By Lowell L. Kalapa
|One of the most disturbing facets of life here in paradise is the marked propensity for voters to speak in hushed tones about their government.|
If speaking out and calling it as one sees it begs reprisal and retribution, then is it any wonder why businesses and individuals are afraid to voice their views
| What is even more disturbing is that businesses also tend not to speak up or complain whereas on the mainland, it seems that it is the business community that consistently calls upon government to justify its actions.
Unfortunately, it appears that it is a way of life here in Hawaii that voters, taxpayers, and just plain old citizens are afraid to speak their minds because there is the fear of retribution, be it in the form of public castigation or silently as reflected in the inability to get that permit or zoning approval from state or county government. While public officials always seem shocked or else they vehemently deny that such reprisals take place against those who would question, the fact of the matter is that it does happen.
And it is not limited to public officials. A doctor who shared a return trip from the neighbor island said that his supervisor in the hospital would never let him write a letter to the editor because his institution might not get certain contracts or they might lose one they currently hold. An architect at a conference attended over the weekend noted softly that if he spoke up, his firm certainly wouldn’t get any state or county contracts.
And so it is because Hawaii is such a “small” community where anyone who “steps out of line” is immediately punished for doing so, that businesses and individuals refrain from criticizing what they see as being wrong with their community. Therefore, while the business community can be held partly responsible for the current financial crisis faced by government because they didn’t blow the whistle when government started to grow too large, in another sense, how can one “blame” those businesses?
If speaking out and calling it as one sees it begs reprisal and retribution, then is it any wonder why businesses and individuals are afraid to voice their views. That is totally understandable. On the other hand, this is supposed to be a democracy where the freedom of speech is one of most coveted rights and privileges of being an American. The right to dissent, whether it be on a matter of a debate or it be burning the flag, is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
We deserve what we allow our elected officials to do when we don’t speak up. So what are you going to do about it?
| As a result, the very people who should be holding government accountable are cowering in the corners of a dark room, or else they are fawning all over those elected officials to insure their good standing. In every other community in the nation, it is the business community that stands up and says: “You know what senator? You have no clothes on!” In Hawaii the business community gets up and says: “Nice hairdo!”
Perhaps it is the culture that prevents people from being confrontational. Perhaps it is indeed that fear of retribution. But in any case, this reticence of calling it like we see it has gotten this economy in deep kim chee. Instead of blowing the whistle when state government spending went over the spending limit, businesses helped themselves to the trough. Instead of screaming murder when the size of the government payroll grew at twice the pace of the private sector, businesses had their hands out for part of the action.
Well, it has now come home to roost. And despite the fact that to a person, everyone will admit that government is too large, elected officials are unwilling to make the necessary downsizing. Meanwhile the business community stands by, not saying a word about downsizing. We deserve what we allow our elected officials to do when we don’t speak up. So what are you going to do about it?