Friday, September 24, 2021
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Grief as deep as you Love

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Grief is a complex human emotion. It can produce love, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, regret—well you get what I am saying.

Humans seem never prepared and not in the least taught how to cope and resolve grief. Like anger, another confusing human emotion, there are few common sense coping strategies or tactics to deal with the cascade of emotion.

Grief is as ignored as peace-making—we devalue and sabotage peace-making in our lives.

Grief, Anger, Jealousy act on humans like a water/mudslide. It seems we can only guess at the onset, where it will go, or how to cope with the sheer force of these emotions. Mostly, we lash out and hurt others in our expression of a fundamental human emotion.

If I take the meta-view, to look at my life as an observer would, at the thousands of cascading emotional episodes, contemplating the trauma creating the triggers, in the light of the deaths of so many friends, it is clear, what we take for real is not permanent.

From the perspective of our own death, and the wisdom of our meta-view, our existence is unreal, just as our solid material world is not real, at least in the light of timelessness and eternity.

Rainbow bridge over Hawaii

A wonderful poet, Hafiz once spake so, “To take for real that which is ephemeral, is like the ravings of a madman.”

Yet as I watch those I’ve walked beside, friends, colleagues, citizens, frenemies, who have been around me, pass across the rainbow bridge, I see it as a promise and a warning to be in alignment with your highest purpose, or be in fear and regret.

Choices are our greatest power

The warning: Those who seek to “rule” their worlds are distracting you from creating your world through your choices, narrowing your sense-of-power to better manipulate you by their words and decisions.

The promise: When what you think, say and do are in alignment, there you will find happiness. Happiness and a collaborative co-creative world that benefits the many not the few is a choice. Choose carefully, think focused, visualize the thought forms of what you prefer, and then act to choose it in the material world.

Align>Ask>Accept>Act>Receive is the promise

It’s not the journey that crowns you but the end.

As day turns to night, like flowers, we are here, then gone, so are also our lives in the broad span of time. We are soon forgotten, even if we are famous.

So, make the most of your one wild and crazy life.

Robert Kinslow is a coach, consultant, change agent and sustainability expert. Connect with him here or LinkedIn

Shoring Up Water Transportation

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On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued the “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.”  There wasn’t much media coverage of it outside of the business press, because the order is lengthy and, rather than announcing new law, for the most part focuses on telling his agencies to enforce the laws that are already on the books relating to specific industries.

One of the industries targeted by this order is maritime shipping.  In 2000, the largest 10 shipping companies controlled 12% of the market.  Since then, the shipping companies have gone on a merger and acquisition frenzy.  Today, the largest 10 shipping companies have an 82% market share

The Executive Order focuses on one problem in the industry, “detention and demurrage” charges.  Shipping companies impose these charges when goods land at the port but for whatever reason the goods can’t be offloaded right away.  These fees can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, leading to complaints by shippers and truckers and, naturally, higher consumer prices for the goods that were transported.

To combat this problem, the Executive Order directs the Federal Maritime Commission to “vigorously enforce the prohibition of unjust and unreasonable practices in the context of detention and demurrage pursuant to” existing shipping laws.  That’s all.  It might be helpful for us here in Hawaii, but we can’t help wondering if they are missing the forest for the trees here.

Here in Hawaii, we are heavily dependent on water transportation to bring us all manner of consumer goods, building supplies, and everything else that we can’t manufacture.  Thus, we are all too familiar with what happens when goods or people need to be transported over the high seas but there isn’t a lot of competition among shipping firms.  There has been an ongoing debate about the need for section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, as well as its older cousin the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886.  These are laws whose primary purpose is to restrict competition.  It’s a wonder that neither law is mentioned even once in the Executive Order.

It’s also a wonder that the State of Hawaii, rather than trying to make it easier and cheaper to ship people and cargo, imposes General Excise Tax on shipping charges.  In an earlier article in this space, we pointed out that the federal government prohibited state taxation of transportation by air.  We, of course, were in denial and tried to tax air transportation anyway using a somewhat creative theory, leading to a major smackdown by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983.  We have since accepted the fact that we can’t tax air transportation.  But we can and do tax other transportation.  Why do we do that?  Because we can, perhaps; because we can get some money by doing it, perhaps.  We question whether that is sound social policy given how heavily we depend on transportation.

Are we serious about trying to make sure that the cost of living for all of us in the Aloha State isn’t outrageously expensive?  If so, then we should be vigorously encouraging our Congressional delegation to give us relief from the 80-year-old and 135-year-old cabotage laws, finding ways to restore competition among transportation companies, and getting our State tax laws out of the industry to help bring down our stratospheric cost of living.

“Have Bag – Will Travel: Adventures in International Living, Self-Discovery, and a Life of Meaning”

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Book Release: Have Bag - Will Travel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
SUMMER 2021 

Contact: 
James Cameron Mielke 
jim_mielke@hotmail.com 

NEW BOOK SHARES INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF OVERCOMING HEALTH OBSTACLES AND FINDING NEW LIFE THROUGH ADVENTURE, WORLD SERVICE, AND INTERNATIONAL LIVING. 

Have Bag – Will Travel” is a compelling memoir detailing international living, self-discovery, and adventure, and is available for immediate release on Amazon’s e-book marketplace. A coming-of-age story, young James spends his days ill at ease with American life and is at the mercy of an at-times grueling digestive disorder. At the age of 19, James received an ileostomy, and life after recovery felt as thrilling as being shot from a cannon.

This exhilarating tale presents vivid descriptions of exotic far-off lands, unique and meaningful international work experiences, the growth of goals and aspirations, and a rare mix of people along the way. Packed with pithy narratives of overseas adventures, the thrills, humor, and heartaches, some romance, and stunningly beautiful natural scenes – these stories give some glimpses into an evolving insight of a young man moving through the seasons of his life.

Many young people are eager for an overseas experience, and are searching for direction, but for various reasons, never get there. In a world of increasing global interdependence, the lasting benefits of international travel and cross-cultural service experiences are truly priceless.   

James first learned about YMCA overseas volunteer opportunities when he was a college student working a summer job at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George, New York. After graduating in 1982, he was soon off to Sri Lanka for a six-week internship with the Colombo YMCA, where he led outdoor recreation and life skills programs for disadvantaged youth. He ended up staying for six months. 

After Sri Lanka, James was hooked on the thrill of international living. For the next eight years, he worked with voluntary organizations in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In general, nothing was planned — there was no grand strategy, no burning ambition, no life-long dream or goal to achieve, only a keen desire to continue living this incredibly fulfilling lifestyle out in the world.

That was about 40 years ago, and the lure of continued fun, adventure, personal growth, and meaningful work as a humanitarian aid worker has taken James to over 20 developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Except for six years of graduate studies in Hawaii, where he completed Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Public Health, he has been overseas ever since. 

Have Bag – Will Travel” is the first book in the “Adventures in International Living” series. Drawing on over 45 years of personal journal entries, the series chronicles some of his experiences living and working in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as well as low-cost adventure travel to exotic destinations on every continent except Antarctica.  

10% of proceeds from book purchases will be donated to charitable organizations in the developing world.   

THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE: 

It will stoke the fires of adventure, especially among young people – It will inspire and encourage those seeking something beyond their national borders, beyond the mainstream tourist destinations, superficial material lifestyles and empty career paths. The discovery early in life of the deeper meaning and potential derived from international and cross-cultural perspectives might even save 30 years of meaningless work later.   

It will resonate with anyone who has desired to travel and live overseas – the stories demonstrate how anyone can experience genuine fulfillment and self-discovery through different, freer ways of living, no matter what your budget.  

It reveals that you grow when you give back – Giving back to the world in return for all that has been given, and expanding one’s horizons through travel, leads to immense personal growth.  

It demonstrates perseverance with a positive mindset – After years of suffering with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, receiving an ileostomy was the best thing that happened to James. It gave him back his health, his freedom – and 45 years on, life keeps getting better all the time.  This story encourages readers to be accepting, flexible and to learn to roll with the flow. Bumped off the track? The next adventure is about to begin! Find the silver lining that transforms negatives into positives, and new doors open. 

About the Author

https://cms-internationsgmbh.netdna-ssl.com/cdn/image/article/public/pioneering-story-finalists_Jim.jpg

James Cameron Mielke is originally from Buffalo, New York, and grew up as a pastor’s son. At age 19 he was fitted with an external pouch, following years of pain, depression and suffering with Crohn’s disease. The pain and misery were gone. Almost immediately after receiving the ‘bag,’ he felt strong and exhilarated and was catapulted into a whole new energized life. For the first time in years, he was free to enjoy all that life offers and that freedom continues now, 45 years later.  

Over the years, James has spoken to college students, members of voluntary organizations and other interested groups about world service work and other options for international experiences – just as someone spoke to him 45 years ago, when he was a summer employee at the YMCA.   

James has lived and worked in over 20 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In that time, he completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in public health at the University of Hawaii. This was funded by a State of Hawaii academic award and a US Government grant administered by the East-West Center research institute in Honolulu, whose mission is to “promote better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.”  

James Mielke is an experienced expat, and also enjoys adventure travel. He has been to more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America and the Pacific. James currently works as an international health and development consultant for various humanitarian aid agencies. He is also an internationally certified classical yoga and meditation teacher and teaches both as a seasonal volunteer at YMCAs in the USA and abroad. Having  survived  these adventures,  James still travels, and lives in a peaceful seaside setting on Phuket island in southern Thailand. 

Have Bag ‒ Will TravelReview 

“Jim’s memoir clearly illustrates the power of the human spirit. The book is a rich mixture of travel, adventure, personal growth and cultural exchange. In a tumultuous era this is a guidebook to the soul. The author compels us not only to “know ourselves” in a spiritual way but to make friends and have some fun in the process. Jim is both a practical guy who rolls with life’s punches while remaining an inveterate optimist. It’s a must read for anyone with an interest in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Rob Kay, Lonely Planet author, creator of FijiGuide.com and recipient of Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award

Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

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Here in Hawaii, people like me often complain about lack of transparency, government overreach, and similar issues.  But think about it.  Does our government overreach?  Yes.  Why does it do that?  Because we let them.

Part of our culture here is to do anything we can to get along.  Let things slide.  Let bygones be bygones.  And we get taken advantage of.

Remember back in 2015 when the Foundation filed its “Stop the Skim” lawsuit against the State because the State was scooping 10% of the Honolulu Rail surcharge?  The City & County of Honolulu was being hurt but didn’t take action.  Other private businesses were being hurt but didn’t take action.  When we filed suit, we faced court hearings where the State’s attorneys were sneering, “Judge, obviously there’s nothing here.  This surcharge has been in place for a decade.  Why hasn’t the City challenged it?  Why hasn’t any other taxpayer challenged it?  Why didn’t the Foundation challenge it in the last ten years if it was so bad?”

The Foundation pressed ahead anyway.  We lost the suit in 2019, but in 2017 lawmakers changed the amount of the surcharge skim from 10% to 1%.  Taxpayers emerge victorious!

Now, we are in the age of the pandemic, with the Governor flexing his emergency powers to suspend all kinds of laws on the books.  One thing he did about a year ago, which we wrote about here, is that he completely stopped sharing the Transient Accommodations Tax with the counties even though the Hawaii Constitution and the law provided for the sharing.  With tourist arrivals through the floor, there wasn’t a lot of TAT to go around anyway, but a small trickle is still more than a big fat zero.  We suggested that this was government overreach.  The counties were being hurt, and what did the confiscation of TAT money have to do with our emergency?  I was waiting for one of the counties to sue, and then argue to our Judiciary that the Governor went too far.

I’m still waiting.  It’s been a year.

What happens if the Foundation sues?  Then the State will go to court saying, “Judge, this pipsqueak foundation is just screeching in the wilderness.  This is really a matter between the State and the counties, and if none of the counties are willing to man up then this matter doesn’t belong in court.”  At least when we challenged the rail skim, we were paying some GET so we could show a connection between us and the dispute.  This one does seem to be a dispute only between the State and the counties, and it’s tougher to justify the Foundation’s standing to sue.

Will the counties sue?  Nah!  At the county government level, we all want to get along.  Let bygones be bygones.  Besides, if a particular county makes noise, won’t it be squashed flatter than a pancake the next time the Legislature meets?

What happened to “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”?  Battles are fought all the time to keep freedom alive.  And the battles of today don’t use muskets and sabers.  Some of them are in the courtroom.  Others are in the court of public opinion. 

Although sometimes I groan when I hear of lawsuits or other antics of activist groups, I give them credit for getting off their duffs and doing something to remedy injustice. 

Not all of us were meant to be the gladiators.  For those of us who aren’t, there are other ways to show bravery.  Complain about government oppression or overreach to a legislator.  Tell an organization that does gladiator work that you appreciate their battle.  Maybe send a few dollars their way so they can keep up the good fight. 

But don’t just sit back and let yourself be stomped on.  Our Founding Fathers didn’t.  They endured ridicule and violent opposition.  They shed blood.  And they formed what we sing about as the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Post Covid Chic—Boat Shoes are Back

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According to recent stories in the New York Times and NPR all bets are off when it comes to fashion. In essence, the fashion police have given us license to wear whatever we please. As if we need the Times or NPR to tell us how to dress. Truth is, after a year or so of isolation, people are simply doing their own thing.

The recent gyrations in the fashion industry have been historical.

A recent Fast Company article reported that during the Covid era, industry revenues dropped about one third of 2019 numbers.

There was an exception.

Consumers actually increased spending on “casual” and “active” wear. And why not? People were not attending business meetings in the flesh. They were present at zoom meetings, so they didn’t have to impress the boss or client with their fabulous wardrobe.

Ergo, what folks wanted from clothing was comfort and utility. You didn’t have to go overboard on high end stuff, so long as you looked decent enough on your monthly pilgrimage to Costco.

Do you or don’t you wear socks with boat shoes? In Hawaii no one would even think twice about it…

Now that we are making our way out of confinement, we can start paying more attention to re-creating our own style. In past columns I’ve focused on “Covid Wear” — particularly trousers and crossover gear that works for the outdoors or our self imposed, semi-solitary confinement.

Given that we’re socializing it’s time look at footwear, specifically shoes germane to Hawaii.

This is a place where people wear slippers (or slippahs in local parlance) and being seen with socks and shoes is not particularly cool for your personal brand.

That’s when it dawned on me, boat shoes make a lot of sense. These are the only shoes I’m aware of where it’s definitely not cool to wear socks.

Just ask the epitome of style, John Legend.

This guy, lost in thought, has the right idea.

In addition to being an Emmy-award winning performer and, a social activist, Legend has been a global brand ambassador for the legendary shoe manufacturer, Sperry, since last year. He’s popping everywhere on Sperry’s marketing campaigns and in their social media content. He’s also collaborating on a new fashion line of shoes (including boat shoes) which come out later this year. Yes, my eyes are peeled.

There’s some irony here.

Boat shoes are timeless fashion indeed, but their origins are in the WASPY, 1930s epicenter of yachting—the Cruising Club of America. (We’re not talking gay bars).

There was a need for sturdy shoes with rubber soles that wouldn’t slip “topside”. This was purely pragmatic. No fun breaking your leg or whacking your head on the mast or a stanchion much less, going overboard. That’s why the original boat shoes were so popular.

Boat shoes were designed for a reason by the founder, Paul Sperry. I can tell you from personal experience, slipping on a deck can be treacherous. Mr. Sperry’s boat shoes were the perfect solution.

On a serious note, the “Sperry” soles (used on boots) were even part of the WWII effort to keep sailors safe on deck.

It’s been way over half a century since members of the New York Yacht Club were the only ones that donned boat shoes. Like a lot of practical, durable items—think Ben Davis workpants, bib overalls, etc., boat shoes became a fashion statement among young people.

Of course, they are still are standard wear for serious sailors and (perhaps) preppies (if they still exist.) Notwithstanding their establishment lineage, boat shoes are now unequivocally hip. (Ask John Legend if you have any doubt).

For you anti-establishment types, the Preppy thing might be off-putting but I say be open minded. These shoes transcend space, time and class.

Or as the Sperry folks say, “the brand is now fully rooted in the history of American style”. 

Given our proclivity in Hawaii to shun socks, we don’t need to be reminded that it’s cool to wear boat shoes sockless. However, for folks on the mainland who might be insecure about these things, New York Times bestselling author (of Men and Style), David Coggins, proclaims: 

“We can’t have our feet shackled with grotesque tube socks, corseted and constrained. Go forth with a liberated ankle!… a boat shoe communicates its wearer’s relaxed nature, a personality that does not conform to a rigorous office dress code. In a boat shoe every day feels like Saturday, work far from your mind. Ideally, you’ll be out of reception, unreachable by bosses, in-laws and creditors…”  

Modeling my “Amaretto” Sperry Gold Cup shoes at sunset in Honolulu

Suffice it to say, Mr. Coggins is preaching to the Hawaii Choir.

According to a press release from Sperry, John Legend himself threw down the style gauntlet, stepping out in his cropped trousers and boat shoes, asserting his bare ankles. Said Legend of the age old socks-or-no-socks question, “It depends on the cut and fit of your pants, and how cool you are”.

I think in Hawaii it’s safe to say, we’re pretty darn cool when it comes to fashion.

Sperry Boat Shoes come in a variety of styles and price points ranging from about $95 for the entry level Men’s Boat Essentials to the Gold Cup series which can run up to $374 if you go for their Handcrafted in Main category. I opted for mid-priced Gold Cups (made outside the US) that sport the Anti-Shock and Vibration (ASV) technology soles with enhanced traction and removable molded EVA midsole provide shock absorption. They run $179.

Anti-Shock and Vibration technology soles are the way to go on the Gold Cup series.

They are perfect for my Hawaii lifestyle. They are really soft and comfy to wear. The leather used in the Gold Cup style is a better grade and hence, they feel better. I noted that the sockless break-in time was not long at all. They were flat out comfortable from the get go.

What’s practical for me was how they’ll go with just about everything.

You can wear them with jeans, technical pants, shorts–even with a blazer if you want to get formal. (They are probably not the best for hiking but you could still do it).

I liked the thoughtful video from Parker York Smith (below) who has some good ideas of how these shoes can work for you. (Granted, this guy is from the Mainland and clearly is preppy material but he seems ok and has nice abs).

I plan to wear them at an upcoming birthday BBQ and who knows, maybe at the next Chamber of Commerce meeting.

If you have any personal experiences with boat shoes drop me a line!

Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and Fijiguide.com. (He appreciates a good pair of boat shoes).

Intent to Veto

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On June 21st, Gov. David Ige released a lengthy list of bills he intended to veto.  The Hawaii Constitution requires him to issue that list and provides that any bills not on the list will become law, with the Governor’s signature or otherwise.

The bills on the list included a few we had been discussing in this space.

House Bill 58, what we had been calling the “Enola Gay Frankenbill,” was a mishmash of tax increases and General Excise Tax exemption suspensions.  We wrote articles discussing the exemptions proposed to be shut off; discussing the “Frankenbill” process where the bill, which at that time had nothing to do with tax increases, was stuffed with material from Senate Bill 56, which was all about tax increases; and describing its predecessor Senate Bill 56, an omnibus tax increase bill that we called the “Enola Gay” bill because of the potential for it to carpet-bomb our economy with the tax increases it contained.

In his intent to veto message, the Governor said that our economy was now looking to be in better shape so we no longer need the extreme revenue-raising measures contained in the bill.  It also didn’t help that the bill would have raised conveyance taxes on all residential housing developments, including affordable housing.

Another bill that made the list was House Bill 862, which would shut off the existing sharing with the counties of transient accommodations tax money and force the counties to impose their own TAT surcharge on top of the 10.25% TAT, 4% GET, and 0.5% GET surcharge that is already imposed on a tourist’s hotel bill.  We wrote about that bill back in May

This bill also holds the dubious distinction of being the winner of the League of Women Voters’ and Common Cause/Hawaii’s  “Rusty Scalpel Award” for being the most appalling bill that begins with one topic and drastically changes content in its way through the legislative process.

There, the Governor’s intent to veto message cited concerns about not adequately funding the Hawaii Convention Center, and also voiced concern that an added 3% county TAT “could have a major impact on Hawaiʻi’s nascent economic recovery.”

Also on the intent to veto list is House Bill 613, which among other things appropriated federal American Rescue Plan Act money to the Department of Education in great detail, and provided for a one-time stabilization payment of $2,200 for each full-time and half-time teacher.  We observed that the “me too” syndrome may be in play here because HGEA’s members, including principals, staff, and custodians, were left off that gravy train.

The Governor’s message on this one focused on his concern that the appropriations in the bill didn’t comply with federal guidance for the spending, putting the state at risk for federal recapture of the funding.

Interestingly, several bills on the veto list, including this one, were called out for lack of transparency or lack of public participation in the law-making process.  That struck this author as something unusual, and to some degree hypocritical because the Governor has suspended the State’s open records and open meetings laws for over a year, and that suspension is still in effect per the “Twenty-First Proclamation Related to the COVID‑19 Emergency” issued on June 7, 2021.  If it can be believed, it’s a good development.  It should force legislators to think more carefully about gut-and-replace, wholesale closed-door changes, or other secret maneuvers that change legislation at the last minute so the opportunity for the public to weigh in on it is abbreviated or eliminated.

Shortly, we will find out whether some of these bills will be vetoed, and shortly thereafter we should be hearing whether our legislative leaders will be mustering for possible veto overrides.  Hopefully, the bad stuff will die and remain dead.

Anti-Federalism: The Only Way Everyone Can Get What They Want

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Not since the US Civil War has our nation been so divided. But where slavery and state sovereignty were the issues in 1861, today the divide is much deeper; along ideological and cultural lines. There is no line on a map. The divide is among the people.

Take a moment to talk with the average resident from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York City and you get one picture of what is right and wrong. Talk to someone from Texas, Florida, or fly-over country, and you get a polar-opposite view. The divide is geographically cultural.

States that harbor some of the largest urban populations – California, Illinois, and New York – tend to lean more to the radical Left, whereas a larger propensity toward self-sufficiency and freedom from government exists in states that have more rural and agricultural space.

Let’s get down to specifics.

It would be safe to say that California, Illinois, and New York – as well as a few others, can be considered solidly liberal states. They tend to be deficit-spending states that offer a large number of government-funded (read: taxpayer-funded) services to their residents.

These states also have a heavier hand in private sector oversight via regulations and taxation. After all, someone has to pay for all of the “free stuff” because, as the clear-eyed know, nothing is “free.”

In these states – and especially in their larger urban areas, the government has conditioned the people to expect the government to provide for them, many times beyond the threshold of the “common good” mandate, cultivating not only a public dependency on government but ceding a great bit of liberty to the government in return.

In these locations, the tolerance for bending the knee to regulation and mandate without questioning the government’s authority to impose either is greater. We all witnessed that fact during the recent COVID event.

Almost the exact opposite is true in an overwhelming majority of the Southern, Midwestern, Southwestern, and intercoastal Northwestern states; an overwhelming number of the 50 states.

This isn’t to say that the aforementioned dichotomy doesn’t exist within every state but that sense of dependence and expectation isn’t as prevalent. But the biggest gulf is bi-coastal with a more “government tolerant” ideology prevailing in the aforementioned states.

The thing is, this dichotomy doesn’t have to create an ideological gulf. We, as Americans, whether liberal, libertine, or conservative, don’t have to engage in a caustic cultural divide. In fact, our Founders and Framers addressed this issue in the debate over Federalism as captured in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

The cure for our current predicament – the remedy for our current divide, rests in an embrace of anti-Federalism. If we would have had fidelity to anti-Federalism as a balanced part of our government we certainly wouldn’t be experiencing today’s divergence.

If we are freedom-loving people; people who believe in individualism and liberty, then we shouldn’t seek to deny anyone the manner in which they choose to live. That said, we also shouldn’t deny people the right to exclude or include certain socio-political elements into society onto which they have placed importance.

Anti-Federalism – the decentralization of government (to “circle back” to an originalist idea now used by the cryptocurrency world) – allowed each state to embrace certain socio-political elements that enabled them to be unique from one another all while embracing the basic enumerated freedoms made sacrosanct in the Bill of Rights.

Anti-Federalism allowed California to be California and Texas to be Texas. Let me explain in terms of what that would mean today.

California recently budgeted to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants living in that state. In the end, because California’s spending on government services is supplemented by federal dollars, the entirety of the country is affected by California’s decision to do this.

They will make the argument that they are only using Californians’ tax dollars to do it, but when federal dollars free up state tax revenues to execute a plan such as this, federal tax dollars play into the equation. If California had to fully fund every program currently receiving federal tax dollars, it would be unlikely they would be shelling out $1.3 billion annually to provide that healthcare.

If anti-Federalism were embraced, the federal government wouldn’t be involved in supplementing any state-sanctioned program or initiative under state purview. There would be no unfunded federal mandates and the federal government’s role in governing the State of California would be limited to the enumerated powers of the US Constitution pre-bastardization of the Commerce Clause and subsequent federal government usurpation of the 10th Amendment.

The reward for the federal government being limited in state issues is that tax revenue from California that would normally go to the federal government’s General Fund would stay in California for the state legislature to manage, giving the state government broad purview over the overwhelming majority of government actions in California.

Less money to the federal government means more money to the state government without increased taxation on the people. Less money for the federal government to coerce state governments with means more state government autonomy under its unique constitution.

So, anti-Federalism in place in all 50 states, and the federal government starved; neutered in its power to the general provisions originally assessed by the Framers and what do we have? Fifty separate states with 50 separate jurisdictions and 50 separate governmental environments bound together by a limited federal government.

But what does this mean?

It means that where California can vote to give free health insurance to illegal immigrants in its state, that mandate doesn’t affect any other state, giving California the ethical authority to engage in that practice. It doesn’t impose its ethics or legislated morality on any other state.

It means if New York wants to embrace free abortions for pregnant women or mandate gender pronouns in schools, or if Illinois wants to make bathrooms available to all sexes, they can. But it also means that Florida, Nebraska, and all the other states don’t have to recognize those laws, being free to exist as uniquely as California.

But the larger point here is this. If someone identified as a glow-in-the-dark, cobalt blue, Marxist, they would have the freedom to exist in a state that embraces glow-in-the-dark, cobalt blue, Marxism. If someone identified as a Second Amendment supporting, church-going, biological sex-supporting conservative, they would have the freedom to exist in a state that embraced Second Amendment supporting, church-going, biological sex-supporting conservatism.

California would be free to be California. Florida would be free to Florida, and so on and so forth. It embraces the adage that in a free country – a truly free country, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

So, what’s the impediment to anti-Federalism? Why can’t each of the 50 American states exist unique and yet bound by general federalism?

The answer: The power-hungry and greedy political class in association with the national political parties.

Think about it. What entities are constantly attempting to pit one demographic against another? And aren’t these same entities only concerned about far-reaching legislation that would further strangle the states by federal overreach and unconstitutional purview?

Whether special interest groups or political parties, activists or politicians, all of the freedom-killing ideas foisted upon the country as “solutions” to the “problems” come from national entities seeking to create national legislation and national cultural change, robbing the states of their uniqueness and sovereignty; robbing the people of choice.

Employing anti-Federalism as an avenue to returning constitutional sovereignty to the states is imperative if we are to avoid the impending fracture of our nation. This can be done by the states crafting pre-emptive financial legislation that protects them from the punitive damages the federal government would impose to coerce states to its will and then employing the full force of nullification to claw back state sovereignty.

This is the simplest and most purely American way to take back our country from the charlatans, opportunists, and radical activists that have wrestled power away from We the People.

The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
– President George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Secret Tax Relief on Maui?

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In a recent article, we spoke of a decision by the government of Maui to broaden the class of properties classified as short-term rental (which happens to be the class of properties with the second highest property tax rate, even edging out hotels and resorts, beaten only by timeshares). We noted that the decision happened at light speed, and we wondered why.

An alert reader brought a clue to our attention.

In 2020, the Maui County auditor issued a report on the fiscal sustainability and financial condition of the county. It’s listed on the County’s website as a self-initiated project.

One paragraph, almost at the end of the report, says that “the coronavirus pandemic has challenged the County to make many unprecedented decisions. One such decision was to reduce the Assessed Values of Hotel and Resort properties due to the catastrophic drops in occupancy experienced by that industry.”

What does this mean? Apparently, while the pandemic was still raging some of the hotels came to the Maui administration and said, “We can’t do this! We can’t pay your property taxes because people aren’t coming any more!“ The administration couldn’t change property tax rates, because those are set by ordinance, but they could do something about the assessed valuations of the hotel properties. And they dropped the valuations.

It seems that this step was done very quietly. It didn’t make big news. But it bothered the Auditor enough so that he wrote about it.

To be sure, down valuing the hotels may have been perfectly legitimate because one of the traditional indicators of real property value is the amount of income that it generates.  But the pandemic and the resulting government-mandated closures, which caused hotel occupancy to fall through the floor, are (we hope) temporary conditions and therefore shouldn’t carry much weight in determining the value of a property through consideration of how much income it will generate over a long time span. 

The county auditor was also concerned about a bigger problem.  Was anyone else given the opportunity to come to the Real Property Tax Division and have their property values adjusted immediately because of the pandemic?  Our supreme court in 1996, in Maui County v. KM Hawaii Inc., 81 Haw. 248, 915 P.2d 1349 (1996), faulted Maui County for using assessment methods that were not uniform and equal, thus violating the equal protection clauses of the federal and Hawaii constitutions.  Giving some hotels the chance to revalue their properties on a snap basis might not only be unfair to other hotels or other property taxpayers in general, but also might be unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, with the valuation adjustments that did happen, the property tax collections undoubtedly went down in a big way – and with the Governor shutting off the spigot of Transient Accommodations Tax money that had been shared with the counties, the county needed to raise some cash pronto.  We don’t know for sure, but that fiscal pressure may have motivated the warp-speed property tax ordinance amendments that were enacted at the end of 2020.

In any event, this episode seems to show a government being run on the fly, with lots of back room deals that regular people could not hope to have access to.  The likelihood of arbitrary application of the laws is sky high.  Is that really the government that we want to have?

Music Artist Mike Izon Releases Post Covid Feel Good Song “Summer Days Are Here Again”

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Mike Izon

The very talented Mike Izon (“Purple Haze,” “Brown Sugar Girl”) is back, and this time around his latest release, “Summer Days Are Here Again,” is a song that our world has been waiting for since 2020!

“Summer Days Are Here Again,” is a post covid “Welcome Back World Track,“ full of life, summer and fun. On this Island Pop Radio Mix, Mike Izon delivers on all levels checking the boxes from lead vocals, to serendipitous harmonies, infectious hooks and pure positivity in the message of songwriting . As we finally return to the Summer and partial normalcy in our lives; Mike Izon reminds us on the simplicity and charm of appreciating what we have; time, people, and loving life.

Produced by two-time Grammy Award Winner Dave Tucciarone, and with a “Summer Dream Remix” by Pete “Mixmaster” Hammond, (Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue, Dead Or Alive, Donna Summer) “Summer Days Are Here Again,” is a simple song for everybody and everyone just to make them feel good about life and living again in those Summer Days!

Released on the RSM Record label, you can find “Summer Days Are Here Again,’ by Mike Izon on i-Tunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and wherever find music is sold and distributed!

Keep your eyes out for the music video released on the same day! Aloha

Music and Lyrics by M. Izon and R. Pileggi

Telecommute in Style (and in clarity) with the Jabra Evolve 2 85

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Back in the bad old days of Covid isloation, those of us fortunate enough to work from home found ourselves getting intimately familiar electronic gear. One of the most important components in this assemblage is the headset. In a search for excellence the winner for me was Jabra Evolve 2 85 wireless headset.

Is become my BFF.

Why?

The Jabra Evolve 2 85 ($314 on Amazon) works like a charm for everything from Zoom meetings to client calls to music videos.

MY newest BFF –Jabra Evolve 2 85 which is great for fielding calls or listening to music. Consistent wireless reception around the house.

Let’s call it the Rolls Royce of wireless headsets. Not just because it’s expensive but it’s comfortable, even plush, and will keep you tele-commuting in style. As alluded to above, if you want to listen to music, it’s also first rate.

The headset supports up to two devices simultaneously.

How does that work?

If you’re watching a video on your tablet and a call comes in you can switch. You can pair up to 8 different devices! The batteries are formidable–when fully charged you’ll get 37 hours of time. Just plug in a USB “C” charging cable and you’re good to go. (For a little more, Jabra offers a charging stand for this device).

The best thing, from a practical standpoint, is that it provides supreme mobility around the house. I can place my phone on the kitchen table and walk anywhere in my home without a shift in audio quality/reception. A little fold-out boom mic offers enhanced voice quality or, you can use its other built-in mics in the headset without “deploying” the boom.

Notably, it has excellent passive noise cancelling capabilities. It will diminish the honk of a car or if you happen to be washing dishes while talking to a friend, it’s going to make your activities less obvious. (Of course, you’d never do anything like that, would you?).

I tested it on calls with the radio blaring, the faucet running, even (accidentally) dropping a baking pan and the “noise cancelling” was first rate.

Super light, comfortable (note foam ear muffs) and great battery life.

You’ll also appreciate this product’s comfort–you can wear it all day.

It has large cups, reminiscent of earmuffs you’d see on a rifle range but the device is surprisingly light. Sure, it ain’t cheap but as my colleague, Cindy Ramirez, a local voiceover artist noted, you’re paying for consistent audio quality which is challenging to find in wireless headsets. Of course, you could invest in a really good wired headset and you’d also have great, consistent quality but the caveat is that you’d be tethered to your desk. (No washing dishes or feeding the cat!)

On a personal note this headset is light years better (for me) than earbuds which seem to tumble out of my ears at the worst possible moment.

Finally, when I review products, I always make a habit out of checking in with their tech support. Jabra’s is first rate.

If you’re interested in a Rolls Royce for your office, this is the ticket

Rob Kay, a Honolulu-based writer, writes about technology and sustainability for the Honolulu Star Advertiser and is the creator of fijiguide. com. He can be reached at Robertfredkay@gmail.com.