Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Warm Weather Does Not Make a Paradise

If that were true, most of the banana republics in the world would not be located in the tropics with their famously unjust and corrupt governments -- conducted in the oppressive heat and humidity that saps the people’s energies from ever thinking they could make society different. There seems to be some value in at least minimally having to plan to accommodate the challenges of changing climatic and environmental shifts that cause societies to optimize their resources -- instead of taking them for granted, knowing if they simply wait long enough, things will revert back to their “comfort zone.” That complacency may work at first but when populations grow too large and concentrated, those problems can no longer be ignored and tolerated, having gone past the point of no return, and natural self-correction.

At that point, societies have to draw upon the resourcefulness of all their members to solve the critical challenge to their continued viability -- as a culture, to move on to the next level of progress and evolution, or be cast aside like the many others that had its heyday for a short time before the party was over, because it could not rise to any great challenges of its time -- which obviously at this time, is a society that can manage, conserve and share its resources optimally among all its members -- or risk creating a clique of haves and a larger group of have-nots, which is the telltale ending of every once prosperous civilization.

As one reads the concerns of the Honolulu dailies, these battles over still plentiful resources are already beginning to escalate into open warfare -- in which one class of citizens are demanding exclusive use of the sidewalks, parks, schools, revenues, lands, and government itself -- for themselves, for their exclusive enrichment and prosperity as their entitlement, while everybody else has to fend for themselves.

That group of self-selected favorites grows smaller and smaller daily -- while the group expected to support those few in the comfort and luxury they feel they alone are accustomed and entitled to, become ever-increasingly larger, and disenfranchised. At one time, many of these people thought they were inextricably part of that “in”-group, before realizing they were just being played along as pawns for those singular persons riding on top, which is the traditional rule, government and society they were hoping to restore to glory -- with themselves at the top.

Whether we call them royalty, “liberals,” or democrats, doesn’t make much difference because the motivation is the same -- to establish themselves as the elites in any society, with permanent privileges over everybody else in society, because they are so much smarter and deserving than all the others.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Northwest Journal

I’m quite happy having minimal stuff -- and just sitting on the carpet leaning back on my inflatable bed against the wall, typing my thoughts. In time, I get what I think is essential to my optimal functioning. Yesterday, that was the fairly easy decision to get a new bike -- rather than mess with the dysfunctional old bike, that basically is an accident waiting to happen, in that the brakes don’t work well. A lot of people fall for this kind of false economy -- to “save” $50-100 while opening themselves up for a major calamity.

I’ve been looking at these Walmart Next bikes for sometime -- curious if it works since they seem so outrageously priced, for all the latest features they have, that cost at least ten times as much elsewhere. I paid $73.86, for a bike that would cost $738.60 in a bike shop. And then I bought a helmet for $7.14, and a lock for $5.46, both of which would have cost me ten times as much purchased in a bike shop. And I did check out three bike shops before deciding to go Walmart.

And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing that the expensive bikes can do a whole lot better than this entry level model. Even a comparable bike at Fred Meyer would have cost twice as much -- but there was nothing under $120 worth considering. Walmart had a $60 bike that I would not consider worth buying -- but for $14 more, I have a bike that is all a bike needs to be.

My old bike was better, undoubtedly, as a permanent possession -- but as a “disposal” bike, this is all it has to be for one year or more. That’s the lifetime I expect from any purchase anymore. If it lasts a year of excellent performance, I don’t care if it isn’t forever, because I’ll probably want the “new and improved,” state of the art -- especially at the low end.

I called Pat and told him of my exploits in Salem so far, and he had never ridden the bus and was impressed that I had ventured all the way out to Walmart and got a bike that I rode home on. He was impressed that the bus day-pass was $2. Then when he heard that I had abandoned the notion of resurrecting the abandoned ($60 Walmart) bike and bought the $74 model that I fully approved of, he was again impressed with my decision-making.

Like I told Isaac, I’ve bought over 20 bikes in my lifetime and enjoy going back into the market to see what is available now -- especially at the basic entry-level. It’s like buying the low-end basic, entry-level computer now and finding it fully-loaded with all the features that would have cost a premium five years ago -- standard.

I always knew that bike technology was really quite the bargain and still the state of the art in human efficiency -- so for me to look at this $74 purchase and see everything it has, makes me marvel that they can be selling anything like this so cheap, anywhere in the world. It’d just be a tankful of gas for everybody else.

Yesterday was also my first interaction with the community for any extensive purposes and I was very impressed with how helpful everybody was. Every customer is cheerfully welcomed and assisted as much as they want to be. The people seem to be wholesome and healthy -- without the presence of a hard-core perennial and resentful underclass.

One notices that absence -- coming from Hawaii so recently. Hawaii is becoming a very class conscious and stratified society -- between the haves and the have nots, as a permanent condition of its society, which is not a healthy and promising portent for the future. The Democrats have become the dominant and ruling class -- like Saddam’s Baathist party. You don’t find that in Salem -- that those have a right to more privileges by virtue of being in the majority with the power to impose their will and injustice on everybody else.

I don’t know what else one can do but leave such a society -- for the freedom elsewhere. Hawaii is a very controlled society -- by the old powers that were and hope to always remain so. Whereas here, one gets the sense that society is constrructed for the least able and privileged, to enjoy the richness of society as much as anybody else. The roads here are good -- without all those potholes, craters, and perennial construction -- and all the sidewalks have those ramps that bikes can travel safely on away from the traffic.

Things are done right -- without all the rationalizations and explanations for why they aren’t.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Unchanging Hawaii (Creating Jobs -- To Do What?)

The most vexing thing of life in Hawaii is that everybody wants “change,” but for everything to stay the same. It is as though they think they can have their cake and eat it too. Yes, they want change, but only if everything stays the same.

And so we may hire more people at higher wages to get the same results -- because it is thought that the whole objective is just to create more high-paying jobs, without doing anything different, or better, or at all. If the money is there (through taxes), it is just considered free money -- that needs to be spent, whether there is a good reason for doing so or not. All that matters is that somebody is “paid” for a “job” rather than for “welfare,” which is no longer permitted.

In the private sector, jobs have to be justified by producing a profit or at least a benefit -- rather than just because it can be created by government fiat, just to show one can. The more arbitrary the exercise of power, the more powerful one is -- and that is the trapping of high office, to show who is The Boss -- as though that was some high achievement and permanent status in life.

Much of the public dialogue is of this caliber and level; the salient points don’t matter. The only thing that matters in the end, is who is the boss, and who can prove it by the most outrageous and arbitrary flaunting of that power. It is impressive to some people, but most of the smart ones just refuse to participate and “buy into” such schemes anymore, choosing to spend their time on the Internet searching for intelligent life anywhere else in the universe.

That’s how life has changed over the last ten years -- even with most people not consciously aware that change was happening. If they were conscious, they would have resisted -- rather than allow such changes to transform their lives. Of course, everyone is not at the front end discovering the new, and it would not make any difference even if they did because they would have no need to avail themselves of such possibilities and opportunities.

While down at the public library obtaining a list of Wi-Fi hotspots, the informant suggested I might try the Capitol Building close by, as they had unconfirmed rumors that such a service was available -- which seemed to be incredulous to me that it was not more widely known, because that is precisely the crowd one would want to attract there and get involved in the deliberations.

One solitary individual was sitting in the cheap seats on the lower level happy to be doing his business (he seemed to be marginally employed and sheltered) but I had a more urgent need to use the bathroom upstairs and refresh myself with a drink of chilled water, and was told by office staff there was no reason I couldn’t sit there all day and into the evening accessing the Web.

This is probably the future and hope of democracy/society in Hawaii. Access to information, changes everything, is the great equalizer, tapping the collective intelligence of a community -- rather than controlling, manipulating and suppressing it.

While the “transportation” solution gets all the press, the revolution has already passed quietly, unnoticed, without any fanfare. It is that information, that makes one free.