On compromise, meeting in the middle and litmus tests

Much has been said about the need to compromise, about the need to “meet in the middle” and that there should not be “litmus test issues.”

I beg to differ.

Yes, it would indeed be nice if we lived in a world where everyone put the greater good of the community and the planet first, but unfortunately that is not the case. In the world of policy and politics, people mostly fall into one of two categories. Either they conduct themselves in a “survival of the fittest and every man for himself” mindset, or work from a perspective that “we are all in this together, and we are our brother’s keeper” value base.

While there are shades of gray that cloud the boundaries and overlap that occurs between these two perspectives, these two positions seem to represent the primary values base upon which most people approach the table.

Meeting a profit centered corporation who is causing harm to people and the environment “half-way” when representing the public trust is difficult and sometimes unconscionable.

How much harm to people and the environment is acceptable, and what price must the corporation pay for the right to cause the harm?

How many jobs does it take to offset one child’s birth defect, or reoccurring asthma among a neighborhood community for that matter? How many jobs does it take to offset the pollution of a coastal waterway caused by the industry that creates those jobs?

We need elected officials willing to say NO and who recognize that compromise is not always the best strategy.

Yes, compromise is often a necessary part of reaching solutions between competing interests, but this should not be the default position of those charged with protecting the public interest.

Corporations and others in positions of power and wealth are constantly at the public policy and government entitlement table pushing to gain an advantage, and increase their profits. This is how the world works when it comes to the intersection of government and free enterprise.

We need elected officials whose default position is a willingness to push back against the power and influence, rather than simply roll over under the guise of compromise.

There are many issues and values that for me anyway do in fact represent litmus test issues when it comes to evaluating those in government leadership positions. Supporting international corporate interests that cause harm to health and the environment on a global scale is one such litmus test, regardless of how many jobs they claim.

Supporting large landowners in circumventing the public process in order to fast track their own land development interests is another deal breaker for me.

The litmus test list for me is long actually and includes those politicians unwilling to disavow the policies and positions of the NRA and those who do not support equal rights and equal treatment for all people.

In each of the above examples, the interest groups that benefit from government actions have invested heavily in the political process. In some cases, the elected officials responsible for regulating an industry are employed by companies within that same industry.

In a small community, the impact of corporate donations to local charities, schools and sports teams wields significant political influence as well. Direct campaign contributions are of course also an important part of the financial influence mix.

Anyone who believes that there is a level playing field and that our elected leaders should be sitting at the table and attempting to meet these corporations and wealthy power players halfway, has clearly never endured that experience.

For starters, those holding the reins of power and money set the parameters to determine what “half-way” really means. They have legions of marketing people whose job it is to “frame the narrative” and thus manage the discussion. The question from industry to government is never framed as a yes or no, but rather the yes is assumed and it is only about “How much can we get?”

And as an elected official, who will be joining you at the table? Try to visualize this for a moment. Sitting next to you will be an elected colleague employed by the industry (expected to set aside his bias in favor of the public interest), and across from you will be another representative of the industry (who officially represents the industry but professes love of the community as well).

Advising you will be government agency people (planners, attorneys etc) who one day will likely seek to be employed by these same industry interests. Advising the industry will be former government agency people who now have that job the existing agency person will one day be seeking. Truth.

Those serving in public office are elected to represent and protect the interests of the people, and not the interests of the corporations and our own little oligarchies here in Hawaii. In an election year especially, they need to be reminded of that.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Charlie Chimknee February 28, 2018 5:43 am Reply

    Aloha Mr. Hooser, may we come to the conclusion that you are speaking at least of the agricultural chemicals used too liberally by the seed corporations, especially on the west side of the island, but also, and apparently, the also reckless use of poisons by homeowners and businesses for every little irritant caused by bug, microbe, or critter.

    And let’s not forget, the artificial carcinogenic petro-chemicals mixed into the the island’s soils and eventually leached via the streams and rivers into the ocean, reefs, and marine environment.

    And some time not long ago a neighbor said he was at a union meeting where a spokesperson for one of the seed companies spoke and informed (imprinted) the union members that the kids who collapsed at school on the west side and were hospitalized, did not get sick from the overspray of the poisons used on the seed crops in the fields nearby that day.

    The union members were told that the cause of the children’s collapse was caused by the school janitors who failed to clean the top of the doors of the classrooms. That’s convenient, blame the janitors, are they union members too?

    Funny too, well not funny at all, how the kids on the west side all chose to collapse on the same day. What a coincidence; after the poison spraying had begun!

    Are we to assume that the school shootings in the mainland were also a coincidence that all those kids died the same day.

    Mr. Hooser, you got some of us thinking about about government officials and elected representatives compromising with the giant chemical corporations. Here’s another chunk of chicanery about what goes on, on a large scale.

    On an educational TV program documentary a while back, the program was very informative.

    It goes like this, a group of higher up scientists looks into why 27 states in the USA are allowed to allow chemical corporations in their state to manufacture restricted banned petrochemical agricultural poisons that are not allowed to be sold or used in the USA.

    How they get around the law is that the USA laws after allowing the manufacture of banned poisons, then allows these chemical companies to sell these banned agricultural poisons to foreign countries.

    The foreign countries in turn use the poisons on the food crops grown in their country without any restrictive laws to stop them from using our banned chemicals in their own country.

    The USA food giants then buy those food crops back from those foreign countries, the very foods that were grown with the condemned poisons made in the USA, these poisoned food / crops are then brought to the USA and distributed directly to the public as fresh produce or used in the manufacture of processed foods found on the shelves of our supermarkets, convenient stores, and some restaurants.

    I used to trust the big and little stores as to what I was eating; and of course the store workers are not aware of the poisons put in the stores by those higher up in the food chain who we trust(ed) and respect(ed). And for us consumers a sprayed fruti or vegetable looks the same sa food not sprayed. So are we gonna tell the difference. Well we cant tell the difference, we need to be warned; unless of course you like poison.

    Why are there all these unnatural chemicals in the environment, in and on our foods, our crops, our water, our medicines, and even our clothes (polyester), and all plastic?

    Well, the chemicals, thanks to the so called “miracle” of modern chemistry are almost all exclusively made form oil…petroleum…they are petro-chemicals.

    Why is there such incredible massive uses of these petrochemicals today? Why? Because they are so ridiculously easy and cheap to manufacture. A few gallons of oil, or buckets of coal tar or oil shale, or other sources of petroleum, can make an enormous amount of medicines (usually with extraordinary, even lethal, side effects), or made into agricultural poisons. and the list goes on…name a plastic you use…yep it’s from petroleum. a few gallons of oil can make in some cases thousands of dollars in medicines. What a markup it’s like street drugs; but they are illegal.

    And guess what, oil based things, i.e., things made from petroleum are carcinogenic for humans. That’s right they cause cancer. What’s a little cancer when your corporation can make billions of dollars in products. But do not educate the public or the workers, it’s just not good for business.

    All these chemical poisons, in the air, on the ground, in the streams and water table, in the ocean, on and in the reefs, and marine environment as well as the thousands of God’s other creatures that are impacted, including the humans, ignorantly made to ingest these chemicals. There is no amount of caution that can protect us from poison. That’s because poison is poison.

    All these poisons are being used just to DISALLOW sharing our food with tiny bugs, microbes, and critters (like rodents that are big enough that they could be captured and dealt with). Does it really matter that there’s a few bug bites on your food, compared to cancer causing chemicals. If you had the choice of poison vs a few bug bites, what would you choose. Remember prior to the 20th century, i.e., the 1900’s, these poisons were few and far between and humans did share their “clean” food with natures “bugs”…and there were no epidemics of sickness. It was natural and people were used to it and accepted it. Why is nature so condemned today, it’s like nature has been condemned to death.

    Mr. Hooser talks about the litmus test…how about we set up a table outside one of our hospitals on island and have our own “Litmus Test”, and place on a table about a dozen of the most common and popular agricultural and household poisons; and as well bottles of pure Kauai water.

    Line up many of the islands doctors,especially pediatricians and obstetricians and all the Kauai elected officials, as well as the heads of, spokespersons for, and supervisors, and field workers of all the seed and chemical companies on the island, as well as invite any interested citizens wanting in on the experiment, along with the heads of the Hawaii Health Dept.; and all the island’s high school student body officers, parents of the children poisoned on the west side, and bring too the people from the westside with unsolved causes of their cancers, and bring the well known and respected lawyers and Judges; and all the poison naysayers who write into the Garden Island making good comments and Letters to the Editor with good things to say about the poisons.

    Bring all these people forward, and line them up for a drink of their choice, diluted to the same potency of when the poison is sprayed…and let them choose their glass of poison, even diluted to what they prefer, so long as it is a fair amount of poison, let them choose poison or pure water.

    And let’s keep a score of choices…poison or water…or even lets have a spray bottle there and let the contestant candidates eat some poison sprayed apples, or starfruit, etc.

    Let them put their brains where their mouths are. At least we will know who to vote for and appoint next time around. You be the judge…actually it will be an IQ test at the same time.

    We could also reward the poison drinkers with $20 per glass of diluted poison they consume.

    We mean if you won’t drink the poison why would you allow it on or in your food?

    That’s a Litmus Test for the brave or stupid vs. the cautious. Who do you want elected, the brave and stupid (reckless), or the cautious people looking out for your health?

    Here is another challenge or “Litmus Test”. Let’s not allow doctors to prescribe prescription drugs, and lets not allow any stores to sell over the counter drugs. You see almost all medical drugs are made from petroleum and are carcinogenic.

    If the doctor or store cannot prescribe or sell drugs your doctor or pharmacy or store may have nothing for you. In this day and age it is a Pill for Every ill.

    Today there is No effort or money spent on disease prevention; for with prevention there will be no need for pills and thus doctors. It could cause a collapse of the medical profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Healthy people just don’t need drugs.

    Ask yourself, do want to be healthy or do you want to be surrounded by chemicals?

    The sale of drugs in America is huge, almost all Americans are on prescription or over the counter drugs, like 87% of Americans; and when the drugs fail surgery is tried. The cost per year is $4 Trillion dollars a year.which is 20% of our national debt spent per year on a disease system; spent on what we may really not need…chemicals.

    I’m gonna follow Mr. Hooser’s lead and look for candidates who will look out for their own health and ours too.



  2. Manawai February 28, 2018 8:27 am Reply

    “Those serving in public office are elected to represent and protect the interests of the people,…”

    Yes, Gary, that’s obvious. But which people? You and many other politicians talk like you want to represent everyone. But you never do. You choose your segment of the population…in your case a small but noisy one. You pander to your segment of Anti’s, transplants (like yourself) and Realtors, and dump on everyone else’s opinions, needs and wants. All you want is a platform to pontificate for the things the majority of voters have disapproved in the past. That’s why you didn’t get re-elected!! Don’t you get it, Gary? We don’t want you or your transplant ideas.

  3. RG DeSoto February 28, 2018 8:29 am Reply

    “Corporations and others in positions of power and wealth are constantly at the public policy and government entitlement table pushing to gain an advantage, and increase their profits. This is how the world works when it comes to the intersection of government and free enterprise.”
    The problem with your statement above is the government. (of course, enterprise can hardly be characterized as free) Government has aggrandized so much power over people and businesses that it has the ability to destroy them and often does.
    Under the current state-corporatist system this power of the state to damage or destroy is a compelling motivator driving corporations to lobby and use government to their advantage. The end result is that the state, fueled by the corporate interests, puts in place innumerable barriers that inhibit market competition and essentially create an un-free enterprise system. People like Gary who are essentially illiterate when it comes to economics see this state-corporatist (fascist) system and incorrectly assume that this is a capitalist free market system. Wrong.
    The problem that then arises is that people like Gary also assume the problem is not enough government…when in fact the problem is caused by too much government interference, force and coercion in the first place. Unfortunately, the widespread economic ignorance and massive entrenched bureaucracies will make it virtually impossible to alter the course we are now following. It will come to absolutely no good.
    RG DeSoto

  4. Just Saying February 28, 2018 2:47 pm Reply

    What the past four years, and your eventual leadership demise, was all about, was the big pile of fear mongering that got off to such a righteous, parading start and slowly but surely was proven not to be backed up by any hard evidence.
    So nowadays, just like trump (oh, just like him) you’re going to, after being exposed, double down on your mendacity and try to polish off the warts. Do you really think that’s going to work? Do you really have such disregard for the memories and critical thinking skills of the electorate?
    The nudge, nudge, wink, wink “We all know they must be up to some no good!” only took you so far. It wasn’t far enough and mostly involved Northshore fringies. You need hard evidence to overcome what played out in public over the last four years. You didn’t have it, you don’t have it now and I, for one, doubt if you ever will!

    1. Gary Hooser February 28, 2018 5:46 pm Reply

      While I don’t expect you to read or understand these direct and credible sources of information. Here are some facts for others who might doubt the risk to health and environment.

      The United States Environmental Protection Agency:“Exposure to a variety of pesticides have been linked to increased risk of birth defects.” http://bit.ly/2AdzXNK

      American Pregnancy Association: “If you discover you are pregnant and you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are being used, it is advised you remove yourself to avoid exposure to these chemicals.”  http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pesticides/

      National Institute of Health: “A significant association was found between the season of elevated agrochemicals and birth defects.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/

      American Academy of Pediatrics: “Chronic toxicity end points identified in epidemiologic studies include adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies, pediatric cancers, neuro- behavioral and cognitive deficits, and asthma.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2012/11/21/peds.2012-2757.full.pdf

      Families living near farming areas experience greatly increased rates of health disorders. This is the conclusion from the following report summarizing more than 25 peer reviewed scientific studies on this topic over the past 30 years. Illnesses found to occur at higher rates for people living close to agriculture include birth defects, brain cancer, autism, infertility, miscarriage, Parkinson’s Disease, immune system damage, leukemia, developmental brain damage in children, higher rates of child cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus and diabetes. https://www.chem-tox.com/agriculture/index.htm (cites numerous studies and research)

      American Cancer Institute agricultural workers health study. “…the rates for certain diseases, including some types of cancer, appear to be higher among agricultural workers, which may be related to exposures that are common in their work environments. For example, farming communities have higher rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, as well as cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate.”  https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet

      California implements STATEWIDE PESTICIDE BUFFER ZONES AROUND SCHOOLS!“Because of health safety concerns, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently adopted rules that prohibit the application of pesticides on crops within a quarter-mile of K- through-12 schools or day care sites during working hours. The statewide regulations, which are similar to but more restrictive than Santa Barbara County’s already existing pesticide conditions, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.”  http://www.santamariasun.com/news/16799/growing-boundaries-state-further-restricts-pesticide-use-near-schools/

      Chlorpyrifos-“Brain and Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a Widely Used Pesticide” Virginia A. Rauh, ScD. COLUMBIA CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY  https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/translational/peph/webinars/neurodevelopment/brain_and_behavioral_effects_of_prenatal_exposure_to_a_widely_used_pesticide_508.pdf

      Chlorpyrifos contaminates fisheries and whales: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/21/trump-administration-lawsuit-pesticide-orca-salmon

      Local physician who has witnessed increase in birth defects:

      Retired EPA scientist/administrator on Hawaii situation:

      1. Just Saying March 1, 2018 2:13 pm Reply

        Dr. Raelson’s essay is an opinion piece just like yours and just like your piece and your list, has no hard evidence relating directly to Kauai. J. Milton Clark is an expert on Midwest ag and his is also an opinion piece based on California and the Midwest.

        The rest of the list is generic, general, mostly nationwide warnings generated by practices in the Midwest and other regions not connected to the activities on Kauai.

        Correlation and causation are friends but aren’t even living together these days. You seem to think they’re interchangeable!

        Every health problem linked to pesticides is also linked to simply living in a low socioeconomic area which also correlates to living near agriculture!

        As always, there’s not a single word about how much worse the next best thing will be. For you, that will just be another fundraising campaign!

  5. Charlie chimknee March 1, 2018 1:35 am Reply

    The seed of consciousnes has always been a small part of the population.

    What is difficult to understand is people who do not fear poison, or the labels on the containers, or consider that other whole nations ban some of these chemicals.

    Or that USA banned chemicals are allowed to be made here in the USA and then shipped to other countries to be put on food that is shipped back to the USA and put on your dinner table.

    I’m curious as to your thoughts, can you knowingly tolerate that, poison on your dinner table…cancer the proven outcome of ones exposure.

    That’s bravery or a brazen attitude about life and the lives of the ones who trust their

    I mean it’s OK for you, but it’s not OK to take us down with you because you are the majority vote.

    Anyway the reckless use of poison especially when it comes to your food is just an IQ Test anyway.

    I always like your comments and challenging them too when appropriate.



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