2017 national debacle equals 2018 local responsibility

  • Contributed photo

    Gary Hooser

While perhaps a bit trite and formulaic, am thinking a year-end review and a preview of the year ahead is in order.

There is, of course, good news and bad news.

The bad news is that 2017 in a political sense at the federal and global level was, without a doubt, an unmitigated disaster.

The policies, actions and words (err tweets) of Donald Trump in only 12 brief months have effectively destabilized geopolitical conditions in every corner of the planet, expanded the already vast chasm of economic inequality, and accelerated environmental degradation while pillaging public lands and natural resources.

But the truly bad, bad news is that the Republicans who hold power in Congress, while in private they acknowledge he is an unstable narcissist and pathological liar, in public they embrace the role of sycophant.

The good news is that if you work for Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Central Pacific Bank or American Savings Bank you have a $1,000 bonus coming and possibly a pay raise to $15 per hour coming your way very soon.

It’s clear the banks are in a celebratory mood following passage of the so-called Trump tax reform Bill.

And if your income status places you in the top half of the population, it is likely you will pay less taxes next year and also are sharing in the holiday cheer.

Those in the top 5 percent must be positively euphoric and laughing all the way to those same banks.

And the rest of us, well we will eat cake, at least those few crumbs that are left.

The next shoe to drop, sooner rather than later no doubt will come in form of spending cuts, needed to pay for the trillion dollar deficit created by those same windfall corporate tax breaks.

President Trump has already indicated he will be boosting, not cutting, military spending, so all that’s left to cut is education, environmental protection, social services and medical care.

As a result of this dark circus that now defines our national situation, the need for increased vision and leadership at the local level is crucial.

Our state and county government must step up, and into the leadership and policy void created by the Trump administration.

Hawaii could increase local corporate tax rates to counter-balance those excessively generous federal tax cuts, and use those funds to support the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP) which the Trump administration has already chosen to stop funding.

Hawaii could increase measures to protect the environment, countering the pro-corporate policy direction of the current EPA Director.

Hawaii could increase our State minimum wage to $15 per hour, so all workers in all sectors of the economy benefit.

The tax loophole for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s) could be closed and those funds used for affordable housing.

Hawaii could shine, and set an example for other states and municipalities. But our elected leadership at both the State and the County level must be willing to recognize and embrace their responsibility to lead.

2018 has the potential to be a game changer for policy and politics.

The peoples’ frustration with government at all levels is palpable.

In addition to the Trump administration’s actions and inactions setting the stage, we also have an emerging movement to elect new voices at the State and County level. This movement is building on all islands, as well as across the nation, acting as a catalyst for meaningful, dynamic change.

The people are angry and fed up with the status quo. They clearly have no faith or confidence in Congress taking any meaningful action to counter the current direction.

And the perception of local government is not much better.

People are mad at what they perceive is an ineffectual and do-nothing State legislature and county councils who seem equally impotent in their ability to do the people’s work. The people are mad because they are working all the time and still cannot afford a decent place to live. They are mad at the lack of responsiveness by their local political leaders who seem to offer only excuses, and rarely solutions.

Justified or not, people of all shapes and sizes, across essentially all demographics are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

I am hopeful this anger will translate into increased involvement by regular citizens who will be moved to voice their opinions and desires to their elected representatives, both in testimony for and against legislation. I am hopeful that more and more regular citizens will voice their opinion via letters to the editor in newspapers on every island.

But most of all, I am hopeful and optimistic that a new crop of emerging leaders will run for office and be elected to state and county seats in 2018. This is my wish for the new year. Please join me in helping to make it happen. Imua!


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 and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Charlie Chimknee December 27, 2017 8:17 am Reply

    Aloha Gary, thank you for the information and the “vision board” on and about new leadership.

    I would like to take issue on your mentioning cut backs to health care. What you are speaking of is Disease Care, not actual Health Care.

    The emphasis in human Health has deteriorated in the last few generations to a pill for every ill, and ill means disease. Taking care of, or better called, managing Disease, has become by drug and surgical treatments; neither of which is about Health, but is about Disease Care.

    America ranks #1 in the world when it come to “Health” care costs and expenses; but we are ranked 37th in Quality of “health care”; just after tiny Costa Rica (36th) and ahead of tiny Slovenia (38th).

    Drug treatments, for what you mistakenly call health care, cause disastrous side effects including death.

    The killer chronic (long term) diseases incease every year to the point of almost acting as a population control. These disease fatalities are opioid addiction that kills more in a month than all the soldiers killed in Vietnam in 10 years (58,000). Congress has said the Opioid addiction epidemic has been caused by presciption medications. The other fatal diseases are heart and vascular (stroke) diseases, too many cancers, obesity and its cousin diabetes, along with kidney and liver diseases often caused by medications. So please do not call Health Care what is really Disease Care.

    We spend $4,000,000,000,000.00 ($4 Trillion) a year on disease Care; and it’s only getting worse or failing. Bankrupt is a suitable word.

    Maybe cutting back on disease care and training actual Health Care practitioners is the new way. An enormous part of Health Care is Education.

    The commonality of all sick people is that like all of us, all of them eat.
    So let us have nutritionists and actual Health Care practioners run the actual Health Care System and let the disease doctors run the Crisis Emergency Care. You should Demand legislators ban junk food, along with sugar (kiddie knack) and carcinogenic chemicals found in and on almost every food as it costs too much money for disease Care. And let’s mention altering the genes in God’s food which without GMO has sustained humans since our time began.

    Gary read today’s natural health article in the Garden Island by nutritionist Ayda Ersoy, that article is all about Health Care and not about Doctors and disease care.

    Health Education in schools does not cost $4 Trillion a year, but it does increase our nation’s Health. But it has to be real Health Education, not fake. Health Education speaks to the Prevention of disease. Prevention is Preclusion of disease.

    Sadly There are so many Health Education and Health Care Providers that are ignored and even discriminated against. And insurance Companies do not allow them to participate in what are proven modalities of actual Health.

    By cutting back on the current modalities of Disease Care it may just allow actual alternative Health Care to prevail to the benefit of all.

    The greatest form of failure is giving up. It reads like you have not given up, we hope you run for office again, and keep writing your articles, the other council members should write also their visions and dreams and island improvements for us all.



    1. Gary Hooser December 27, 2017 4:03 pm Reply

      I agree Charles to a great extent the point you are trying to make. Industrial processed foods, out of control pharmaceutical industry and health care focused to a large extent on “billing” the maximum amount for maximum treatment- all contribute toward the poor health of all.

  2. RG DeSoto December 27, 2017 8:20 am Reply

    “The people are angry and fed up with the status quo.”
    Gary you are correct, but you should understand a more appropriate line would have read: “The people are fed up, angry, sick and tired of all politicians, which includes YOU.”
    Time to fade away and go do something productive…like get a real job.
    RG DeSoto

    1. Gary Hooser December 27, 2017 4:08 pm Reply

      Actually Mr. DeSoto I am not serving in public office nor running for public office. But I think I understand your deep seated anger towards me, and it would seem toward all politicians. Am curious what solutions you offer and what you are doing to change things for the better?

      1. RG DeSoto December 29, 2017 10:09 am Reply

        In the over-politicized and predetermined decision making process that characterizes the Federal, State and Local environments, “changing things for the better” is a joke. I saw that verified when you were a politician…and it continues with your brethren–politicians and bureaucrats.
        You have socialist leaning proclivities and nothing I, or any other libertarian (small l), proposed would have made any sense to you…or the majority of all politicians. Basically, Gary, from the standpoint of individuals the chance of affecting change is hopeless.
        I, for one, am tired of the irrational policies that destroy markets and liberty. I just don’t think that you understand how free markets work. I suggest “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt.
        RG DeSoto

  3. Jim hennessy December 27, 2017 5:07 pm Reply

    Gary.We had elections.You lost .HILLARY lost.Show some respect for our democratic process and let our currant elected officials do the job we elected them to do

  4. David McDonald December 28, 2017 7:13 am Reply

    Gary, I agree with you on one point… people are angry with the government on many levels. In fact, it is this anger that led to Donald Trump’s remarkable victory last year. And I’m confident ( as is Newt Gingrich per his article in Fox this morning ), that the big surprise of 2018 will be the big victories for Republicans in the midterm elections.

  5. Charliechimknee December 28, 2017 8:33 am Reply

    Aloha Gary, yes Disease Care is out of control. Disease Care provided by hospitals and doctors is looked at as a MENU. A PULL DOWN MENU, and at the check out counter the beeper reads the menu bar code and clicks off another outrageous charge.

    Perhaps a nation wide 1 fee office charge for all services, based on geographical cost of living zones. New York City fees greater than North Dakota.

    That would put cost control and parity in the system and cut costs for superfluous testing and treatments.

    Doctors themselves say that there are only about 10 most common conditions that 90% of the public shows up for at their offices and hospitals.

    As a result there are only about 10 singular or sets of prescriptions the doctor needs to prescribe for these 10 or so conditions. The drugs chosen are based on what competing Pharmaceutical company the doctor or hospital favors based on gifts received or even effectiveness in hiding symptoms. And for that we put Doctors up on pedestals as outstanding members of society?

    Failed drug treatment leads to more complicating drugs, or surgery, in some indicated cases. Either way that is proof of treatment failure made perfectly clear.

    Clearly what perpetuates the Disease Care System is the blinf faith that people have in the system, ignorant of prevention and actual Health Care. Over decades the pharmaceutical industry has dug the rut deeper for the people to live in: Eating the same foods and taking the same drugs, medicines, alcohol, and tobacco…year after year and expecting a different result than Disease is ignorance but never results in bliss.

    How do people fall into the ongoing rut of blind faith in Disease Care?

    Well it starts with Blind Faith primers. 1st is Blind Faith in Santa Claus, then it’s the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, now you’re prepared for Blind too many aspects of society, now you are a non-thinker. Congratulations and welcome to the herd.

    You can’t find Health on the shelves of our grocery stores or pharmacies; for the most part you can find Disease on the one hand and Treatment on the other.

    It’s a long road back for society to back out of the rut of Disease Care, só that is not happening, but fortunately for an individual one need merely to step up and out of the rut in a single step and change their ways and not participate in Disease Care.

    Remove chemicals from your life, the human race has only been overly exposed to them in the last 100 years or less. The discovery that that the carbon atoms of oil can be ré-arranged to make almost anything nowadays from plastics to poison, most all of the drugs, medicines, poison chemicals of agriculture, food chemical additives (just read the ingredients on the food labels…bet ya can’t…the words are so chemically complex you can’t even pronounce most of them).

    And if you knew chemistry you’d read there are more than 1 kind of sugar in your foods nowadays and as many as 8…so far. And when a food corporation officer was asked why so many sugars in food, he responded: to hook the sugary sweet addicts and most important it is cheaper to put sugar in the food than it is to put food in the food.

    Who’s fooling who? We guess they’re fooling us. Well not all of us.

    Finding Health is a personal discovery so far it is not taught in the schools making people ignorantly dependent on the pharmaceutical and medical Disease Business men and women, the doctors and hospitals.

    Have you ever been to the doctor and been told that your cholesterol or your blood pressure is too high…and been told to eat more MEAT? Of course not, as meat is a cause of all that. But you are given drugs, but rarely told to STOP EATING MEAT. So you continue with the meat and drugs and find out a year later you’re worse and what happens then? More or different drugs. Later you can qualify for a “Bypass” to your hearts large arteries…how lucky we are to have this available.

    In some cultures older women, even on KAUAI, tell young brides to give their husband the macho meat, and the women should eat the vegetables, “and you’ll outlive your husband”. The obituaries on KAUAI prove that.

    Well Gary I got a water line ditch to dig, so…ALOHA…!

    I hope you can see I’m trying to be a well read unlicensed Health Care giver of INFORMATION…OF CONCEPTS TO UNDERSTAND in order for people to climb out the deep Disease Rut.



  6. Jerek Young January 7, 2018 7:41 am Reply

    If TGI is actually paying this out-of-touch, former loser who doesn’t have a clue then I’m done with TGI. Gary, you have been repeatedly rejected by residents. Thankfully, you’re not in office ANYWHERE. You are the type that continually looks for the boogeyman to rally voters against a common enemy. You’re divisive and out of touch.

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