly quilted clouds that were tinted salmon by the sun that was soon to follow.

I was gazing upon that splendid scene when farmer Jerry pulled over to chat on his way into work. He said College of Tropical Ag staff will be furloughed for the last two weeks of the year, which translates into a 5% pay cut. While he was glad to have a block of time to work on his farm, it wasn’t exactly like he’d be able to forget work completely.

“We’ve all got plants and crops up there at the station,” he said, noting that he’d likely just go in on his own time to keep things watered, as would other employees. “Farmers hate to let things die.”

I mentioned that to my neighbor Andy when our paths converged just as the mountains were starting to stain pink and he said, “That’s the problem. Some state workers will put in their own time to get the job done and then the Republicans will say, see, we really don’t need all these workers, we can cut some more.”

I’ve noticed that at the Anahola post office, where the hours of the part-time assistant were cut, supposedly due to federal budget constraints. Now I often see Diane, the postmaster, still working at 7 or 8 p.m., trying to do the work of two people, with no additional pay.

So things keep functioning because of the efforts of those who are conscientious, while the slackers continue to skate.

Meanwhile, nuclear power, off-shore drilling, so-called “clean coal” and cap-and-trade are poised to skate on through Congress under the new framework for a climate bill unveiled by Sen. John Kerry. The emissions reduction target has been dropped from 20% to 17% — climate experts say neither are sufficient to keep global warming in check — and isn’t tied to a specific date.

So while we do not enough, entire nations, like Tavalu, hang in the balance. As Democracy Now! reported from Copenhagen:

On Saturday, Tuvalu delegate Ian Fry said Senate actions will determine whether endangered island nations survive.

Ian Fry: “It appears that we are waiting for some senators in the US Congress to conclude before we can consider this issue properly. It is an irony of the modern world that the fate of the world is being determined by some senators in the US Congress.”

Unfortunately for Fry and other indigenous leaders from communities on the front lines of climate change, “Uncle Sam never did give a damn about the brown man,” to quote Sudden Rush.

Speaking of which, folks are rallying on Oahu and Kauai today to protest the reported intentions of Sens. Inouye and Akaka to insert the ”Akaka bill“ into one of the federal appropriations bills that are to be voted on this way. Such a move would likely allow the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, as it’s officially known, to skate on through unchallenged, thus spelling an end to claims for independence and full reparations in one fell swoop.

Now there's an upright way of correcting the wrongs that have been committed.

Barring that pre-emptive move, Senate and House panels, including Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s House Natural Resources subcommittee, are set to vote on the bill this week, with Abercrombie saying he plans to resign his Congressional seat after casting several key votes — a yes vote on the Akaka bill among them.

Curious how the Honolulu papers are giving such a key issue so little play.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joan, for getting the word out on such short notice.

The protest against the Akaka bill is at the Lihue airport intersection today Monday.

The Hawaiians were there when the homefront needed to be defended from the Superferry, we need to help them now.
Mahalo, Joan.