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LETTERS for July 11 issue

By Staff | Jul 11, 2013

Support the launch of Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani

Voyaging canoes are meant to be sailed. Mo’okiha has been waiting for that day to arrive. At the Kamehameha Day Ho’olaule’a held at Kamehameha Iki Park in Lahaina, Hui o Wa’a Kaulua announced the launch of Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani on Dec. 21, 2013, during the Winter Solstice. This 62-foot, double-hulled voyaging canoe will serve as a living classroom for the youth of Hawaii and community of Maui.

For over 17 years, Mo’okiha has been sitting in her hale staring at the kai, awaiting the moment that she will finally touch the ocean. Although funding and labor have played a major role in the long process – and is still a challenge toward her completion – she is over 90 percent complete and just needs the last push to get her in the water.

This canoe has been touched by many people in the community, and it is now her turn to do what she was meant to do. Students on board the deep-sea voyaging canoe will have the chance to learn leadership values and cultural knowledge in a unique environment that is not bound by walls.

It is Hui o Wa’a Kaulua’s mission to conduct model educational programs to excite and challenge the youth and their communities to learn, respect and care for their natural and social environment. Through the importance of sustainability and respect for the environment stressed on the wa’a, Lahaina will only benefit from the people the canoe touches. Her presence is a symbol that honors the rich maritime history of these islands. Mo’okiha is for our community and youth.

We need generous supporters who understand the need for cultural awareness and education. Our needs to launch are under $50,000 and include items such as anchors, chain, line, sleeping canvas, lifejackets and more. It’s almost 90 percent complete, and this is the last push to the water.

Your kokua will enable us to continue our youth programs, begin sailing and sustain these ancient traditions. Volunteers are also needed for crew, daily work on the canoe and rigging, and kupuna that are interested in giving daily tours.

We are looking for volunteers and willing escort vessels to donate their time once a week for our training on the Mo’olele. Sails are expected to be weather- and tide-permitting, and should take place on Saturdays or Sundays.

We will launch from Kamehameha Iki Park with our crew and meet our escort boat outside Lahaina Harbor. Spaces may be open for committed volunteers to sail with the hui this summer. We are currently seeking 3-4 volunteers a day, five days a week, to help with launch preparations. Only through community support and donations will we be able to launch this canoe. Maui, this canoe belongs to you!

If you are interested in volunteering or donating your time and vessel to escort Mo’olele, please check us out on Facebook or www.HuiOWaa.org, e-mail HuioWaaKaulua@gmail or call (808) 205-5508.



Never halt the production of food

The U.S. Farm Bill currently being considered by the U.S. Congress is a multibillion dollar farm subsidy bill renewed every five years.

The bill first became law in 1933 as a means of preventing farmers from taking a loss on their annual production of crops – corn, wheat, cotton, rice and soybeans.

The government paid farmers the difference between what they sold and what it cost to produce. At the time, it was a brilliant means of “priming the pump,” so that farmers could be temporarily shielded from the effects of the Great Depression on their industry.

Today’s Farm Bill is a clear example of a government program being continued way beyond its original intention. Essentially, the government now pays farmers to underproduce crops in order to charge higher prices.

Adding to the controversy is that it gives two-thirds of the subsidy to the top 10 percent of farmers. As with most government programs, bureaucratic self-perpetuation has allowed for this subsidy to become corrupt.

Not surprisingly, the government has it backwards. Why not let the farmers produce as much crops as possible, sell what they can on the world market and give their surplus to the poor? Whatever they don’t sell, the government should buy it and distribute it among those in poverty.

In a world facing a food crisis never before seen in the history of humankind, we should never halt the production of food under any circumstances.



Prosperity for all

With the stock market breaking ever-higher records, Americans should be celebrating our economic resurgence, right?

After all, why else are we supposed to care when the Dow ticks up or down? Although half of us own no stocks at all, and the richest 10 percent of us own just about everything traded on the market, isn’t it a reasonable measure of our economic progress?

Well, no. Rising stock prices are getting a boost from expanding corporate profits. That may sound good, but one big factor behind those profits is that corporations are finding more and more ways to take more of the nation’s wealth and give less of it to the people who do the work. Their strategy is simple: employ fewer people and pay them less.

The result is that while corporate profits comprise the biggest share of national income since 1950, employee income constitutes the smallest share since 1966. It’s gotten worse since the Great Recession, with corporate profits rising 20 percent a year since 2008, but disposable income inching ahead 1.4 percent after inflation.

And that meager rise in personal income? It’s all going to the rich.

In addition to employing fewer workers, companies are paying the workers they must keep on board less. This is particularly true in industries where jobs can’t be shipped overseas or workers readily replaced by robots.

Most of the new jobs created in recent years are low-paying. They’re growing almost three times faster than mid- and high-paying jobs. In the four years since the recession officially ended, most job openings have been in retail, food prep, construction and home health care.

This trend is speeding up the hollowing out of the middle class. It’s a recipe for economic disaster.

While the economy you hear about on the nightly news may be measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the economy that matters in the long run is measured by whether enough Americans hold jobs with decent pay and benefits.

Working families and the middle class are the engines of the economy. When people have good jobs and affordable health care, and can shop in their neighborhoods, send their kids to college, and retire in security, that’s what drives the economy forward.

A low-work, low-wage economy, with most people struggling to meet the basics and a few people living in luxury, is also a threat to our democracy.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis observed more than a century ago: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” His words are just as true today.

For Brandeis’ generation, the popular movements that powered the New Deal paved the way for broadly shared prosperity. What will it take now?

The answer, as it was in the 1930s, is well-organized social movements. There are some early signs of these movements gaining traction. Some local campaigns are securing the right to paid sick days in cities and states – historically, this kind of precedent paves the way for national change.

This is the beginning of the movement that will define the 21st Century: the fight to demand an economy based on prosperity for all, grounded in work that is sustainable for families and the planet.