Hawaii is as much a state of mind and of heart as it is a physical location. It’s one of the best-known and most popular tourist destinations in the entire world. But few would seriously consider actually living here.
Nobody really comes to Hawaii by accident. Even locals who are born and raised here at some point in their life see the draw of educational and employment opportunities beyond these islands and make a choice whether to stay or to go. Those who move here from elsewhere likewise make a choice whether to stay and retire or to go someplace else.
Some folks come here from the U.S. Mainland for either employment or educational opportunities. I was in the latter category 41 years ago. I was determined that Hawaii would just be for a few years and then we would move on.
But I found a home here in the Pacific Basin. Having spent nearly three years in the Philippines and almost a year on Okinawa while in the U.S. Air Force, I was ready for an opportunity to experience America’s mid-Pacific Frontier.
I purposely do not go into the specifics of my work career in these articles because I don’t want that to taint the objective analyses I try so hard to present. Suffice it to say in that regard that I have been retired for a bit over four years now.
What I’m talking about today is the choice people make whether to remain in Hawaii. I had a career opportunity to leave Hawaii for a few years to work in Southern California while my elderly parents were alive and residing in that area.
I even had the chance to work in Washington DC while living out in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia for about three years three decades ago. Our nation’s capital is the pinnacle of high level job opportunities. I was in a mid-level position and had to decide whether to seek career advancement or to live where I would prefer.
But the Inside the Beltway Scene was the opposite of Hawaii in so many ways. The weather is obvious, but it was much more than that. DC is really a dog-eat-dog world.
If you don’t step on the gas within a split second after the light turns green, brace yourself for honks and rude hand gestures. If you dare stand on an escalator rather than walking while it’s moving, expect somebody to trample over your back.
Never block a pathway on the DC Mall with two or three people abreast or somebody in a big hurry to get nowhere will push his or her way through. People get to Washington DC because they are mostly aggressive Type A personalities.
I still remember the middle-aged fella in a suit and tie who used to push his way onto the Metro at West Falls Church to take the Orange Line into DC. He was going to get that last seat no matter what. Ladies and the infirm could stand as long as he got his place to sit down. I often wondered what he was like at whatever job he held.
Going out to eat at a run-of-the-mill restaurant on a Friday evening, most folks are dressed up. I’ve always hated the hangman’s noose they call a necktie and wondered what idiot actually came up with that dress code for men.
I will say I absolutely loved and was fascinated by all the history of the East Coast, including battlefields of both the Revolutionary War and Civil War. I could drive from my townhouse in Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in just about an hour and a half crossing Maryland on the way and passing by the Antietam Civil War Battlefield.
I won’t list all the other memorable places we were able to see while we were there. But it just wasn’t a place to raise a family or to stay and retire. This was my only time residing east of the Mississippi River, so for others, your mileage may vary. I realize that.
I’m just giving you my own personal story of one who chose to come back to Hawaii. It was the easiest decision I ever made. Power, influence and even big bucks were not enough of an attraction to dissuade me from getting as far outside the DC Beltway as possible.
I have been back since Friday the 13th of December in 1991. Hawaii is home. I have no plans to ever move away again. Sometimes the overcrowding and traffic here on Oahu can make that thought pop into my mind. But it never lasts very long.
Without going into all the details, I spent my early years in Northeastern Oklahoma, the South Oregon Coast and in Southern California. But the majority of my adult life has been spent in Asia and the Pacific.
Unfortunately, too many families are having to leave Hawaii because our current crop of politicians ~ who just play musical chairs from one position to another ~ have run the economy into the ground and made life unaffordable. Those who want a decent higher education and those who want to be able to earn a good living to support their families often find it necessary to relocate.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Tourism will always play a major role in Hawaii’s economy. This is also an irreplaceable strategic hub for the United States military, especially as Chinese hegemony in the Pacific Basin worsens.
But there is nothing here in this over-regulated and over-taxed environment to attract new businesses to open up in Hawaii. Agriculture had to basically give up because of the overhead costs. Sugarcane and pineapple fields have given way to urban sprawl.
The sugar mills around Honolulu are gone. Dole some years ago had to cease growing pineapples commercially here and closed their cannery. Labor is far cheaper in places like the Philippines or Costa Rica.
Now Democrats want to pay an exorbitant minimum wage for everybody who works at McDonald’s. They don’t understand the difference between an entry-level or part-time position and a substantial position that can provide a living wage to support a family. No wonder McD is going to the use of more kiosks. They don’t eat that much electricity.
But proximity to the Far East could make Hawaii a Gateway to Asia if proper entrepreneurial knowledge and insight were used to create a friendlier business environment. Hawaii doesn’t export much more of interest than just bottled water and military scrap materials.
It has even been suggested that a reputable flight school for commercial pilots could be established perhaps on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. There is much room for development and I mean that both literally and figuratively.
People remain in Hawaii because this is home. Many qualified people sacrifice promising careers that they could have pursued on the United States Mainland. It’s a choice one has to make.
Politics aside, we all know that Barack Obama chose to make his career in Chicago. I just learned today after President Trump appointed CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, that this highly qualified government leader was born here in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Not a lot has been written about that fact that I could find today. How long he lived here or at what age he moved to the Mainland would be interesting to know. But his education and his career have excelled in ways they never could have here in Hawaii.
There are only a few government positions in Hawaii that get any attention in other states. More often than not, it is the negative antics of our two Democrat Senators and two Democrat Representatives that are noticed. Or when an Attorney General appointed by the Hawaii Governor challenges the President’s Executive Orders in court. Or a Governor mishandles a false missile alert.
In other words, most publicity about Hawaii officials is of the derogatory variety. But we can and must do better than that.
Nobody should have to sacrifice their financial well-being or their career aspirations in order to live here in Hawaii! Folks of the 50th state are among the nicest people anywhere.
One of the financial incentives is that Hawaii does not tax retirement income. Families care for their own kupuna who cared for them when they were young. Hawaii had employer-based medical plans for the majority of workers long before Obamacare just convoluted the situation.
As a senior citizen, people are extremely courteous to you. Men are addressed as uncle and women as auntie. Not just by literal nieces and nephews. Not even just by the extended family. Even when meeting complete strangers.
Respect for elders and for tradition are part of the Hawaii way of life. There is a total disconnect between what our elected politicians do and say and the way most Hawaii people conduct their everyday lives.
That is the message I’m trying to get across! If the voters of Hawaii can just think in terms of their own values and not be ensnared by party-line politics, we can elect leaders who truly represent us and what we believe.
Those who stay in Hawaii through thick and thin are here because this is our home. Hawaii is not only for the tourists. Hawaii is a hospitable host of our military friends. But most of all, modern-day Hawaii is what we let it be.
But we mustn’t just let others decide what life in Hawaii will be like. We must get involved and do our part by following only leaders who respect everyone in Hawaii, not only special interests.
Hawaii is in a unique position in Polynesia. Our location and our needs are not identical to those of North America. We are closer culturally as well as geographically to Asia and the Pacific Basin than we are to the government institutions on the banks of the Potomac. That’s why those of us who love Hawaii choose to stay!
Only Hawaii is Hawaii!
Let’s keep Hawaii Hawaii!
Let’s make Hawaii affordable for Hawaii families once again!
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