Going out with the dogs into the cloudy mist of very early morning, my first thought was, wow, it’s dark. The days are long only on the tail end this time of year, as the sun dawdles and rises later each day.
The Kauai Police Department inexplicably dawdled for three years, reportedly conducting over 40 investigations and making some 11 arrests, before it took the sudden action yesterday to tear down “Pine Trees Inn.”
What I’m wondering is, why now? After seeing criminal stuff supposedly going down there for years, why did KPD finally decide it had to go yesterday?
A friend sent me the county’s press release on the action with the message, “Another landmark bites the dust.”
Indeed. I was at JJ’s for lunch the other day, and observed that “Pine Trees” was the only bit of localism in an area that is otherwise entirely dominated by tourists. But I guess even that was too much for some of the area businesses, which would prefer that their well-heeled visitors don’t have to mingle with the scary locals — aside from those who serve them, of course.
This was reinforced by a quote reported in today’s The Garden Island:
Another mall employee, Trenton McClary, said crime is an issue, but is unsure if removing the structure will have an impact. He considered Pine Tree Inn an eyesore that blocked the view of the beach from the stores. The customers, he said, are “people spending $10,000 on a vacation and $1,000 for a helicopter ride.”
Which calls to mind an article I read recently about the widening wealth gap between whites and people of color. As AP reported:
The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data.
The analysis shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring. It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites [like so many of the tourists and retirees coming to Kauai] who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings.
It goes on to report this shocking figure, which I believe is also reflective of the disparities between many haoles and locals on this island:
The median wealth of white U.S. households in 2009 was $113,149, compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks, according to the analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
A report on Democracy Now! got into even more detail in an interview with Roderick Harrison of Howard University:
It really takes us back to a period where—characterized by the Kerner Commission as two societies, separate and unequal. This is a chasm that just is striking.
We’ve been seeing now for decades increases in inequalities in income. And this is—there are many factors in that, including the incredibly—the incredible increases in the ratio of the incomes of executives and managers to workers within firms. But also, some of it is driven by the growth of the very good incomes of families with two college-educated workers and the stagnation of wages amongst males and a very slow growth amongst females and very slow growth amongst people with less than a college education. So, these things have contributed to the gap. And one would expect that since you do need to make sufficient income to be able to have savings that you can invest, whether it’s in savings accounts or stocks, bonds, etc., one would expect the increase in income inequality to gradually produce increases in wealth inequality, as well. But clearly, the recession has, just in a few short years, thrown us into a truly different world. The black and Hispanic income levels, you mentioned, wiped out 20 years of gains; they’re back to where they were in 1993, approximately.
I think the prospects, at least for the next decade or two, are fairly grim.
It’s going to be very difficult [to reverse this trend.] I don’t see them—if they can recoup, if they can get back to the net worth levels that they were in 2005 within the next 10 years, I would be surprised.
As for what lies ahead:
People use net worth or draw on net worth to invest in their children’s education, to help with perhaps a first home, a down payment for a first home. We’re entering a period now where black and Hispanic families, one-third of whom have no net worth at all or negative net worth, won’t be able to help their children in this way. So this is going to definitely play into the next generation.
Which, in turn, ensures a steady supply of poor folks to serve the wealthy, fight the wars and fill up the privatized prisons.