Sunday, March 25, 2007

District 21 Newsletter (Waikiki-Kapahulu)

Changing Hawaii

For this month’s meeting (4th Wednesday), we’re getting together to serve dinner at the Kakaako homeless shelter -- established by the Administration a year ago as a definitive response to the ban on homesteading in Ala Moana Beach Park. That “first step” has gone a long way to reversing the trend of increasing homesteading on prime beachfront property -- in the absence of establishing guidelines that are necessary even for the most disciplined citizens of any community to adhere to.

That seems to be a very positive trend in society after many years of moral drift -- in which many harmful people regarded it as a green light to do anything they could get away with, with the approval of the self-proclaimed well-meaning, who usually did not have to bear any of the consequences for their “liberal” good intentions. But that did not mean nobody would have to experience those consequences -- and that nobody could ever be held accountable. “Stuff just happened,” and there was this overwhelming sense that we had to let it.

That was a very frightening trend for the world -- that required the firm responses of President Bush on the international scene and Governor Lingle on the national/local scene to reverse -- and for which, many already take for granted, that the world was always so orderly, prosperous and rational.

Many have already forgotten that Hawaii was still in the grip of a decade(s) long recession -- that was reversed only by America emerging once again as the firm hand of leadership in the world that was adrift, with no moral compass that allowed that there could be definitive “right and “wrong” -- to the point of hopelessness that anything positive could happen anymore, and terrorists could operate without fear of catastrophic consequences. Those positive developments don’t just happen because of wishful-thinking. It doesn't come free either, as the demagogic would lead us to believe..

The world is a very different place since 9/11/01 -- immeasurably and unimaginably better than it was that day when all travel and hopeful activity stopped -- despite the demagogic contention that “things are no better” now -- when they so obviously are, no matter how partisan one is. Not to admit that reality -- undermines their own credibility, especially among the independent of thought.

It was not a vision often depicted in the mainstream (mass) media and so a lot of us decided we had to create our own media and means to get our vision of the world out there -- because the old media did not serve everybody’s perspective -- but sought to impose their own -- using the entrenched political majority to enforce that status quo, with themselves at the top. Meanwhile, the great impulse begun in the last years of the previous century, reached a greater fruition in the new century -- of opening up and leveling the playing field for greater participation, especially in the dialogue and discussion.

Such “democratization” is not justification that the majority is always right -- or even mostly right; the value of democracy is that it may allow the best not to be suppressed and ruthlessly eliminated. It does not guarantee that the status quo is always right.

That is the most misunderstood concept about a democracy -- that it guarantees the best government. It merely guarantees that the best may be heard without persecution. That’s what one should look for when observing the legislative proceedings or any forum of self-governance. The best part of a democratic republic, is the right to govern oneself foremost -- and not as the least consideration. A lot of problems are solved just by having this perspective -- that people will solve their problems because that is their whole purpose for being -- rather than that they have to be told what to do by powers who would like be their masters. A lot of these people, ironically, call themselves “Democrats,”” liberals,” and “progressives” -- which they think gives them the right to be autocratic and domineering.

Many are quite understandably turned off by the political process because of this unfairness and futility -- which some are making inroads to correcting in the traditional manner. What is often unrealized, is that their is more to (self-)government than just the formal institutions of government. By far, the largest part of it, is voluntary participation -- not just in political activities, but in all the ways people come together to define that society.

As Republicans, voluntarism is a particularly important and essential element to our vision for a more perfect society -- of people wanting to make it so, rather than people having to do so -- under threat of law and coercion. The government that governs best, is that which governs least.- -- and not what governs every aspect of our lives so that there is no freedom anymore. -- Mike Hu, District 21

The Party needs volunteers to serve dinner at the Shelter next Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 pm. (5:30 for early set-up). Anne Stevens suggested we participate in the shelter dinner as our monthly meeting, which is a great idea. So let's do it! This is an opportunity to do something for the neediest in our community. And the shelter is in our district.

The Kaka'ako Shelter is located at Pier 1, makai of Ala Moana Blvd. Turn at Forrest (Comp USA), proceed along the chain link fence (ewa of the medical school) to the warehouse where the shelter is located. Parking is available.

Let's all turn out to support this Party event and do something for our community at the same time. I hope to see all of you there at 6PM next Wednesday. Call me if you have questions.

Bob Kessler
Chair, HD 23
Ph. 922-6188
Or: Contact Eliza Talbot 593-8180 at Republican Party Headquarters.


At March 25, 2007 10:42 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Anger Is All The Rage

By George F. Will
Sunday, March 25, 2007; Page B07

During the divisive War of 1812, a livid woman famous for her long hair rode to the White House, stood in her carriage, let down her tresses and proclaimed that she would gladly be shorn of them if they would be used to hang President James Madison. That anecdote, from Catherine Allgor's biography of Dolley Madison, shows that today's theatrical anger is not without precedent. But now there is a new style in anger -- fury as a fashion accessory, indignation as evidence of good character.

Under the headline "San Franciscans Hurl Their Rage at Parking Patrol," the New York Times recently described the verbal abuse and physical violence -- there were 28 attacks in 2006 -- inflicted on parking enforcement officers in a city that has a surplus of liberalism and a shortage of parking places. Parking is so difficult that George Anderson, a mental health expert, has stopped holding lectures there because his audiences arrive seething about their parking frustrations. Anderson represents the American Association of Anger Management Providers.

Of course. San Francisco, a showcase for expressive individualism, is full of people bristling with rights and eager to rebel against oppressive authority, but having a hard time finding any. The only rules concern parking.

No wonder Americans are infatuated with anger: It is democratic. Anyone can express it, and it is one of the seven deadly sins, which means it is a universal susceptibility. So in this age that is proud of having achieved "the repeal of reticence," anger exhibitionism is pandemic.

There are the tantrums -- sometimes both theatrical and perfunctory -- of talking heads on television or commentators writing in vitriol (Paul Krugman's incessant contempt, Ann Coulter's equally constant loathing). There is road rage (and parking lot rage when the Whole Foods Market parking lot is congested with expressive individualists driving Volvos and Priuses). The blogosphere often is, as one blogger joyfully says, "an electronic primal scream." And everywhere there is the histrionic fury of ordinary people venting in everyday conversations.

Many people who loathe George W. Bush have adopted what Peter Wood describes as "ecstatic anger as a mode of political action." Anger often is, Wood says, "a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted."

Wood, an anthropologist and author of "A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now," says the new anger "often has the look-at-me character of performance art." His book is a convincing, hence depressing, explanation of "anger chic" -- of why anger has become an all-purpose emotional stance. It has achieved prestige and become "a credential for group membership." As a result, "Americans have been flattening their emotional range into an angry monotone."

Wood notes that there is a "vagueness and elasticity of the grievances" that supposedly justify today's almost exuberant anger. And anger is more pervasive than merely political grievances would explain. Today's anger is a coping device for everyday life. It also is the defining attribute of an increasingly common personality type: the person who "unless he is angry, feels he is nothing at all."

That type, infatuated with anger, uses it to express identity. Anger as an expression of selfhood is its own vindication. Wood argues, however, that as anger becomes a gas polluting the social atmosphere, it becomes not a sign of personal uniqueness but of a herd impulse.

Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. America's fictional heroes could be angry, but theirs was a reluctant anger -- Alan Ladd as the gunfighter in "Shane," Gary Cooper as the marshal in "High Noon." Today, however, proclaimed anger -- the more vituperative the better -- is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality.

Perhaps this should not be surprising, now that Americans are inclined to elect presidents who advertise their emotions -- "I feel your pain." As the late Mary McGrory wrote, Bill Clinton "is a child of his age; he believes more in the thrust-out lower lip than the stiff upper one."

The politics of disdain -- e.g., Howard Dean's judgment that Republicans are "brain dead" and "a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives" -- derails politics by defining opponents as beyond the reach of reason. The anger directed at Bush today, like that directed at Clinton during his presidency, luxuriates in its own vehemence.

Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity: I snarl, therefore I am. Such people make one's blood boil.

At March 25, 2007 10:44 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Now for the Good News

Mankind has never been healthier, wealthier or freer. Surprised?

Indur M. Goklany | March 23, 2007

Environmentalists and globalization foes are united in their fear that greater population and consumption of energy, materials, and chemicals accompanying economic growth, technological change and free trade—the mainstays of globalization—degrade human and environmental well-being.

Indeed, the 20th century saw the United States’ population multiply by four, income by seven, carbon dioxide emissions by nine, use of materials by 27, and use of chemicals by more than 100.

Yet life expectancy increased from 47 years to 77 years. Onset of major disease such as cancer, heart, and respiratory disease has been postponed between eight and eleven years in the past century. Heart disease and cancer rates have been in rapid decline over the last two decades, and total cancer deaths have actually declined the last two years, despite increases in population. Among the very young, infant mortality has declined from 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1913 to just seven per 1,000 today.

These improvements haven’t been restricted to the United States. It’s a global phenomenon. Worldwide, life expectancy has more than doubled, from 31 years in 1900 to 67 years today. India’s and China’s infant mortalities exceeded 190 per 1,000 births in the early 1950s; today they are 62 and 26, respectively. In the developing world, the proportion of the population suffering from chronic hunger declined from 37 percent to 17 percent between 1970 and 2001 despite a 83 percent increase in population. Globally average annual incomes in real dollars have tripled since 1950. Consequently, the proportion of the planet's developing-world population living in absolute poverty has halved since 1981, from 40 percent to 20 percent. Child labor in low income countries declined from 30 percent to 18 percent between 1960 and 2003.

Equally important, the world is more literate and better educated than ever. People are freer politically, economically, and socially to pursue their well-being as they see fit. More people choose their own rulers, and have freedom of expression. They are more likely to live under rule of law, and less likely to be arbitrarily deprived of life, limb, and property.

Social and professional mobility have also never been greater. It’s easier than ever for people across the world to transcend the bonds of caste, place, gender, and other accidents of birth. People today work fewer hours and have more money and better health to enjoy their leisure time than their ancestors.

Man’s environmental record is more complex. The early stages of development can indeed cause some environmental deterioration as societies pursue first-order problems affecting human well-being. These include hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, and lack of education, basic public health services, safe water, sanitation, mobility, and ready sources of energy.

Because greater wealth alleviates these problems while providing basic creature comforts, individuals and societies initially focus on economic development, often neglecting other aspects of environmental quality. In time, however, they recognize that environmental deterioration reduces their quality of life. Accordingly, they put more of their recently acquired wealth and human capital into developing and implementing cleaner technologies. This brings about an environmental transition via the twin forces of economic development and technological progress, which begin to provide solutions to environmental problems instead of creating those problems.

All of which is why we today find that the richest countries are also the cleanest. And while many developing countries have yet to get past the “green ceiling,” they are nevertheless ahead of where today’s developed countries used to be when they were equally wealthy. The point of transition from "industrial period" to "environmental conscious" continues to fall. For example, the US introduced unleaded gasoline only after its GDP per capita exceeded $16,000. India and China did the same before they reached $3,000 per capita.

This progress is a testament to the power of globalization and the transfer of ideas and knowledge (that lead is harmful, for example). It's also testament to the importance of trade in transferring technology from developed to developing countries—in this case, the technology needed to remove lead from gasoline.

This hints at the answer to the question of why some parts of the world have been left behind while the rest of the world has thrived. Why have improvements in well-being stalled in areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world?

The proximate cause of improvements in well-being is a “cycle of progress” composed of the mutually reinforcing forces of economic development and technological progress. But that cycle itself is propelled by a web of essential institutions, particularly property rights, free markets, and rule of law. Other important institutions would include science- and technology-based problem-solving founded on skepticism and experimentation; receptiveness to new technologies and ideas; and freer trade in goods, services—most importantly in knowledge and ideas.

In short, free and open societies prosper. Isolation, intolerance, and hostility to the free exchange of knowledge, technology, people, and goods breed stagnation or regression.

Despite all of this progress and good news, then, there is still much unfinished business. Millions of people die from hunger, malnutrition, and preventable disease such as malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Over a billion people still live in absolute poverty, defined as less than a dollar per day. A third of the world’s eligible population is still not enrolled in secondary school. Barriers to globalization, economic development, and technological change—such as the use of DDT to eradicate malaria, genetic engineering, and biotechnology—are a big source of the problem.

Moreover, the global population will grow 50 percent to 100 percent this century, and per capita consumption of energy and materials will likely increase with wealth. Merely preserving the status quo is not enough. We need to protect the important sustaining institutions responsible for all of this progress in the developed world, and we need to foster and nurture them in countries that are still developing.

Man’s remarkable progress over the last 100 years is unprecedented in human history. It’s also one of the more neglected big-picture stories. Ensuring that our incredible progress continues will require not only recognizing and appreciating the progress itself, but also recognizing and preserving the important ideas and institutions that caused it, and ensuring that they endure.

Indur M. Goklany is the author of The Improving State of the World: Why We're Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet (Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 2007)

At March 25, 2007 10:38 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

All the demagogues and dysfunctionals have learned that if they bash President Bush and Republicans, the mass media will give them all the time and attention they want.

But if one actually solves any problem, the mainstream media suppresses it -- otherwise they'll have nothing to write about because the only thing they've been conditioned, trained and educated to see, are "problems" -- and never solutions.

When one has an answer, they rightfully stop looking -- until they actually need to find another solution. The mass media requires people to look compulsively for answers whether they really have a need to -- and so they conveniently create problems, controversies, scandals, misunderstandings.

While the advertising is largely manipulative and misleading, the articles are merely innocuous and vapid -- forcing the reader to look at the ads rather than the boring articles.

It's really quite sad to see how far the mainstream media has fallen. There shouldn't be any fear over what happens if they disappear; something always fills the vacuum -- usually with something much better.

That's true of a lot of the institutions that have outlived their usefulness -- the media, schools, universities, libraries, mom and pop stores. Something better comes along.

The old buildings need to be torn down rather than preserved as relics of a more inefficient time -- usually at preposterous costs. They didn't work so well in their prime; they build much better buildings now -- or at least could, if people didn't insist on the traditional solutions of housing and shelter.

Tents are not primitive -- but are actually more state of the art than a lot of those medieval school buildings. The military has refined them to a high standard of functionality -- and everybody should be sleeping on air mattresses.

The status quo largely perpetuates all the problems. That is their function and reason for being.


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