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From our Reader Feedback form (author’s name not always available):

Getting along in Hawaii is nearly impossible

Feb. 18 — We can’t. Too many people have a “mine, mine, mine, me, me, me” mindset. Meaning the first thing they think of is “what’s in it for me?” or “what do I get?” Replace the “I” with “we” when speaking of groups. Many people will deny this but it is true. Back in the day the mindset was “how can I/we help?” without thinking about rewards. Not anymore. Take the TMT issue for an example. The protesters keep saying that they aren’t being heard when in fact they are. TMT, the state and the county have all made sacrifices, changed plans, changed designs, increased donations, increased rents, and increased school funding but because the protesters are not seeing the benefits for them personally they refuse to acknowledge that they were heard. The worst part about today’s mindset is that if other people don’t agree with you then they are automatically your enemy. I have no solution for this problem because the only solution is so far fetched that we would need a miracle. Everyone would need to take responsibility for their own actions. Stop blaming other people for their problems. And for crying out loud, understand that Hawaii is a state of America once and for all. Stop dreaming of a romanticized version of what it was like to live in the Hawaiian Kingdom and what it would be like today. I guarantee it would not be pretty.

Selected comments from “Four Future Governors Say They Fear For Our Future,” Feb. 18:

Nice to hear from the Governors. A timeline of transition from old plantation to new plantation. Neil’s comment about entrepreneurial politics, fracturing of the democratic party in the wake of an uncertain future and governor Waihee’s sense of the shifting sentiments in the Island about development seem spot on. We are at the end of the Trainter curve in using development and tourism as economic engine and the returns (environmental, social, economic) are in a diminishing curve. We are an Island, always will be, maybe the young Hawaiian’s see some logic that for a 1000 years life was lived in balance — yes, sometimes brutal but sustainable. As governor Waihe’e noted there is a change in sentiment here among the young. They are radical like Neil but in a different direction — the land, the culture and small communities you can trust. Development and selling off Hawaii is an exhausted vision for them. How do we join them in a new vision or do we just keep selling. — JM

• Hawaii is becoming a society of upper class and lower class and the middle class is disappearing under unbearable burdens of regulation and taxation. That seems to be a shared opinion of these former governors. I agree. Further, our future leaders are (wisely) bailing out for the mainland where they can provide a better standard of living for their families. Rich/poor – history suggests a society divided like this usually doesn’t last. — CatManapua

• I lived in Hawaii from 2003-2018. Much had changed and not for the better. Rising cost of living to be the main issue. With that said, as long as Hawaii is a UNION run state and a one party (political) state, its headed to a major economic correction. Its unfortunate that unions dictate who gets elected in that those elected dictate who gets various state/fed contracts. Meanwhile, the people of Hawaii suffer. Another killer is the Jones Act that needs to be revisited and repealed…but won’t as long as the unions run the state! — AlohaGone

• Nicely done scholarly examination of Hawaii’s political evolution past to present. What is truly demoralizing is that any solutions to the current state of affairs relies on existing political institutions or that an enlightened group of individuals will enter the political morass and hopefully effect positive changes. The future reality looks bleak indeed. — Incredibles2

• Mahalo, Governors Quinn, Burns, Ariyoshi, Waihe’e, Cayetano, Lingle, Abercrombie, and Ige for the revolution that continues to raise the quality of our lives in a world that’s rapidly changing. You realized that stopping time and returning to a mythical past is not an option and that our single hope is our ability to compete in a world that’s becoming increasingly connected and competitive. Wisely, you placed your faith and efforts into public education, working for the future of our keiki. My peers and I, of all races, were poor at the start of the revolution, and, today, we’re part of a solid middle class. Our keiki are educated and competing against the best in the world and winning. Some haven’t been able to keep up, and in the spirit of aloha, you’ve made sure that they’re not left behind. Yes, we have problems, but our leaders today and tomorrow will solve them. Hawaii is the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold is the aloha that we share with one another and the world. Imua! — kimo808

It’s interesting that these governors, who’ve been on the inside and know a thing or two, share the same sentiments many of us are feeling. I’m 4th gen. and the future of Hawaii does not give me hope. I’m one that moved away for school and growth but returned to be near family and be home. However, it doesn’t feel quite like home anymore. The past 10yrs especially has brought about rapid change not for the better. Wealth inequality, a shifting demographic, crime, etc. Add on top of that the impending impact of climate change on our islands. I’m not hopeful of the future for my kids in Hawaii and I can foresee us growing old somewhere else. BTW, shout out to Uncle Ben’s luscious hair. — JSA

This is a most amazing article that takes us on a hike through modern history with the governors leading us to the present day. The pictures are priceless. Thank you, Ms. Downey. What I find disturbing is that these leaders have dumped us at the gates to what they refer to as a “fearful future” for us. As if they had no responsibility, that they were merely conductors on a rail that had a preordained destination, and we bought our own tickets. How do they avoid their culpability, when leaders set the tone and direction of government that has allowed the status-quo to make such a mess that the citizens have lost faith in their leaders? As a citizen, I don’t excuse our fault in repeatedly electing representatives that allowed corruption to fester, blighted development, increasing taxation with less services, but to steer a better course for the islands, we need to be honest. Starting with our elected officials past and present. — Joseppi

• Great article! I actually had no idea or interest in our ex-political leadership’s backgrounds and stances, but taking the time to read this gave me insight on how Hawaii was shaped. While out of office, their perspective are still highly valuable and continue to raise important questions. — marcivan

Four Governors Portraits Paintings Capitol
The portraits of Hawaii governors hang in the governor’s office at the State Capitol. From left, George Ariyoshi, John Waihee III, Ben Cayetano and Neil Abercrombie. 

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