Friday, April 15, 2011

Musings: One Thought Leads to Another

Rain was falling so lightly that it felt like wet wind when Koko, Pa`ele and I went walking this morning. It was just enough to make my skin shine, the dogs’ fur glisten, and as it grew heavier, I wondered how much radiation it carried, and recalled the words on one web site: “There is no safe dose of radiation.”

I thought of a woman who told me she had forbidden her children and grandchildren to go to the beach, because she was worried about their exposure to radiation in the water. So she keeps them inside, where they’re all exposed to her second hand cigarette smoke.

And that made me think of the mother I heard the other day yelling at her child, who looked to be about three, “Get in the house before I break your arm.”

Which made me think of concerns I heard voiced the other day that funding for Section 8 (HUD) housing may be dramatically cut, which prompted the City and County of Honolulu to send out a heads-up to all their Section 8 recipients, which caused those of us who heard this news to ask, “What will happen to all those people on Section 8? Are they just going to end up homeless?”

"But what do you do when there is no more money?" countered the bearer of the news.

Except there is money — for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Libya, where, according to a report on Democracy Now! today, the allied forces are going well “beyond the United Nations mandate authorizing air strikes to protect civilians and impose a no-fly zone” and vowing to keep up the fight until Gaddafi is overthrown, regardless of the cost in property and lives.

That reminded me of the warning that a Honolulu businessman gave the other day, about how insurance companies seeking to recover their losses on the Japan tsunami and earthquake will be dramatically raising premiums next year, and how that’s going to have global implications.

Which made me think of a New Yorker article I read recently about how commercial nuclear energy was going nowhere until Congress created a government-run insurance pool for the industry. The article went on to report:

After several decades and billions of dollars’ worth of studies, the U.S. still does not have a plan for developing a long-term storage facility for radioactive waste, much of which will remain dangerous for millennia. Instead, spent-fuel rods are stored at each of the country’s hundred and four nuclear power plants. More than two dozen reactors in the U.S. have aboveground storage pools similar to those that have failed at Fukushima—the only difference is that the American pools contain far more waste than their Japanese counterparts. In a conference call with reporters the other day, David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and the director of the Nuclear Safety Project of the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the risks currently posed by spent-fuel pools in the U.S. “about as high as you could possibly make them.”

And that made me think of a guy I heard on KKCR the other day — I didn’t catch his name, because the hosts so often fail to re-introduce their studio guests for the benefit of those who tune in late — talking about how he was trying to get some sort of hydro project with what sounded like a hydrogen energy storage component going here on Kauai. But apparently he hadn’t been finding much receptivity, and it pissed him off, not only because people weren’t embracing what he was trying to "give them," but they were asking how would it impact the endangered native Newcomb’s snails and or affect stream flow.

His take was, who gives a shit about the snails and stream flow when oil is killing whales and dolphins and warming the planet. And while it’s true that oil is a killer and our love affair with it is indeed a Faustian bargain, does that mean we should just ignore the environmental impacts of alternative energy sources?

Which made me think of people who write in comments that I shouldn’t get worked up about the chicken manure being used on the beach at Haena when there are more serious problems in the world. Which there are, but does that mean you can only choose to focus on one problem at a time, or ignore your own backyard while worrying about Libya or Japan or global warming or plutonium?

And that made me think about another comment that was made about how there was no more naupaka in front of Pierce Brosnan’s house than any other along that coastline, which is exactly the point: one person does it and gets away with it, then the neighbors follow suit and pretty soon the whole beach is planted.


Anonymous said...

You also forgot to mention all those 99'ers who've exhausted their unemployment benefits. Republicans seem to be cold hearted to whose that really need help while making the rich richer.

The nuclear waste issue is such a problem that nuclear power really shouldn't be an option right; luckily that KIUC candidate who advocated nuclear on Kauai didn't get in.

Still we do have to worry about the current KIUC who seem to be forcing the destruction of Wailua Falls.

Anonymous said...

People don't want to accept a return to a simpler life as part of the solution. Reduction of energy consumption doesn't seem to be part of the equation. Only now that gas prices have skyrocketed are people cutting back on driving. Its time to return to growing more of our own food in our yards and bartering w/ our neighbors to offset soaring food prices. We have some layer hens we're raising for brown eggs which provides manure for the garden. If we don't do these kinds of things to survive only the wealthy will be able to afford living here. Community gardens for those who don't have backyards is another option.

Our budget crisis would resolve itself if we ended the wars and forced the richest people in the U.S. To pay their far share of taxes. No need to cut services to the needy.

Anonymous said...

Our budget crisis would resolve itself if we forced the richest people in the U.S. To pay their far share of taxes.

Top 5% pay 53.25% of all income taxes
The top 10% pay 64.89%
The top 25% pay 82.9%
The top 50% pay 96.03%
The bottom 50% pay 3.97% of all income taxes.

The rich already pay more than their "far share" of taxes.

Anonymous said...

That's because of the obscene wealth they amass. How much money do they need to eat and acquire properties? More you make more you pay. Eliminate tax breaks for the rich!

Anonymous said...

That Chicken manure near the beach is nothing compared to all the old cesspools on the back-beach area that send human waste into the the subsurface water lens.

Anonymous said...

subsurface water lens.

April 15, 2011 10:20 AM

The Hanalei sites or west side sites of human waste pollution?

Anonymous said...

All bavk beach areas with cess pools but Haena and Wainiha apply here.

Anonymous said...

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Funny how wingnuts quote the stats on income taxes and then try to pretend that's ALL the taxes paid.

Lets just skip over SS, Medicare, property tax, sales taxes, and the rest and pretend....

Anonymous said...

Funny how wingnuts quote the stats on income taxes and then try to pretend that's ALL the taxes paid.

Lets just skip over SS, Medicare, property tax, sales taxes, and the rest and pretend....

Thanks for reminding me. They pay the lions share of all those taxes as well.

Anonymous said...

Democrat, Republican, TEA Party or whatever...

If we cannot learn to respect each other, and work together setting aside egos and dogmas, the USA will continue to become weaker and weaker as a Nation that cannot face up to and solve the challenges of Now and the Future.

If we have large discrepancies in wealth, between the rich and the poor.....and the rich will not give an inch on respecting and funding social programs that address the reasons and causes for WHY poverty,crime, ill health, and an uneducated support the elderly, the abused, and young and underpriviledged.....
We will as a society continue our downward spiral to unrest.

IF the 5 % or so ....the grossly financially rich that are running the country....won't give more of the already "too much" they your history

...the "masses" will eventually revolt with violence and chaos...and "take over"

Look what's happening around the world.

On a microcosmic plane, here on Kauai, we have similar challenges with "the rich" who take over the "common man's" access to cheap recreational venues in Nature, and greedily "take more than what they give back" to the community they "invaded".....a matter of opinion...

...but those who grew up here and those that have been for a long time....know that the island is shrinking.

Playground for tourists and those who own second or third homes are here on Kauai...maybe good for "business", it isn't great for those who live here.

Coming to live here requires the study and understanding of the Hawaiian and Polynesian culture...that was before "invasion" and how that has changed especially in the last 30 years....what's happening to the culture with the integration of other religions, philosophies and belief systems, investors, real estate developers, movie stars, and self made millionaires.

This is not Singapore nor Honolulu, but it could get there....but that another story.

We cannot just step over grave sites, and discount the ways of Hawaiian customs, and use money and power to get our way....exploitation of the "good" that is for All of us...not just the privileged few. Take your capitalistic heartless philosophy back to Wall Street or LA.

Or learn to understand and respect...the deeper meanings of "live Aloha". then support the values that are appropriate for living on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Because if we cannot all be in Aloha together...we cannot really make an impactful difference on the island....we are going to have more and more severe challenges in the future with climate, water, radiation, energy.

We have to all come together and Ho oponopono before we can begin to solve anything.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Why do people without money always want someone else's money ? Get your own.Why do people without money have mutiple children and then want others to pay for them. Be responsible for yourself and your family or don't have children. Perhaps if they had paid attention in school their lives would be richer...JMHO...Dirk

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Anonymous said...

Dr Shibai mahalo for your insightful and sensitive commentary. You said it well. But their are those like the person who commented after you that don't and won't get it. I do and again mahalo for that!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could explain what I don't get. Let me try again to explain that choices one makes affects their having children that one can't afford. It takes @$500,000 dollars to raise a child from birth until college is finished."If" you didn't have the child you would have the house paid for...choices and consequences....JMHO Dirk

Anonymous said...

Exxon Mobil paid no income tax in this country in 2009. It paid taxes in the Caymans, Bermuda and the Bahamas, but not here in the good old USA. According to the GAO, 2 out of 3 corporations paid no federal income tax between 1998 and 2005. All the protections afforded citizens without the burden.