Monday, May 16, 2022 |
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• Where will we go when it’s all gone?
Where will we go when it’s all gone?
By BetteJo Dux
We are lucky on Kaua‘i. We live in beauty. And it may not be too late to preserve it. It’s too late to do anything about the future of Po‘ipu/Koloa, but everyone — except the poor newcomer and visitor who pay exorbitant prices to live in and visit there — knows that already.
The problem with the visitor, particularly the hotel ‘package tourist,’ is that, while you might lose one — disgusted with the wretchedness of the mess — for every one you lose, at least three more pop up behind him. As for the newcomer, chances are he’s fleeing from an area destroyed by this same madness — overcrowding and greed — only to discover, to his dismay and ours, it’s followed him.
The only people who benefit from this sort of mass movement are the airlines and the hotels, and I see no reason why the residents of Kaua‘i, the taxpayers, must sit back and watch their beautiful world destroyed in order to fill the pockets of a few alienated industries. I must include, of course, the developers, realtors and large land holders who rake it in while the market is hot and then, many of them, move on or up as the case may be.
But it isn’t a question of money. Neither money spent nor money earned. Money is not the issue. The issue is the total destruction of an environment. We must destroy more land, more trees, more open space, more of what makes Kaua‘i so precious, to house the hordes of people who visit us each year. We must construct more highways to transport them. We must build a bigger airport to accommodate them.
“Far-thinking” men tell us we even need more cheap housing to house the multitudes of people we must find or import to serve the visitor every year. And where will it end?
Will it end when Kaua‘i is one great, concrete-coated airport, hotel, highway, ticky-tacky tourist trap?
It could end there. It could end there because there will always be those greedy enough to coax more people to our over-crowded shores.
But what of us who live here, who love the island?
Who wonder at the palms and the mountains, the open fields and the good clean air? Who love the sand and the surf and the soft sea breeze? Will we sit back quietly and watch the desecration as it takes place? Will we climb quickly aboard the bandwagon — in the name of holy progress and fat wallets — and accept the fast buck offered which will destroy this magnificent bit of paradise? And if we don’t, will our neighbor? In the name of progress?
This is not progress. This is regression, of the most insidious sort.
Let me ask this: What is wanted? Money? If our environment is destroyed all the money in the world won’t buy it back. Not in our lifetime, anyway. Ever heard of Waikiki? Seen any recent pictures of that man-made mess? It will never, can never, be returned to its original beauty. I have had the distinct misfortune of having witnessed, first hand, the destruction of Waikiki, and I must remind you that behind the rich beachfront facade exists one of the most densely populated, crime-, disease-, misery-, drug- and slum-ridden areas in the world. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Ask any cop. Or, the next time you’re on the 18th floor of one of those grand hotels, look down.
Is that the fate to be bestowed upon this island? Willed to our children? If it is, I imagine some propose to acquire enough money to make a fast get-away. You can be certain the tourist industry will move elsewhere. (They moved on to Kaua‘i, didn’t they?) But where elsewhere?
The answer? Let’s put men in office who will change the laws. Make it a law that the necessary infrastructure — highways, bridges, airports, an ample and clean fresh water supply, bigger sewage-treatment plants, new schools, more teachers, more parks, more police, more firemen, more hospitals, more power plants, you name it — be in place before the thundering herd arrives and ask the taxpayer, that’s you and me, to decide by vote, if he wants to pay for any part of it. If you haven’t figured out that over-population is a bottom-line problem — in the world as well as the islands — you’re just too dumb and, unless we’ve all become victims of the stupidity disease, I think this will slow some of the development. What this island needs are more people — more noisy people — who care about the quality of life, not the fast buck. Clean air, fresh water, open space are up for grabs and, if the present trend persists, most of you who read this won’t have the bucks to buy any. Not too long ago it was thought that only the great ape fouled his own nest. Recently we have discovered that, compared to us, that animal is the tidiest of tidy housekeepers.
BetteJo Dux is a resident of Kalaheo.
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