A Challenging Question

As some readers may know, not only do I write a weekly blog on issues, I typically also post shorter items on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. These posts are typically in response to articles I read and would like to publicly comment on them. 

On Friday, the 10th of July, I posted a comment, directed to the Governor, regarding the ending of the $600 bonus unemployment at the end of July. For those who don’t know, the Federal Government boosted unemployment payouts for those affected by the COVID-19 saga, by giving each filer an extra $600 a week on top of their approved unemployment amount. 

I posted the article on my Facebook account, and in my comments, said: 

Earth to Governor, Ige….you can wish that the Fed’s would continue to shell out cash for you to wait on opening the economy, but I don’t think all the wishing in the world is going to change Washington’s mind on UI.


What I was getting at with my comment is that the leadership of this state, now literally consisting of the Governor and the four mayors of each of the state’s counties, are currently huddling to try and figure out whether the state “reopens tourism”. Before this, the Governor kept on saying that “we are asking Washington to pass more financial relief to the states”. 

In short, they want more time to reopen, but it’s all dependent on how people will still get money when there are no jobs to be had, and income to be gotten. People are also facing possible eviction from their homes and homelessness, along with the removal of food security if there is no reopening of the tourism economy, but other provisions like a ban on eviction are still lifted on August 1. 

As s response to my post, a reader of my blog and Facebook page asked this very focused question of me: 

I’m curious to hear what PHwSF suggestions of how to fix things especially with an executive branch that has no solid plan in place and is very retaliatory. Keep up the great information. Look forward to hearing more.

See the question posted on the Politics Hawaii Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PoliticsHI/

First of all, thank you to the person posing the question.

Getting the upper hand on Virus
Why is this a debatable point in the United States during the COVID Saga?
PC: “Getting the upper hand on Virus” by FolsomNatural is licensed under CC BY 2.0

ONE ANSWER I HAVE to this question is that our state, and our nation for that matter, need to figure out what the numbers mean, and don’t mean when they are reported. Right now, we have a society that is so transfixed on a 12-noon report from the State of Hawaii Dept. of Health on how many new infections were discovered in the last 24 hours. 

But ask any random group of people “what does that number mean”, and you will get a variety of answers – anything from “people have gotten it and should be isolated”, to “everyone who gets it will die a horrible miserable lonely death in some anonymous-looking hospital room in short order.” 

Even our leadership -Governor Ige, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. Park among them – have been poor in trying to relay what the numbers mean. At that point, with a gambler’s mindset that seems to pervade Hawaii thinking, the higher the number, the worse it is. Full stop. 

For us to fix anything means that leadership needs to come forward and state clearly what the numbers mean and what we should be concentrating on. Personally, to me, the answer is that the infection rate is just that, an infection rate and that we should be focused on hospitalizations and death rates when it comes to making policy.

The Executive Chamber
The people who lead us from this room in Hawaii need to say, in a unified matter, that politics has no place in deciding how to move Hawaii forward. Unfortunately, politics have already seeped into every decision regarding COVID 19
PC “The Executive Chamber” by jimmywayne is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

AS A SECOND PART TO THE ANSWER, our society needs to stand up and tell everyone else that this issue is no longer about politics, and eschew any public official in making any comment that would allude to that.

I take for example the passive-aggressive tones that our Lieutenant Governor, Josh Green, makes with the Mayor of Honolulu. Kirk Caldwell, about Mayor Caldwell’s plans to bring business into Chinatown and Waikiki during this time. 

All things being equal, the criticisms by Green, and then the retort by Caldwell could be seen in the context of robust discussion and compromise. 

But the ugly head of “politics” rears up right away as both Green and Caldwell declared that they will run for Governor in 2022, replacing Governor Ige who is term-limited. 

So now, no matter what each party says, the filter of “politics” is automatically applied. That filter can change the perspective of how the people see those leaders, and even what they say. That view, already, has discounted any authority any leader has in expressing order and having people respect it. 

Being that Governor Ige is a supporter of Mayor Caldwell’s gubernatorial campaign and that Lt. Governor Josh Green is seen as the more trusted outsider, political perspective comes more into play in a lot of people’s minds, obscuring the messaging of these leaders. 

And if you listen to the leaders – Governor Ige and the Mayors – putting politics to the side, sometimes they do say things that make sense. 

But we won’t fix any of this unless the people who are being led by these leaders demand that all parties start acting like leaders, and not politicians. That means becoming united in defining what the numbers mean, and making a unified statement that politics has nothing to do with the decisions being made. 

It might not be the fix that everyone wants, as we live in a world, as Joe Friday put it on the Dragnet episode “The Big Departure”, 

Jack Webb as Joe Friday on Dragnet. PC Image by Divine Harvester is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 I don’t know, maybe part of it’s the fact that you’re in a hurry. You’ve grown up on instant orange juice. Flip a dial – instant entertainment. Dial seven digits – instant communication. Turn a key – push a pedal – instant transportation. Flash a card – instant money. Shove in a problem – push a few buttons – instant answers. But some problems you can’t get quick answers for, no matter how much you want them.

Listen to the whole speech here on Youtube.

But for me at least, this is a start. 

Thanks again for the challenging question.