For Hawaii employers, it’s deja vu all over again.
Just like they were a year ago at this time, the businesses that provide jobs to the state’s civilian workforce are in danger of having their annual unemployment taxes skyrocket, which, in turn, could cripple Hawaii’s economy just when it is starting to get back on its feet.
Last year, the tax was supposed to more than triple, until the Legislature finally stepped in to ease the pain. This year it could increase by more than double, from an average of $825 per employee to $1,768.
The tax is legally required to increase because of all the demands on the unemployment system caused by the coronavirus lockdowns, which at one point saw more than 200,000 Hawaii employees out of work.
Many of those employees are still out of work, still drawing unemployment wages and still depleting the state’s unemployment fund reserve, as the state’s emergency restrictions on businesses approach possibly their third year.
When the reserve drops, Hawaii employers are expected to make up the difference.
Last year, the Legislature passed a law that froze the unemployment tax rate for employers at the Schedule D rate — a slight increase from the pre-lockdowns rate, but far less than the catastrophic Schedule H hike that would have otherwise automatically gone into effect.
Unfortunately, the bill was little more than a stop-gap, addressing only 2021 and 2022. Now, as 2023 approaches, Hawaii businesses are once again in a pickle.
Since the lockdowns began, the state has paid out $6.5 billion in jobless claims, leaving the unemployment fund with only $123 million.
In order to keep the fund up last year, the state funneled $800 million from the federal government into it, then cleared that debt with an equivalent amount of federal relief funds. Still, the fund is still far from the $1.3 billion reserve that is deemed adequate for a year’s unemployment claims.
Thus, if the Legislature doesn’t intervene again, the state unemployment tax will soar up to Schedule H — the highest rate — for 2023. That’s an increase of 114%, more than enough to affect hiring decisions or prevent struggling businesses from surviving the lockdowns.
Hawaii was one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdowns, especially given their effect on tourism. Yet, we’ve seen some positive trends, with the economy growing faster than some predicted, leading to higher state revenues. In fact, the state budget currently has a $3 billion surplus, at least a portion of which could be used to shore up the unemployment fund.
In a recovering economy, the last thing you want to do is introduce a massive tax hike. Instead, you want to embrace policies that grow the economy. That’s because the state can gain far more in revenues from an economic bump than from trying to wring more tax dollars out of already-strapped Hawaii businesses.
The Aloha State’s private sector has had to overcome so much in the past two years. Many businesses have had to close their doors forever. Others are barely holding on, hoping that the worst is behind us.
There are many ways that the Legislature can address this problem. One could be to introduce another rate freeze, to give officials time to reexamine the law and its automatic tax increases.
What we should not do is levy yet another heavy burden on Hawaii’s businesses and disrupt our state’s economic recovery. ____________
Keli’i Akina is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
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.
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
When it comes to a video light, I used to lug heavy camera gear around to capture the funny, meaningful or downright awesome moments that can spontaneously arise during the days of our lives. Since the cellphone revolution, my camera has become my choice mostly for it’s light weight, flexibility of use and features, and reasonably fast time of operation.
Let’s say an important moment is emerging, I reach for my cell and in a second or two am ready for the moment to present. Or, perhaps a moment is in full swing, in a few seconds, I’m recording without having lost much of the meaningful moments.
A serious impediment to night-time photography, recording those “dark moments,” is the cellphone camera itself. Cell cameras are notorious for their poor low-light performance, making low light spontaneity unable to be visually recorded. Also, cell flashlights have limited range and focus. External video lights can be cumbersome and lack flexibility. So, if I’m holding a light and trying to focus/exposure, AND point-n-shoot, frame the image, I’m not going to get optimum results.
FirePak video light
Along comes the FirePak video light, charger and flashlight. SureFire’s design strategy is simple enough, integrate a phone case with rechargeable storage and 2 high-performance mobile LED lights with enough lumens designed for video for 16:9 video frames in a form factor compatible with multiple sizes of phone cameras. USB and micro-USB ports allow charging your cell phone from the charger, or an included cable can be used to recharge the FirePak video light. SureFire says it has an effective range of up to 50 feet and while the light does travel that far, usable lumens land in the mid-range.
When I picked up the FirePak for the first time, I was struck by the wedge shape that fit comfortably in my hand. At first, the squished wedge shape looks cumbersome. Pick it up and it feels completely different. If you can imagine a drip coffee cone with the tip cut off and both sides squished flatter into an oval shape, you can imagine the shape of this flashlight. The FirePak slides smoothly under the molded rails of the phone case snapping securely onto a stop that positions the LED lights in two positions with respect to the iPhone camera.
The durable case is built for rugged use (not moisture or water) with a 4-level light switch and distinct illumination levels. Design-wise the features are functional while dramatically expanding your performance—as a video light or a back-up battery.
LED lights create enough lumens for 16:9 video frames
When I switched it on, the double LED “eyes” emitted two blinding rays of light, even at the lowest setting. I wondered when I might use that much light? However, once you turn it on at night, you discover the benefit of blinding light.
At the highest setting the bulbs create significant heat, so don’t be surprised when you touch it. As an illumination device, there is enough light to do fine work, like reading or repairing, too. A distinct setting for faces for interviews would be a good user feature, just in case you are listening, SureFire?
It’s kinda tough to steady the cell when the light is installed on the case because of the extra weight and thickness requires your normal hand position to block the LEDs. Your hand size and strength will discover what position is best for you. I had to adjust as shown in the pictures below. It’s quite difficult to switch on/off the light without shaking the image. Shooting vertically is difficult for the same reasons, so you’ll have to learn how to control the frame with two hands.
If I were a DP on a film using cell-phone video, and this light, I would make sure there were several on charge at all times. No one wants to wait for your only battery to charge. A question a newbie DP might ask is: How long will one last? So, test your equipment before shoot day, OK?
Charging the unit
Charging the unit was problematic, as my first attempts failed, due I believe to a mismatched charger plug. Initially, I began charging the Firepak using a USB port built into a small power strip. After two days, the blinking red light indicated it was not fully charged, though I thought it might be close to fully charged, so I began to charge my cellphone at 5%. I recorded the time and charging rate at 10% intervals but at 57% the FirePak fully discharged and stopped charging the cell battery. I reached out to Rob Kay of Guns and Tech, he suggested using a direct charging plug and trying again. Once I plugged it into a 2A charger direct to the plug, it charged up overnight.
All in all, this unit is a good buy for those who want to expand their video capabilities to low-night-time conditions. It is small and powerful enough to have in your toolbox, just in case. It is durable and useful for most cellphone recording situations. And, it serves well as a flashlight illuminator during emergencies and when you might need a torch to light your path.
Whether you already have a youtube channel, are a budding professional videographer, or just want the firepower to be able to record life’s dark moments, FirePak is an excellent choice for all. You can see the FirePak in action at the manufacturer’s website: surefire.com/firepak
As everyone who lives here knows, Hawaii is no stranger to power outrages. The last big storm that came through knocked power out on the North Shore for half a day, yet that of course would be child’s play, if we got hit by something the magnitude of Iniki or Irma. As we all know, it’s just a matter of time.
So, how to charge our devices, in this event? Not everyone can afford a gas-powered generator (at least $1000) much less deal with the hassle of storing fuel. There are a few fixes that will at least keep small devices like your phone, pad, flashlight or radio powered up.
The first option, and the least expensive, is to stock up on batteries. The industry standard for modern flashlights, radios, lanterns, etc is the 18650 Li-Ion battery. Get yourself a battery charger to keep them topped off.
If you want to charge devices such as tablets, cell phones, etc., you’ll need to get some type of powerbank, essentially a battery with ports that allow you to charge any USB-based device. I’d suggest, opting for a portable solar panel which can assist in charging small devices, and keeping powerbanks topped off. There are a number of them available for backpackers or home users.
Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit
With a little research, I soon came upon the weatherproof GoalZero Zero Venture 30 portable power-bank phone, tablet & solar panel combo. It is a compact kit that includes storage and recharger. The kit is designed for the backpacker or traveler but anyone with charging needs in an emergency can benefit from this system.
Designed to charge point-of-view cameras, tablets, phones and other USB compatible devices, it’s 28 Wh (3.6V 7800 mAh) rechargeable battery can be coupled with a Nomad 7, 13 or 20-watt solar panel. Together they weigh a little more than 1-½ pounds. Built for travel or backpacking, for home use, it’s a bit under-powered.
The battery unit has been designed to be weatherproof (light rain not submersion) and shock-proof (moderate impact resistance) and can remember charging profiles of the devices you connect. The battery can be placed into a protective shipping mode designed to avoid self-discharge during periods of storage. For natural disasters, fully charging the battery and then placing it in storage mode for future use, is recommended prior to the event. Such a practice extends battery life significantly. The manufacturer claims “hundreds of life charging cycles” for the battery. The battery has two USB ports each capable of dishing out 2.4A each just like a plug version would. Apple, Android and Windows devices compatible with the output cables above.
This system included a 7-watt panel. While a standard 2A USB plug-in source can charge the battery in as little as 5 hours, charging times will vary from 16-hours with the 7-watt panel to 6-hours with the 20 watt panel. Priced accordingly, an innovative aspect of this kit is up to 4 solar panels can be chained together via the chaining input port. Remember, battery and device charging times will depend on both the panels capacity, the angle of the sun to the panels, and the amount of sunlight available in your geographic location.
During periods of use, charge the battery fully first, then connect to the battery and charge your devices is the recommended use cycle. And, don’t forget to place the recharger in storage mode before you put it away for future use. Prior to an emergency, I suggest a dry run with the devices you plan to use before the emergency occurs so you understand the limits and capabilities of your Venture 30 Solar panel recharger kit.
The solar charger has four panels and when folded is about the size of an Apple iPad. It folds into a rugged nylon case, which can be quickly unfolded and hung up to face the sun. A mesh pouch on the rear holds the charging port and cables, the devices to be charged, and the battery pack. It has a series of grommets along the edges of the panel so that you can easily attach it to your backpack.
The panels provide up to 14W of 5 volt USB power under a bright sun ideally producing 2,000mAh every hour. That means you can recharge the powerbank that comes with it in about 4 hours (under a bright Hawaii sun).
The panels provide up to 14W of 5 volt USB power under a bright sun ideally producing 2,000mAh every hour. That means you can recharge the powerbank that comes with it in about 4 hours (under a bright Hawaii sun).
According to the experts I spoke to at Illuminationgear.com 1.5-2Ah is the minimum acceptable usable panel output.
Otherwise, charging your powerbank, or anything else, will take a full day. The Sunjack 14 W system, which retails for $149 (with the power bank) is a good place to start. You could also consider their 20W kit with 2 lithium battery packs, for $169.
The Sunjack’s 10,000mAh Advanced Powerbank, which comes with the solar kit (or sells separately for $29) has three ports, the standard USB, the micro USB and the new USB-C. What I really like is that it comes with Qualcomm’s “Quick Charge 3.0” technology. This means if you have a phone or other device that is “quick charge” compatible (such as my Samsung 7) this little unit will charge your device (according to the manufacturer) up to 80% faster.
Whether it’s 80% or 59% faster is anyone’s guess but it’s fast. My cell phone was charged in about 20 minutes. In an emergency situation this could be crucial.
I’d certainly recommend this nifty little combo from SunJack.
The takeaway on this piece is the larger solar charging unit you can afford, the better. What’s more, if you can get a combo that comes with a fast-charging powerbank, assuming your devices also have this capability, get one.
Editor’s Note: Rob Kay contributed to this article
How many of you remember the first time you saw our Earth? This view of ourselves embedded in a living planet, wrapped in oneness, exploded into our collective consciousness.
Did you know soon after this view of our whole planet was available to us, the modern global environmental movement was birthed?
“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” – Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948
For many Americans, perhaps the entire human population, this picture has sparked a collective shift about our planet. For the first time in history, we saw that we are all on a canoe—one race of islanders afloat in a sea of space.
This photo was taken from Apollo 8 on Christmas eve 1968 while scouting for a moon landing site. The crew lost radio contact with NASA going around the back of the moon and took this photo when they re-emerged from the dark side of the moon.
Imagine… as they rounded the moon’s edge, they saw our Earth some 240,000 miles away—glowing in deep blue framed by white clouds—embedded in seemingly empty space. The surface features in the foreground are on the eastern limb of the moon as viewed from our planet.
Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders had become the first humans to leave Earth orbit, entering lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. In a historic live broadcast that night, the crew took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, closing with a holiday wish from Commander Borman: “We close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.” — Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell
As a species we had ventured beyond our Earth’s atmosphere into the sea of emptiness around our planet home. It was the first mission to leave Earth orbit and these were the first astronauts to see the Earth as a whole. Now we have the meta-view, a view of ourselves as one system, held together in space with no one to save us and no one more responsible than us for our shared destiny.
Within 2 years of publication of this perspective, 1970, the modern environmental movement was birthed, the first Earth Day was held, and the Federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were passed by a Republican, Richard Nixon, who clearly recognized the values of conservation, of clean air and water to all our people.
In 1970, with nine staff members and a $125,000 budget, a Washington, D.C.-based group organized the Environmental Teach-in, which would become became the first Earth Day. With then senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as their champion, the staffers brought together volunteers in dozens of cities and college campuses around the country.
Hayes, who had dropped out of Harvard Law School the year before to join Senator Nelson’s project, also chaired the Earth Day anniversary celebrations in 1990 and 2000. ”[Hayes was] the one who did the unglamorous, wearisome job of starting it up,” Ralph Nader told the New York Times in 1990. “[Hayes] is an orchestrator of environmental events which were national … and now are global.”
Like Earth, Hawaiian islands are remote and surrounded by a sea that restricts passage, yet, unlike Hawaii, humans do not have ships bringing food or water to Earth. There is no Planet B. We have no other home nor do we have alternative sources of food and water.
Earth day 1970 celebrations in Hawaii were led by Bruce Justin Miller and his team at University of Hawaii. The events of the first Earth Day, were called the First National Environmental Teach-In. While I do not have any pictures from that day, I ran across this letter written from Al Gore to Bruce and his team in 1999.
[Click on the pictures to expand them into larger sizes for reading or to download.]
And, these micro-fiche snippets from Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser, are illustrative of the energy and interest of folks then. Thanks to Dave Atcheson.
In the Honolulu-Advertiser article was an a column advocating green practices. Notice it mentions the UH Earth Day event, and proposes ways for islanders to reduce waste by using reusable bags, making laundry soap, reducing car miles, and eliminating toxic cleaning products, and pesticides, such as DDT, etc.
Yet, here we are almost 50-years later debating those same ideas, because fossil fuel businesses have such a stranglehold on politics and people, we still cannot believe we can change our behaviors, it seems.
In the second article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, dated April 22, 1970, a prophetic quote from scientist, Dr. J. Murray Mitchell Jr. who said, “…The release of increasing quantities of carbon dioxide and thermal pollution into the atmosphere threatens to change global weather and melt the polar ice, flooding wide areas. Man may begin to notice the change by the end of this century.”
For many GenX’ers, perhaps even Boomers—ahead of our time—that our society is still _talking_ about changing our behavior, almost 50-years later, reducing our waste and footprint on our only planet—still talking and not doing—induces major depression and climate angst. Yet, it is also the driving force for social improvement of our continued advocacy. As the 50th anniversary approaches of that moment when a picture of our Earth shimmering in space changed us forever, why not get involved with the Earth Day Network?
Riseup folks, we are much better than we have been programmed to believe! Stand up for the Earth on which you stand.
Each generation’s ability to advance their own destinies and contribute positively to subsequent generations is dependent on their awareness of how important it is to be future focused. The hourglass of time does not stop running, and it will take all of us, starting now, to imagine and work our way beyond the past we and our ancestors have created, yet where many surprisingly find ourselves stuck.
Look… the future is coming for you. Can you imagine a future-focused—worst and best-case scenario—a scenario largely dependent upon what we do now?
Starting with a pragmatic understanding of reality, as it is today—this moment—is crucial to effectively create our dreams in the future. It has been said, if you are anxious, you are focused too much on the future. If you are, regretful or depressed, too much on the past. If you are content, then you are present focused. Too much of one and you are stuck!
Near Future Scenario Anyone Born after 2000 and Today’s High School Students
Scenario…The year is 2025. Hawaii, like most of the U.S., has accelerated their shift to a model relying upon extended family groups. College debt has continued to rise and further compromised meager savings; increased long-term debt has become an unsustainable challenge for many parents and students, alike. Little attention has been focused on what courses and degrees will result in work (or jobs) for these youngsters who have grown up in an age of uncertainty. The poor have grown poorer, educational systems have not kept up with emerging market-driven needs and the middle-class, especially has continued to erode. The U.S. world educational ranking grade remains at a “C” – i.e., the bottom of the middle of the pack.
A different scenario…The year is still 2025.
Our educational institutions have responded to the revolutionary needs of students and provided them with expert guidance as to the set of courses that will ensure their best options in the future. Likewise, college costs have been eased by the inclusion of more virtual courses taught by world-renowned educators who inspire as well as instruct. Targeted technical knowledge, specific skills, flexibility and lifetime learning are now embraced by highly diverse mainstream workers. U.S. world educational rankings have risen to a “B” and we are on our way to an “A” ranking.
Now, today, ask yourself:
Are your children’s schools teaching robotics and new technologies at every age and level – from kindergarten on? Do you know?
Are you involved with your children’s teachers – challenging them to advocate for continuous improvement in teaching methodologies?
Have you read Playbook for Teens on Amazon? Might you inspire high-schoolers with the real-life stories of people, just a few years older than they are; people who can demonstrate winning game plans that will matter to their own futures.
Are you building blocks for future-focused viable careers by helping your children to find opportunities to learn well beyond the classroom walls?
The future will be determined by what we teach our children today
Pivot to the Pacific, into YOUR future.
We are your Wingmen
Reach out to your favorite wingman—we are multi-generational coaches. You will benefit from our proven 8-Step process. Let us guide you to what you need to know and do in order to advance your career in a time of hyper-shift. We can help you implement a plan that will work for you the day after the day after tomorrow.
What motivates you to get out into the urban world to stand and speak for positive vision of the future?
In 2007, as he lay in the hospital, his body succumbing to the ravages of chemo and cancer, my younger brother called me out. I was there with about 30 of his family and friends. Tim had been sitting quietly in his bed, propped up, yet with his head lowered, listening to the muffled banter from everyone. I was over at the door, opening and closing it softly so that the sudden sounds would not jar him, as he loved quiet stillness.
Suddenly, he raised his head, looked me in the eyes from across the room, and asked, “What are you doing over there, Robbie?”
Think about five short years from now, UNLESS something radical changes…
The old will be older and broker and millions, in this fastest aging of U.S. States, will increase dependence upon younger generations amid overburdened social and healthcare systems that are ready to plunge our economy into a state-of-disaster.
Gen “Z” will be out in full force – half won’t be ready and many more will be denied access to specific skills and competencies the future demands. Increased negative economic and societal challenges will increase major differences. In Hawaii, for example, college costs will continue to rise much faster than subsequent wage growth.
Hawaii’s workers will not be in the full-time, “job” workforce. In the private sector, needed skills, competencies and talent will be used when needed, if needed and as often as needed. The race to a safe haven in the public sector will be overtaken by underfunded pensions. Our ability to pay for the last of the “lifetime” jobs, already standing on shaky ground, will be vulnerable to changes you might not want to experience.
Yet, IF we straighten up and fly right… support our people,
Old age will be re-defined and Kupuna will be encouraged to continue to contribute to the world of work – well into their 70’s, perhaps 80’s. Likewise, a shift to emerging active aging programs, such as health-focused Blue Zones project, will prove beneficial to all.
Gen “Z” will have many more opportunities to learn at modest costs. Much of this learning will be online and will be augmented with the dedicated help of pensioned, older folks who will have the time and interest to actively mentor the most challenged of Gen Z’ers. And, by the way, the youngest among us will also mentor up to help Gen Y, X generations learn what they have to teach.
We will all learn to manage our work lives as our businesses – not as simply jobs! We will embrace lifetime learning, a term that, once-upon-a-time, was simply granted lip service. We will grow our careers, re-align our lives in line with our own changing interests and changing technologies, re-boot old interests and help others to succeed.
I want to share a little-known secret for improving your quality of life, achieving deep healing and radiant health… even living longer… and better.
It’s not a new super-food.
It’s not a new yoga practice.
And, it’s certainly not a new pill…
It’s your own consciousness.
Consciousness isthe “x-factor” behind deep healing, radiant health and living a long, productive life — even as you advance into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond!
Yes, health and longevity originate in human consciousness and finds expression in body, mind, heart and soul.
If you’re curious about WHY this is so and, more importantly, want to discover tools you can use to shape your health and happiness, connect with Dr. Marilyn Schlitz. Marilyn has been at the forefront of fascinating and game-changing work in consciousness research, integrative medicine, longevity and healing. She brings more than 30 years experience and study with leading-edge scientists, healers and shamans.
Receive a more complete picture of how healing really happens through consciousness
Discover the power of expectancy in creating pain and discomfort (and what you can do to shift it)
Recognize the importance of loving relationships in any healing process
Receive insights into the remarkable new findings that show you can consciously influence your genetics, as well as your endocrine and immune system
I invite you to join me for a mind-expanding hour on how to use the power of your consciousness for health and healing.
True holistic health is so much more than managing your weight and cholesterol and hoping for the best… Marilyn will show you how you can work with your consciousness to achieve a quality life. Register here
Disclosure: The link in this post is an affiliate, which means I receive a small commission if you clicknpick. Affiliate link or not, my promise is to only recommend and link to resources I believe will add value to your life and/or work.
Enough about the past; let’s talk about the future of work.
How, when and where will we work?
We are already working full-time, part-time, on-demand, temporarily, once-in-awhile… from home, from our car, a train, plane or automobile and from across town or across the world. We work for free, for a fee, for ourselves, for the good of others, for learning and/or for the fun of it! We gain-share, bargain or are paid an hourly rate.
The speed of change is accelerating. Within a year or two, few people will ask the question we are asking.
The more you have to offer the changed market, the more choices you’ll have to work in any – or all – ways we have just highlighted.
The more you prepare to meet the demands of change, the more adaptable you’ll be. The more you will be able to accommodate swiftly moving life circumstances and interests.
What are a few of the most recent changes that have affected how, who and where some of us will work in Hawaii in the near future?
First, take a look at the on-demand world and you’ll soon have help with everything from Spring Cleaning to furniture packing. Haven’t heard about the hundreds of on-demand companies in Hawaii? Take a look at how many home food delivery options are a short 808 call away. Want a glass of wine with your dinner? Google “home wine delivery – Honolulu.” Prepare to see well over 150 home delivery options. Your favorite food and wine will be on your table within 24 to 48 hours.
These, and many other firms are delivering services and goods in new ways that will affect you—including, how you work, where you might work, or… how you shop!
The tip of an iceberg of change is floating your way. Keep looking. A new option will emerge tomorrow or the very next day. We’ll keep you posted to many of the changes.
Speaking of changes… here’s one to watch: reasonably long-term jobs with a good company began to change in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. Such jobs are now only one way of working and if trends are to be believed, also diminishing in numbers.
The On-Demand, Hyper-Shift, Work from Anywhere Economy is here. Everyone is now a business – including you!
It’s time to learn how to run You, Inc.
But, it’s a bad idea to solo,
at least until you are ready to fly without a wing-man.
In our April 5th post, we introduced you to the new world of work, to “Freelancers,” or people who work on behalf of organizations when and wherever needed.
By 2020, according to a raft of experts, 40%+ of American workers will be “freelancers” in all sectors of the economy. Other experts predict the number may be as high as 50% by 2020.
Situation: This is the story of a real-life person. Our freelancer is someone who migrated from a dozen years of full-time work where he had been designated the “Employee of the Year” to being laid-off and forced to taste the painful and “Unexpected Freedom” of freelancing.
Goal: Although he submitted resumes for numerous full-time editorial and corporate communications positions, the response rate was low to non-existent. He was further encouraged to pursue freelancing by the lack of interest among prospective new employers, who tended to view his extensive experience and knowledge, not as an asset but as a negative option. Especially, when considered against hiring recent college graduates for a fraction of the salary, our story-teller felt he wanted or his experience deserved. He discovered the world of hiring in the new decade is not about experience and capabilities, but about casting ones portfolio within the needs of prospective clients. He learned to explore and market for this new business of freelancing.
Actions: He undertook face-to-face networking activities, while simultaneously expanding his LinkedIn profile and building a network of 500+ contacts. He accepted freelance opportunities that did not pay well, simply in order to gain experience. He began building a portfolio of work samples.
As time went by, he became adept at turning in quality work on tight deadlines, which drew the attention of new clients. Soon he landed two or three “anchor clients,” giving him a solid foundation of steady work at a respectable wage which, in turn, led to several large-scale web content projects.
By the end of his first year as a freelancer, he began to reap the benefit of client recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals.
Consequences: Our freelancer is now established in a successful freelance business. Not only does he have the comfort of working from home, his daily schedule allows time to play tennis and swim laps at his neighborhood club. He is no longer dependent upon a single company for his earnings, but instead works regularly for a wide range of clients – most of whom he has never met in person and with whom he stays in contact via various online modes of communications.
Lesson: Our freelancer learned the value of persistence by making strong use of online platforms and staying in touch with prospective clients. She has become adept at establishing his brand, at creating sales documents, at maximizing his profile on LinkedIn as well as at leveraging various social connections online as well as in person. He learned to set boundaries to client requests for uncompensated hours in order to prove his worth. Eagerness to work should not be over-used to extract uncompensated commitments or outcomes.
Credible experts predict that the workplace may be dominated by Freelancers in the next decade. Here’s a snippet, summarizing these predictions, from Thomas Frey (futuristspeaker.com).
“Virtually any company that cannot find ways to do things more efficiently and reduce costs will not survive. Business colonies are an organic process of matching labor to projects for the exact duration of the contract. No more, no less.”
Do you want to learn how to Freelance? Ask us for help!
The world is saying no to many traditional jobs these days. Take a look at the truth of Work. Ensure you have a Future of Work
No political party can promise you a job. At best, they attempt to create platforms that will encourage business success, thus (presumably) encouraging hiring.
No private sector organization will hire you full-time, if you’re not needed full-time.
No public sector organization or institution can afford to ignore their enormous pension debts by continuing to hire as they have in the past.
No large company is any safer, than any smaller company in terms of providing job security. The Fortune’s 100 companies (the largest employers) have had more than double the number of layoffs than non-Fortune’s 100 companies.
No, invention is not a birthright. New technologies have created thousands of new jobs, while causing the loss of thousands.
No end is in sight for the economic unrest that the world is facing. Economic unrest works for and against “jobs” in this country as elsewhere.
If pension-less workers do not continue to work, in some capacity, later in life, our economic system will be challenged to cope.
No, we cannot afford to overlook the aging of America. There are millions of Americans age 65 and older. Put this in perspective, in the United States there are more people 65 and older than in each of the entire Canadian and Australian populations. This demographic will double by 2030. More than 30% of the US workforce is 50+ years young.
No, the U.S. workforce is no longer competitive in the high-demand areas of mathematics and the sciences. Our children are fragmented into the haves and have-nots; our boomers are under-prepared for new massively disruptive challenges, retirement requirements and longer work lifetimes.
What are you willing to do to win your battle for the Future of Work? Will you find new ways to work? Can you see opportunities embedded within the many threats? Will you dare to do something different than experience dictates?
Join us now, fasten your space-suits, summon your reserve of courage for there are many, and often better, ways to work beyond the old world of the familiar. Let us tell you the stories of the pioneers of the future who have turned tomorrow’s threats into today’s opportunities!
According to my Native heritage, teachings and wisdom, recognition of Our ancestors, who’ve prepared the path of life for us, must be acknowledged. My teachers and mentors inspired me to leadership. Our relationships can include those with those who have gone before and those yet to come. Honoring and acknowledging those on whose shoulders we stand, connecting and communicating with our past and future, are fundamental practices of sustainable development. Me, you, we are all a bridge between the ancestors and those yet to come. Leadership from Learning is key.
My neighbor and longevity guru, Bradley Willcox, knows a thing or two about healthy aging. As a Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine he is fond of saying, “the intersection of healthy aging and technology is in the kitchen.” In other words, good bread is good medicine.
So, what does this have to do with a bread making machine?
“Healthy aging”, says Dr. Willcox means “aging with minimal chronic diseases and high physical and cognitive function.”
What about the ‘kitchen’ part of the equation?
“Food is medicine”, he told me. “It’s an Okinawan expression and it’s true.”
Does nourishing bread count as medicine?
“You bet,” he replied. “Americans eat a lot of bread and a lot of it is no good. Eating healthy bread made with whole grains is fiber rich and associated with a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, and better gut health.”
It was time, with technology, to make my own bread.
Why go to all this trouble? I’m a healthy-food fanatic and the bread available commercially is generally not all that good. Yes, there are some exceptions. For example the Breadshop on Waialae avenue does a remarkable job of producing healthful, delicious bread. At around $10 a loaf or more, it better be. But as they say, you get what you pay for.
So what about the part about making your own? Well it’s a helluva lot of work, unless of course, you have one of those new fangled bread making machines.
That brings us to the subject of this article.
My choice of bread maker, a PanasonicSDR2550, was hardly scientific. My neighbor, Ray Madigan, a yoga teacher, and retired nurse has owned a Panasonic bread maker for over 10 years and has been bragging about his bread for years. I finally tried a toasted slice.
That was all the empirical evidence I needed.
Panasonic’s latest model, the SDR2550 in my kitchen, is a high-tech device with20 pre-set programs which offers options to bake everything from French bread, brioche, sourdough to dense German style rye bread. It will also make gluten-free bread, cake, pizza dough and pasta dough.
I was primed. I purchased yeast, whole wheat flour, rye, etc. I got most of the ingredients on Amazon. You can presumably find it in town but as we all know, it’s easier to do things online, and despite the shipping, cheaper than a place like Whole Foods.
I preppred by reading through the manual and watched YouTube videos. The main thing they drum into your head is to use precise measurements and follow the recipes to the letter. They also insist that you add the ingredients in the proper sequence, i.e. yeast first, then flour, salt, water, butter, etc.
Everything is added to a little bucket type container with a paddle on the bottom that mixes and kneads the dough. There’s a tiny dispenser if you want to add nuts or raisons. Of course, this device also bakes the bread. There are heating elements, like in your oven.
Each recipe also has a corresponding menu setting on the LED control panel. You set the size of the loaf, crust shade and if needed, you can program when to begin the process.
I tried my first loaf and of course, broke a couple of rules.
My old-fashioned scale wasn’t exactly an atomic clock when it came to precision but evidently it was close enough. Panasonic prefers that you weigh the most of ingredients, but I found as long as the proportions were accurate, i.e. three cups of flour, the bread came out fine. (Erring on the side of caution, I later bought a digital scale. That said, I’ve had pretty good luck with recipes that offer the volume of the ingredients, ie one cup, one teaspoon, etc. rather than the precise weight in grams).
All the ingredients were added in the proscribed order, but I decided to add some buckwheat (not in the recipe) because I had some in the pantry, so I substituted some wheat flour for buckwheat.
I pushed the button, expecting the machine to start mixing things but nothing happened. I checked the manual again and was reminded that the device has a double sensor that adjusts for room and internal temperature to calculate how much time the dough needs to rise and rest.
It must warm up for about 30 minutes and the computer program takes it from there. (Someone had to write a lot of code for this item).
I experimented with another half dozen or so recipes. I even made whole wheat pizza dough.
Once you get used to this machine, all you do is add the ingredients and walk away.
How cool is that? It comes with recipes but there are also some available online. You can tweak the “formula” a bit but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t aways work (i.e., the bread doesn’t rise). If you stick to the recipe, chances are you’ll have good results.
Experimentation is laudable but just beware. What does this tell you? Baking bread is just as much an art as a science.
The downside? It’s about 16 x 8 x 12 so it will take up some room on your counter.
At $278 on Amazon, it isn’t cheap, but boy does it make good bread.
If you’re thinking of getting something healthy for your family this holiday season, you won’t go wrong with this appliance.
Editor’s note: A version of the story previously appeared in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Braiding someone’s hair shouldn’t make you an outlaw. But that’s exactly what can happen under Hawaii’s restrictive licensing laws.
I bring this up because I noticed the Institute for Justice, based in Arlington, Virginia, just released the third edition of its “License to Work” study, which looked at state regulations nationwide and concluded that occupational licensing laws are a barrier to entry, so to speak, for many people trying to find work, especially lower-income workers.
The new edition identified more than 2,700 different occupational licenses across the country and found that the average license requires a year of experience, $295 in fees and an exam — on top of hidden costs such as tuition fees for schooling.
Hawaii performed especially poorly in the nationwide comparison, with licenses being required in 64 of 102 lower-income occupations, versus the national average of about 53. It also had the highest level of qualifying burdens, leaving the state ranked fourth-worst overall for its occupational licensing scheme.
For example, to qualify for a license in Hawaii, the average number of days lost to someone trying to obtain the required education and experience is a whopping 972, compared to the national average of 350. The average fees associated with Hawaii licensing total $506, versus the national average of $284.
Knowing these facts, we can understand why occupational licensing disproportionately affects lower-income workers and small businesses — because it requires them to jump through numerous regulatory hoops before being able to practice their trade.
For people who are barely making ends meet, the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars and a year or more just to get permission to work can be an insurmountable hurdle.
Which brings us back to hair braiders, for which there is a niche market in Hawaii.
The usual rationale for onerous licensing restrictions is that they are necessary to protect public health and safety. That seems reasonable for occupations such as physicians and nurses. It becomes less convincing when the license involves applying makeup or shampooing hair.
When it comes to natural hair braiding — a skill that can be self-taught, is often passed down as part of a cultural tradition and is given little attention in traditional cosmetology schools — the state’s requirement that braiders spend 1,250 hours in school (at their own cost) seems absurd.
The punishment for not having a license seems equally absurd: An unlicensed hair braider, makeup artist or shampooer in Hawaii could be fined up to $100 a day or even jailed.
In Thursday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, attorney Jessica Poitras and writer Daryl James of the Institute for Justice explained that there is no data or experience showing that the licensing of niche beauty services protects public health or safety.
Hawaii’s state auditor has studied beauty industry licensing five times since 1980, each time concluding that the license is unnecessary. California and Texas have licensing exemptions for hair braiders, and there has been a nationwide trend toward delicensing shampooers and makeup artists.
“Overall, braiders may practice without a license in 32 states, makeup artists in 14 states, and shampooers in 18 states,” wrote Poitras and James. “Salon visitors remain safe in all of these jurisdictions. During the first 10 years after Mississippi delicensed braiders, for example, the state received zero complaints related to health or safety.”
Over and over, we hear Hawaii policymakers talk about the need to grow the economy and encourage small businesses. Yet, regulations such as occupational licensing only make it harder to succeed.
Instead, our lawmakers should look for ways to reduce barriers to employment and entrepreneurship. They could start by getting rid of license requirements for beauty services such as hair braiding, makeup application and shampooing.
For some occupations, a less restrictive form of oversight than a license — a simple exam or certification, for example — could be sufficient to ensure public safety.
In general, if we really want to help people get back to work, we need to reduce the time and money it takes to enter a profession. Or, to put it more simply, we need to just get out of the way. _____________
Keli‘i Akina is president and CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
Few things are as annoying and inconvenient as discovering you are wrong. Most people hate that, and feel being wrong is a type of failure. They get that from school and true or false questions, where answers were judged by experts who knew.
But over the years, those experts were proven wrong, time and time again. Evolution experts kept unearthing new, old bones, which buried old, fossilized theories. Astronomers discovered some new black hole that swallowed up some old truths about the stars. Medical researchers discovered some treatments were worse than the disease. Historians are now re-writing the facts of history, while psychologists are re-writing the facts of human sexuality. Meanwhile, social media is challenging all truths, leading to fact-checking by a shifty mainstream media and vested experts.
Establishing and maintaining the status of truth is big business. There is a truth industry, which includes media, public relations firms, academia, religious groups, the government, and more. Truth is power and a valuable commodity, and when you possess it you want to keep it and make sure nobody sullies it with some opposing truth.
The public, of course, wants truth, and is willing to pay for it. There is no end to experts who will take your money to sell you truth. They will tell you the truth about dieting, or vitamins, or exercising, or how to bake a perfect pie. Conspiracy experts will tell you that only they know the truth, and that makes them sound very much like doctors and lawyers, so you trust them.
This means all of us must fight Big Truth. It’s the belief that we finally have it all figured out.
Every generation wants to be smarter than the past. The problem is that babies continue to be born stupid, so we need to fill their heads with stuff we call truth. They will use truth as they go through life, trying to understand and manage the world they experience. Truth provides the assumptions about life and the world, and form the structural girders which support our understanding. Shake that, and there’s money to be made by new truth-tellers.
People want the mental security of a world defined by truths. They want to feel that the sun exists and will rise tomorrow, or they will not be able to sleep in the darkness. We all need to feel that the universe is real, that we can objectively understand it, and that truth is the product of reason. The problem is that we are flawed creatures with limited senses, possessing defective reasoning skills which are clouded by emotion, are easily distracted and fooled, are born without any knowledge of anything but how to suck, and are driven by savage instincts we share with other animals. This makes truth is as elusive as a unicorn.
The way we learn things is really by trial and error, with lots of errors. We humans are in the dark, stumbling around looking for something we can identify and hold onto. We try until we succeed, and then share the news with others, passing the information down to the next, ignorant generation. Humanity thereby constructs a sense of truth. But it is always a work in progress. We chronically suffer from truth decay.
We are currently living in a time when truth is on trial, being challenged by other truths. We are the jury, needing to listen to the arguments and decide. However, in our technical world, many truths are outside most peoples’ scope of education or understanding, so they take the word of experts. And since experts never like to be proven wrong, this enshrines the current truths for the term of the lives of the experts. New experts will dethrone and bury the old ones, and have to fight off the next generation of experts.
This all means that truth is fragile, much more than you would imagine. Our sense of certainty is a ploy to convince ourselves. But more people are opening their eyes to the truth that truth is not necessarily true. And this can be disturbing to the psyche, and make you have to rethink everything you thought was true, which can be a bother.
For those who want to hold onto their truths, here are 10 tips.
Stop thinking. You already know everything you need to know.
Close your mind to new ideas. An open mind can let the Devil in.
Keep in mind that ideas are really unimportant. You can live without them. Many people do.
Never question experts. They speak truth.
Only read things which agree with you. Everything else is false.
Avoid truth decay by daily brushing off people who don’t agree with you.
Burn books that push the anti-truth.
Remember that truth is something you must fight for. Some people just need a slap in the head to see it.
If someone discovers a new truth, it doesn’t mean you are wrong. It means they are conspiracy theorists.
Bug other people into agreeing with you. The best way to keep your truth is to make sure everyone else believes it, too.
In summary, truth can be as fleeting as a thought, or as stable as a dogma. It can be a guess we all came to believe, or it can even be a lie. Whatever truth is, it’s becoming more fragile. All we know for sure is that tomorrow’s truths will be different than today’s. That’s the truth about truth.
In a recent op-ed in Civil Beat, Robert Harris, who recently became the executive director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, mused about his role in the grand scheme of things. His first reaction was to describe his job as just enforcing the State Ethics Code and the Lobbying Law, but then saw a broader role for his agency as helping to restore public trust in government.
In his essay, he points to a couple of legislative proposals that, if enacted, would increase trust in government: clearer anti-nepotism rules, and increased financial transparency requirements in transactions involving legislators and lobbyists.
My answer to the same question would be simpler in theory but harder to put into practice. We need financial transparency in state government, period. We, as taxpayers who are supplying the money, have the right to see where it goes. In real time, not several years later as seen in one nonprofit’s recent fight with the Department of Education.
To get at corruption, you follow the money.
We’re not asking government to follow the money. We’re asking them to post their checkbooks online so interested people can do the work for them. If there are questionable findings, then maybe it’s worth government resources to figure out what happened so remedial action can be taken. This is what happened at OHA. Despite an initial reaction of wanting to shoot the messenger, cooler heads prevailed and OHA has made changes toward making sure that the same irregularities don’t happen again.
Is it feasible, or even possible, for a state to post its checkbooks? The national website Ballotpedia notes that a few states have already done it and has listed some of the issues that have come up in the process.
For example, there are privacy concerns. If Individual teachers are submitting expenses for reimbursement, for example, we don’t necessarily want their home addresses to become public fodder. The same is true for individuals receiving, for example, mental health services. We do have a constitutional right of privacy in this state, and we certainly don’t want to trample on that.
But the solution to the privacy issues is not to publish no data at all.
If, for example, an agency publishes name, zip code, amount, and some accounting code listing the purpose for the expense, maybe that’s enough for us to go on initially. Then we can do what CliftonLarsonAllen did for OHA, we see if there are any red flags. Is there a big wad of money being spent for “consulting“ or “miscellaneous“? then let’s see the work product that was bought by that expense. Are there multiple payments to someone known to be a relative of the agency heads, or to the agency heads themselves? Then let’s see further details.
These are not insurmountable problems.
Want to restore trust in government? Want to make it difficult for corruption to happen? We need to follow the money.
Let’s be honest. Everyone worries. You could be rich or poor, sick or healthy. If you’re a human, then you worry.
We worry about things happening that we don’t want to happen, such as losing a job, or your kid getting sick, or your spouse cheating. There is no end to things we don’t want happening, so there is no end to worrying, if you want to. People also worry about things not happening that they want to happen, such as winning a bet, or getting a date, or recovering from an illness. So people can worry about not getting what they want, or worry about getting what they don’t want, and the list is as endless as our imagination and wants.
Given all the energy spent worrying, you would think it payed lots of dividends. However, popular belief is that worrying doesn’t do any good. People will say those exact words to you when they see you worrying. They say that the outcomes you worry about are in your imagination only, and never come to fruition. And when everything turns out fine, despite your worries, they say, “I told you, you had nothing to worry about. It was all a waste of energy.”
That’s the myth about worrying. It’s that worrying never helps. The things you worry about never seem to happen. So stop worrying.
But what if things turned out fine simply because you were worrying? What if worry works?
Think about it. Whatever you worry about never seems to happens. This means that, if you don’t want something to happen, then simply worry about it, and it won’t!
The answer was right before our eyes. Worrying about something almost invariably insures that it won’t happen. In fact, worrying is a kind of insurance to make sure that whatever you are worrying about doesn’t happen.
If your kid is late from a date and you’re worried that they had an accident, then worry about it. Most likely, your child will come home fine. That doesn’t mean the worrying was needless. It means it worked!
Sometimes, of course, worrying about something can make you take precautions that can prevent a problem, which is another way worry works. For example, if you’re worried about finances, then you may go and change your job or lifestyle. Worry makes you focus on a problem and deal with it, as opposed to ignoring it.
Clearly, we all need to worry more. Here are some tips to make worry work for you.
Worrying takes lots of energy, so make sure you eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and get adequate amounts of sleep. When you worry you want to be able to obsess for hours, if not days, without having to take a rest. Keep in good shape to be prepared to worry at a moment’s notice.
Pick something to worry about that is completely out of your control, like the weather, natural disasters, and Elon Musk. That way, you don’t have to actually do anything, besides worry.
Try worrying with others. People like to hear others obsess and repeatedly worry out loud. When they hear you worry, it makes them feel better about their lives. So spread the cheer and share your worries with friends and family.
Worry as much as possible. The power of the worrying increases with its intensity. Deep problems require deep worry.
Worrying is hard to maintain for the average person beyond a few hours or days. If you feel overwhelmed by a problem, try to develop a back pain, headache, chest pain, skin rash, or amnesia as a conversion reaction. This gives you something else to worry about for a while, giving your other worries a rest. But don’t rest worries for too long, or their prevention powers might stop.
The biggest worry, of course, is about death. If this is your worry, realize that so long as you are worrying about death, you’re still alive. So keep worrying and you shouldn’t die.
So the next time you face a potential problem, worry about it. Worry a lot, and imagine how bad it could get. It’s the only way to make sure that it never happens.
Last month, the TreasuryDirect.gov website crashed as investors scrambled to lock in the historic 9.62% rate for the next six months on Series I savings bonds ahead of the Friday October 28deadline. Despite the $10,000 per person limit, nearly $ 1 billion in purchase orders and more than 70,000 new Treasury Direct accounts were established on October 28th alone. More than $30 billion in I-bonds have been purchased in the past 12 months. The Siren’s song of irresistibly high government-guaranteed, state tax-free interest is difficult to resist. Like many financial planners, I have been urging consumers to hop on the I-bond bandwagon.
However, the purchasing process has its pitfalls. Many personal finance articles have highlighted the fact that the Treasury Direct website is dated and difficult to navigate. Many have also cautioned consumers about potential delays resulting from issues with the identity verification system for establishing new accounts. Further, overwhelming demand has caused the Treasury to eliminate email support while the phone queue to speak with a live customer support representative is typically many hours long.
Byzantine Website and Understaffing Confound Savings Bond Buyers
While these issues have all made headlines, there is an even darker threat to consumers that has received surprisingly little media attention – the very real possibility that the Treasury will accept your money and never pay you back. This is not hyperbole. Consumers who may not have understood the rules for how to fund I-bond purchases and have over-contributed to their Treasury Direct accounts face the possibility that they may not ever get their money back. Unfortunately, I can illustrate the overcontribution example from personal experience.
On April 21, 2022, I established a Treasury Direct account with the intention of purchasing $10,000 for myself and $10,000 each for my two minor children. My plan was to transfer in $30,000 from my bank account and to then gift $10,000 to each child. However, when I processed the transfer, I immediately received a notice that I had exceeded the $10,000 annual contribution limit and that I could expect a refund of my $20,000 over-contribution in 8-10 weeks.
The message also stated that I will receive an email notification when the check has been issued. I then figured out that I needed to purchase the I-bonds one at a time for each child in my Treasury Direct account instead of purchasing first and then gifting. I followed the procedure, and transferred in an additional $10,000 for each child for a total of $50,000 transferred to purchase $30,000 of Series I savings bonds.
Red Flags that Your Money May Be Gone – No Records/Reporting, No Support
The first red flag that I might not get my $20,000 back was raised when I logged into my Treasury Direct account and discovered that there is absolutely no record of my over-contribution. The $20,000 overcontribution does not appear in the account activity or in the account. The only documentation I have is the lone email I received on April 21.
The second red flag went up when, after four months, my money had not yet been returned. On August 31, after weeks of recorded voice messages telling me that I will not be able to get through to customer support because the estimate hold times exceed the eastern standard time business hours for Treasury Direct employees, I got up at 6 AM in Hawaii and waited on hold for more than two hours before I eventually got through to a support representative. The woman who took my call was friendly and seemed knowledgeable.
She advised that Treasury Direct staff have been overwhelmed. However, she reassured me that overcontributions were being processed and that they were currently working on refunds to people who made the overcontributions in April. She went on to advise that because it had been longer than 3 months, I would earn interest on the over-contribution amount and that I should expect my refund check imminently. I was relieved.
It is now November 30th. It has been more six months since my over-contribution, and I have not received my refund. Earlier this month, I sent a summary of my experience along with documentation of my funds transfers and the original overcontribution email I received from the treasury. The communication was sent via certified mail. On November 10th, I received an automated email telling me to expect a response with 13 weeks.
The Treasury Direct Website is Eerily Similar to a Ponzi Scheme
I have not received any subsequent communication from Treasury Direct. While I have copies of my bank records showing the $50,000 transfer for the $30,000 purchases, I have zero confidence that the Treasury will ever give me my money back. Were a bank or brokerage firm to provide no reporting and/or prohibit consumers from accessing their funds, the institution would be put into receivership and the executives at the firm would likely be facing jail time. This is decidedly not the case with the Treasury Department.
What if I had needed that money to pay tuition or to make payments on debt? The notion that the Treasury can simply keep consumers’ money indefinitely with no reporting and no communication is unfathomable, but it is very real. I am sure there are myriad consumers in exactly the same boat. I-bond buyers beware!
Many financial and political experts (or people who say they are) are trying to make sense of the defeat of Honolulu’s Charter Question No. 1 in the general election earlier this month.
The charter question put before Oahu voters was whether the percentage of real property tax money that the city would deposit into the city’s Affordable Housing Fund should be increased from 0.5% of total property tax collections to 1%. The difference was estimated to be $8 million a year. The amendment failed, 129,097 against versus 120,770 for.
Some proponents of the measure, as reported by Civil Beat, noted that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay more in taxes under the amendment. They were wondering why taxpayers didn’t “get it.”
Well, sure, that particular measure by itself doesn’t affect how much property taxes people need to pay. Nor does it affect how much money is going to be spent on affordable housing. Rather, it is essentially a budgeting gimmick.
The Affordable Housing Fund is a special fund. We’ve spoken at length about special funds several times before. Basically, such a fund sidesteps the normal budgeting process because money in the fund is spent on the fund’s purpose without regard to anything else in the budget.
So, what happens if $8 million in property tax collections is diverted to the Affordable Housing Fund? There is a range of possibilities. On one end, suppose $8 million in general fund resources had been budgeted to affordable housing. With the diversion, the Council would be free to reallocate the $8 million from the general fund to other priorities, meaning that there would be no change in the amount of money going toward affordable housing – so the ballot measure accomplished nothing.
On the other end of the spectrum is that $8 million more is going to be spent on affordable housing, which is what the proponents of the measure presumably want. If there is no change in city revenues, then, there will be $8 million less to pay everything else that the City & County of Honolulu is responsible for. Given that the City’s operating budget totals $2.91 billion, $8 million, although not mere chump change, might be a small enough dent to be absorbed. Thus, the folks who are saying that this measure won’t raise taxes, or inevitably lead to raising taxes, do have a point.
But there is another point to be considered. We elect our City Council members to make sound budgeting decisions. Many different causes and programs compete for the tax dollars that you and I pay the government. Special funds, like the Affordable Housing Fund, take the decision out of the hands of the Council, giving it less flexibility to adapt to changing needs and conditions. Maybe one or a few special funds might not be hard to work around, but when you get to hundreds or thousands, as we already see at the state government level, putting together a budget can be a very complicated exercise.
And if one special interest group or constituency succeeds at establishing a dedicated pot of money or expanding the amount of resources that are fed to it, then what is to stop other special interest groups or constituencies from ramming through their own special funds to feed their pet projects? Again, we already see this happening now at the state level, so this possibility can’t be easily shrugged off.
Rather than contributing to a vicious cycle of enacting more and more special funds to sap our Council’s budgeting flexibility, we should just recognize, as the voters apparently did, that special funds are not the answer.
At COP27, a REUTERS story from William James, Valerie Volcovici and Simon Jessop framed climate change as battle for survival:
“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told delegates, urging them to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and speed funding to poorer countries struggling under climate impacts that have already occurred. . .
Despite decades of climate talks so far, countries have failed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and their pledges to do so in the future are insufficient to keep the climate from warming to a level scientists say will be catastrophic. . .
Land war in Europe, deteriorating diplomatic ties between top emitters the United States and China, rampant inflation, and tight energy supplies threaten to distract countries further away from combating climate change, Guterres said, threatening to derail the transition to clean energy. . .
Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible,” he said. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”
Climate change has been finally acknowledged as, perhaps the greatest threat confronting the sustainability of life on earth.
Wether or not the window for corrective change by human activity is still open is unclear. The environment is in free – fall. Critical patterns of elemental natural factors have been destabilized and the behavior driving these changes has stepped up rather than diminished.
The “leaders” whom we have entrusted to manage our welfare clearly . . . stunningly . . . operate on the mandates of their own egos, self interest and the profit driven industrial entities that put them in power and float them as stewards of their activities. Activities which are shaped exclusively by profitability and untempered by collateral damage to the host environment . . . the platform upon which all life takes place.
Right / wrong, good / bad are misplaced sentiments that play into the situation with absolutely no power. This is simply the way it is.
The only “success” in nature is the ability to adapt and survive against a background of ever changing conditions, i.e. to evolve. In this, the arena of true success or failure, we are clearly on our own, as individuals, with the ability to take responsibility for our own lives and actions.
The search for answers, leads only to choices. The only instrument that we have to guide us in making successful choices appears to lie within us . . . our connection to nature . . . to the unfolding totality.
This connection is basic . . . energetic and manifests, not intellectually but as feelings.
We are on our own.The environmental collapse that we have set in motion is no longer merely sending a signal. The wake-up call has escalated to a blaring, continuous alarm that mandates choices. Our actions are our choices. They are irrevocable and final. It’s up to you.
It has become difficult to continue upholding the view that the world is our gift to use as we please and that we are the ordained wardens and managers of the planet . . . monopolizing and consuming everything, reflexively exterminating anything else that we see as competition for what we are deluded into believing has been placed on the table solely for us.
Again, not a matter of right or wrong, good or bad . . .
It is simply a perspective that does not work and results in the path to extinction that we find ourselves on now.
It’s up to you.
Everything is connected in the living connective tissue of nature.
One of the most information-packed episodes of “Hawaii Together” I’ve ever seen aired this past Tuesday on the ThinkTech Hawaii, and I wasn’t even a part of it.
It was hosted by my Grassroot Institute of Hawaii colleague Joe Kent, who was sitting in for me because I was representing the Institute at a conference in New York City.
Joe’s guest was Nolan Gray, research director of the housing advocacy group California YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard), who made the case for abolishing zoning.
Yes, abolishing zoning.
When I had the chance later to watch the interview, I thought Gray’s position was highly provocative, but also highly persuasive, grounded firmly in data, history and sound economic reasoning.
Aside from his affiliation with California YIMBY, which has had success in liberalizing zoning laws in California, Gray’s credentials include being a former city planner in New York City, a doctoral student in urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of the new book “Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It.”
Gray said the problem with zoning is that it doesn’t just designate areas as “residential,” “industrial” or “commercial”; it also micromanages every single lot in a city or county, determining precisely what is allowed and what is forbidden — including how big the lots must be, how high buildings can be, what a structure’s floor area must be, what kind of homes can be built, what kinds of commercial or industrial uses are allowed, how many parking spaces are required, and on and on.
If you doubt what Gray is saying, take a look at the 60-plus pages of Chapter 21 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu. Or look at the Honolulu City Council’s Bill 10, which takes up more than 230 pages in an effort to “update” Chapter 21. The amount of regulatory minutiae in both is astounding.
Gray also wants people to be aware of zoning’s nefarious origins. Most people think its purpose, as stated in Honolulu’s Chapter 21, is to “encourage orderly development.” But actually, zoning originated as a way to implement racial and economic segregation.
In Berkeley, one of the first cities to adopt it, zoning was used to keep Chinese laundries out of certain neighborhoods. Even after the Supreme Court put a stop to the explicit use of zoning for racial segregation, the practice continued in a more subtle way.
“What you get in the aftermath of that is that a lot of cities scramble to pursue that type of segregation but through other regulatory means,” said Gray. “What you get instead are these rules that say, ‘Well, we’re not segregating the city based on race, but you have to earn at least enough money to afford a detached single-family home to live in this neighborhood. In this neighborhood, you need to have a 10,000-square-foot lot. In that neighborhood, you need to have a half-acre lot. In this neighborhood over here, we’ll allow apartments to be built.’”
But even when the motives behind it are pure, zoning still is socially disruptive, pushing up prices by limiting what can be built and adding design requirements “that don’t really serve any health or safety function, but do dramatically increase the cost of housing.”
There also are all the permits, environmental reviews and other requirements that can add years to the time it takes to build new housing. In some places, zoning is so strict that nearly every project requires some type of special permission or variance.
Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that many homebuilders find themselves building mansions on large lots rather than smaller, multiunit homes — as has been happening in Hawaii.
Gray said the message of zoning is that, “‘We’re not legally going to allow you to build that cheaper, more affordable housing typology. We’re not going to allow you to build those extra units. We’re going to force you to build the more expensive product — if we allow you to build anything at all.”
Gray described zoning as a “straitjacket” that restricts the way cities can grow and adapt. Worse, rather than preserving the character of a community, zoning undermines it.
“In so many of these cities where they’ve essentially blocked all growth, the character didn’t stay the same. In fact, the character gets dramatically different. It becomes much more expensive, much more exclusionary, the type of place where young families have to move away, the type of place where retirees have to move away when they want to downsize.
“To my mind,” Gray said, “… the places where you preserve character are the places where you allow the city to continue to grow and adapt and reflect changing needs over time.”
Gray said zoning reform should focus on getting rid of the most restrictive rules, like lot-size minimums, single-family zoning and parking mandates. In the long term, however, he said we should reconsider zoning entirely.
As an example, he pointed to Houston, the only American city without zoning. He said Houston’s experience demonstrates that zoning laws aren’t necessary to keep industrial and residential uses separate. The problem has been addressed efficiently and without government interference.
Gray emphasized he is not against city planning, just the excessive micromanaging of land use reflected in modern zoning.
Getting rid of zoning, he said, would free up planners to focus on more important issues, such as infrastructure, traffic and the environment.
“Increasingly,” Gray said, “folks from all sides of the ideological and partisan spectrum are realizing, ‘Hey, the status quo doesn’t work. The rules that we have in place have really perpetuated a housing crisis and limited opportunity and limited mobility for folks.’”
I was very impressed by Gray’s arguments and observations. I agree with him that more people need to understand how zoning laws are the main obstacle to affordable housing.
He said there is a growing movement to end zoning’s stranglehold on our cities, and I hope he is right. At the very least, we need to radically reform Hawaii’s zoning laws and bring city planning and development into a new era. __________
Keli‘i Akina is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
Editor’s Note: Filmmaker and Hawai’i creative, Connie Florez, has been a local fixture for years in the digital media world. I ran into her at the Hawai’i International Film Festival and was interested to hear her take on where the Hawai’i’s film space is headed and, what she liked at HIFF. (You can see my recent HIFF picks too).
I sat down with her recently for this interview.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background as a creative in the digital media space? How did this journey begin?
I’ve been making movies for almost three decades! I seriously I love filmmaking out of a love for movies since growing up with a mom that completely loved taking our station wagon of 6 other siblings and myself to the DRIVE-IN and movies. I loved art in high school and fine arts in college. I found myself in my 20s working in engineering field and going back to college for the thirst to knowing more on how things work. Only to always come back to the arts even while working in engineering for 7 years.
Then I found myself in management again and returning to film by 1995 with the Executive Director for the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation for the next 15 years that is the umbrella for the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. That was the beginning of working and producing my first film in 1998 with a rag tag group of indie media makers over the next 3 years. I found myself staying on track with starting Hula Girl Productions LLC by 2003.
Since then, I have worked in the areas of Producing, Line Producing, Development & Marketing, Directing, Assistant Directing, Director of Photography, Production Manager, Casting, Location Management through Post-production and Distribution. Being an indie filmmaker is an endless journey of learning on a daily basis.
I met Bruce Cohen (producer for American Beauty 1999) at a LA based OUTFEST Film Festival. Bruce instilled in me during our conversation about his experiences in media. My biggest take away from that afternoon was that as media makers we can never ever stop being teachable.
Media constantly changes and once you say you got or you don’t need others. you have just lost your way and career growth just stops. I stay the course to consistently keep learning and growing as a better filmmaker, one day at a time. My fire has been to support stories that I have a passion for in life, stories that can change humanity towards a better place here on earth.
Q: HIFF has always been a kind of watering hole for creatives around the Pacific Rim? What impact do you think HIFF has had on the local digital media space?
The best thing about HIFF is the bridge from U.S.A. to the Pacific Rim and Asia. Therefore, the responsibility is huge for HIFF as the bridge. Hawaii is the most diversified state in the U.S.A. That says a lot. The space HIFF provides for local digital media has become more like a responsibility or kuleana in HIFF. In the last 10 years we have Hawaii Women in Filmmaking founded by Vera Zambonelli; HFC-Hawaii Filmmakers Collective, founded by Kainoa Rudolfo and Tom Schneider; and we have Ohina which began over 20 years ago as a film festival to now being an incubator lab for media makers. All three have become incubator labs for media makers.
All three of these are now working with the Hawaii State Film Office (DEBDT) which is directed by Georja Skinner with her amazing vision of creating the Hawaii State Creative Lab Hawaii. It’s the Sundance of the Pacific and works at supporting indie filmmakers from Hawaii with the resources and training for telling stories in all genres. This has been the breakthrough for filmmakers in Hawaii. Pacific Islanders in Communications – National PBS Consortia also participates with the Creative Labs. It has been a win-win and continues continues to grow.
The infrastructure of indie filmmaking in Hawaii is immersive and growing and it truly is a fellowship of Hawaii based filmmakers. 25 years ago I found myself going back and forth to SF and LA and NYC to learn and grow as a filmmaker from those organizations, festivals, workshops and markets on the mainland. Now Hawaii has it here in the state! That is a beautiful thing to see and to be a part of the growth.
Q: Did a local film catch your attention during the most recent HIFF? Perhaps something evocative of a future trend?
Two films that total caught my attention:
Po’ele Wai by Tiare Ribeaux (Director/Editor), Lenape Creative Group’s Sebastian Galasso (Producer/Co-Writer) and Jody Stillwater (DP/Producer). Blew so many of us indie filmmakers away.
E Malama Pono Willy Boy written by Nani Ross and Scott Kekama Amona. Excellent edit and story. Mano – shark animated short was another amazing work from Hawaii.
Q: UH West Oahu just opened a new ACM program which interesting coincided with HIFF this year. Do you think the University can play a bigger role in expanding the industry?
Definitely ACM and HPU film schools can play a larger role in expanding the industry. I’ve taught for several years as an adjunct lecturer for ACM and know the power of teaching and mentoring. Students working as interns and mentorship programs are the backbone to learning. Now with the non-profits that have indie filmmakers thriving this is the best place for these college students to learn the next level of creative storytelling. Some will work as interns in television industry, some will do both indie and tv and some will go in multimedia. It is really the greatest time in Hawaii to be an indie media maker. The opportunities are endless now.
Q: What can the state do to move the industry forward?
The State is always working on improving the film industry. Even when you think they aren’t…trust me they are always working at improving it and the movers and shakers are deeply investing their lives in supporting the future filmmakers of Hawaii. Some new areas are establishing a tax credit for Hawaii based filmmakers with a min budget of $100k for micro-budget movies.
They have cut it in half from the $200k minimum. That is a lot and offers a leg up. Also, the last couple of years is a push to provide funds that offers grants to Hawaii Based Filmmakers for projects. Several ideas are on the table on how to do it with our Hawaii Sate Film Office director Georja Skinner at the helm. We also have the co-op for filmmakers as well at the Sandbox in Kaka’ako. These are all from our State Film Office Director.
Q: Where do you see local digital media going?
Growing more in the area of Producing and mentoring so media makers can know the pitfalls and grow as filmmakers. So much to learn and so much to teach in real world life of media. I’m still learning always. I sincerely want to support filmmakers with the right tools to be successful. That is where the foundation of filmmaking needs to grow. More mentoring and always staying teachable.
Q: What are your current projects?
The Glades Project is a feature documentary and passion project about the famous Hotel Street night club the Glade Show Lounge with Prince Hanalei and Brandy Lee. PIC is currently funding Production finishing funds. I’ve carried this project since 2002.
Waikiki the film, we are now reviewing several options for distribution. We just developed a team to carry that through so more people around the world can see it soon.
Hood Dragon by Ogin Productions is currently greenlit by Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. So development process is happening now and we have an indie Hawaii team on board to travel to Georgia. African American and Asian Pacific Islander movie.
Yasuke- Soul of the Sword by Ogin Productions is one of Connie’s projects in development
7000 Miles is in post-production by Alixzandra Dove Rothchild. Feature film project
Dead Season II is in post-production Directed by Adam Devoe/Fairai Richmond.
Fluxx is in final production and to post-production directed by Brendan Gabriel Murphy.
Q: Any advice you have to up and coming creatives?
Know who your audience is and how to reach them. Know how to get your story to your audience and build a team that is willing to do the long haul marathon run with you. It takes a village to make a movie and it takes that same village to finish it all the way through distribution. Allow yourself to stay teachable and you will always be a leader.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add on the current digital media space in Hawaii?
If you are a writer, director, DP, animator, storyteller, lighting or creative then participate in the organizations I listed above and you will be amazed how others will help you in your vision.
If you want to produce and support the production team, always learn all that you can hands on. The best way to direct or manage others is know how to walk in your teammates shoes. So learn the jobs hands on. They will respect you more for knowing their jobs to your best ability. Producing and learning from development to production to post-production and distribution is huge and makes you the best support for any indie filmmaking team. It is a lifetime of learning and curve balls are always being thrown at you. Know who you are working with and how to navigate the territory are the biggest lessons as a producer.
When I was in engineering school my calculus professor said something that I will never forget…You will never use these formulas in the real world; what I am here to teach you is different ways to find solutions. When my professor said that my eyes opened up and the path suddenly got easier to comprehend. I found myself solving page long solutions differently than others in class with the same answers. The method wasn’t always the same but isn’t that true in life and in producing. Really what I did in engineering school and in managing people and in the arts has all come down to one simple way of working and living.
As a Producer I am always solving problems every minute throughout the process of making movies from the time I receive and idea to a script in development to distribution. There are so many pitfalls and so much corruption and stealing Intellectual Property and damaged lives in filmmaking. I’ve seen it firsthand right in our state of Hawaii and abroad. Staying the course in taking the high road is so much better. It is all about finding the solutions that can be comprehended and tangible for the team and those I work with on any project. Most importantly to have the integrity to do it with strong values and ethics as a producer.
So vital in our human behavior and malama pono can’t be expressed in a better way than how you live life.