Wednesday, April 18, 2012

All The Brains Leaving Hawaii

Anybody who has been following the rise of Civil Beat in Hawaii may be aware that most of its original staff have already departed for better futures on the Mainland. That should tell us more than any article they ever wrote -- that sometimes one has to pull the plug on what isn't working, personally, if not organizationally, and institutionally. That may mean, as Ayn Rand's heroes did in Atlas Shrugged, of just waking up one day and walking away -- from the battles they fought so hard and valiantly at, for that cause they really believed in and drove them all their lives. Then one day, without much fanfare or explanation, they simply go on with their lives somewhere else, were the difference is like night and day.

It is no secret that the cost of living in Hawaii, is very high -- but not just by 40% more, but by four times more! -- if one uses the benchmark of housing costs, that is most people's largest and fundamental expense. That is to say, that an apartment that one could rent somewhere in the United States, will cost one four times as much in Hawaii -- if one could even find a comparable equal.

But in many cases, one simply can find a cinderblock/Quonset hut, weed-strewn yard for half a million dollars anywhere -- but in Hawaii, because the speculation and distortion has gone too far. The original speculative excesses, were the proverbial swampland one could buy in Florida -- over a hundred years ago. But around then, people started moving to California for those lands that seemed too good to be true -- but actually were true to a great extent. And that's how California became the land of dreams -- until supplanted fifty years later, by Hawaii, and the dream of Paradise.

But now California is also double the cost of living elsewhere -- and the great frontiers, have moved inland, where people have been outmigrating for the last fifty years -- so that famously, the great Midwest, is there for the taking -- for those who want a better, more affordable life. Those have always been the conditions that produced the great migrations -- from the homelands that people had come to believe they could never leave -- but those who did, mostly found a better life -- than the hopeless (homeless) one they could only foresee.

Fortunately we now live in an age where the specifics of where we actually do live, are less important -- because of heating, air-conditioning, and communications (the Internet), make life pretty nearly everywhere, uniform -- so all we need to know about a community, is that they have a Costco, WalMart, Home Depot, etc., to know that we can live life at the universal standard. And if the price of electricity costs five times as much as it does in Hawaii, then it might actually be cheaper to pay for heating and/or air-conditioning -- than living in a tropical climate of slight variation -- but always being just a little too warm and humid than is optimal, and what one pays for in heating/air-conditioning an environment not exactly to one's tastes. but the fact that a lot of people live there, is an indication, that such a community, falls within a tolerable range of human adaptation -- which would mean as little as the inconvenience of putting on a jacket for at least part of the day. One simply has to expand the range of their adaptations.

Those are3 the considerations one has to make in whether to continue a life homeless, on the beach, or move from Hawaii, and actually be able to live on their Social Security (disability) checks -- as is possible in many communities with a much lower cost of living. Of course, that is not likely to be San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Monaco, etc., but probably many places that the "rich and famous" don't want to be -- which is not all that bad. But one has to value those places individually, because nobody is hiring a lot of marketers, bloggers and freelance writers to entice one to move there -- and buy into the already greatly inflated housing markets, that have long become prohibitive to the native populations.

The best they can hope for is to inherit those properties -- which is also a cause of great friction among family members all with the same idea/financial plan. That is the underlying tension in Hawaii -- while the current "greatest generation," lives to unprecedented longevity, so that the inheriting generation is already too old, and may in many cases, be actually outlived -- because theirs is a more stressful life -- of waiting for that better day, and not making it happen for themselves.

That kind of life, is "Waiting for Godot" -- or waiting for some other, or event, to change their lives and make it all meaningful once again. But in the meantime, they just waiting and bide their time, because that is what they are told to do -- and that is Paradise, and the only life they can ever know.

But inevitably and invariably, a few people leave and get to the other side -- where they realize that life is not so terrible since leaving "Paradise." That is the legendary story of the human condition -- and how it begins anew.


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