Hawaiians must resist politics of dependency
HAVING lived in Venezuela for 10 years, I experienced firsthand the economic and social crises that led to the dictatorship that now exists there.
President Hugo Chavez and his government successfully divided Venezuelans, stirring sentiments of hatred between his supporters and the opposition. Promises of benefits were made to Venezuelans that parallel those proposed in the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (Akaka Bill): medical benefits, education, employment, social services, agrarian reform, the right to self-determination and self-governance. These benefits were to be funded by proceeds from the petroleum industry in Venezuela and by state taxes and federal pork in Hawaii.
Organized marchers in red T-shirts were a sight all too familiar in Venezuela as paid supporters of the government made public appearances at a moment's notice, and the following week formed queues at banks to cash their paychecks. The intent was not to enrich the poor but to create a dependent majority to back the socialist government, thereby sustaining the momentum of its power to change the economy from private ownership to state control of resources, capital and labor.
In the meantime the poor are still poor, although they now receive enough support from the government to keep them loyal and compliant. There is no end in sight to this one-party system supported by petroleum and a poor majority. The movement is sweeping Latin America.
I RETURNED to Hawaii three years ago, and have observed the same pattern unfolding. Here also, the hidden tactic of the state is not to better the condition of a select class, the native Hawaiians, but to make that class dependent on the government. Because Hawaiians are seen as the "swing" vote, they must be kept dependent or the (socialist) government (with its Republican governor and Democratic Legislature) stands to lose in the future elections.
Creating and perpetuating dependency on government as the path to getting and keeping political power is addictive. For the rulers of Hawaii, both executive and legislative, keeping Hawaiians in a state of dependency, like any addiction, has become the thing that makes their lives worth living. How else to explain the state political establishment's almost unanimous support for the Akaka Bill? The Akaka Bill would put native Hawaiians into the same legal status as the most dependent group of people in the nation.
IT GRIEVES me to have seen it before, lived through it, lost all material wealth and a great portion of my life work because of a dictator kept in office by a culture of dependency, then to come home to start anew in mid-life and see the same bad seed bearing fruit here. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, hoarding about $350 million in trust for Hawaiians (the small, and always shrinking, number of persons of not less than one-half part of the blood) now seeks to vastly expand the subjects under its dominion to include the more than 400,000 and constantly growing number of persons with even a drop of Hawaiian ancestry.
There is no need to look further than the marriage between the Bishop Estate and the state of Hawaii to recognize the ramifications if the Akaka Bill comes to pass and a nation within a nation materializes. Consider this: Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a member of the class that exercised absolute rule until 1819, and from then until 1893 as a monarchy; a one-party system. Her wealth descended, in the purest sense, from the enslavement of others. The trust survives today thanks to the institution of private property as we know it.
The Apology Resolution signed by President Clinton states that at the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778 the land was held in communal tenure and therefore, private property was nonexistent. As proposed by the Akaka Bill, the ceded lands and Hawaiian Home Lands are to be held in common for the benefit of native Hawaiians. Shouldn't then the land of the Bishop Estate be converted to the classification, by definition of the Apology Resolution, as communal tenure held in trust for Hawaiians? What of the other trusts of chiefly estates?
Many persons of Hawaiian ancestry have had their hands in the cookie jar as trustees, administrators and elected officials; such as OHA, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Bishop Estate, executors and legislators for decades. If among the lot of them they have yet to do the right thing by Hawaiians, such as give title to Hawaiian homesteaders for their own prosperity, why should they be trusted now to govern? The DHHL alone is responsible for keeping Hawaiians at a disadvantage by denying them the right to own their land.
ELECTED OFFICIALS, both Democratic and Republican, who support the Akaka Bill show their fear of public opinion by denying the citizens of Hawaii the right to vote because, in all probability, the democratic method will work in favor of the opponents. No elected official is entitled to a government job; that is why we vote.
The Akaka Bill is written to create a dependent class of an unprecedented multitude, to politically and racially divide us, steal our freedom by not recognizing private property and subject the people of Hawaii to socialized living in perpetuity. It is not a just settlement but the beginning of a great conflict.
Kaleihanamau Johnson traveled by sailboat through most of Polynesia with her parents, Rockne H. Johnson, a geophysicist, and Rubellite K. Johnson, professor emerita of Hawaiian literature. She is working on her bachelor's degree in history.