By Rich Figel
PROGRAM ALERT: The new November episode of Career Changers TV will premiere 8:30 PM on Saturday night, Nov. 3. You can find daily viewing times and channel info on our website (click here). This month's show has some interesting "leftover" pieces in keeping with our Thanksgiving theme. To watch segments from past and present shows, please visit the CCTV YouTube Channel.
I was young, naive and ambitious when I moved here in 1985. Now I'm older, more cynical and don't have the same drive to change the world as I once did. At 56, I feel like I have another 10 to 15 productive work years ahead of me, but I'll have to use my time wisely and conserve energy for the things that take priority in my life. That's just an inescapable fact of growing older. We slow down.
What is distressing though is how it seems Hawaii's future is being dictated by old people with old ideas. Elderly folks deserve respect -- but should we really be making major policy decisions regarding long-term planning, based on what senior citizens at McDonald's think or tell politicians? Look at who has been railing the loudest against rail for the past few years -- I mean, really LOOK at them. They are mostly old retired men, who have time to write memoirs and haven't had to commute by bus or car for the last decade or two. They don't have to deal with horrible traffic and gridlock on a daily basis. Their children have already grown up and bought homes, so they don't worry about affordable housing plans that are part of community redevelopment projects, which will go hand in hand with building a 21st Century rail system.
I don't expect many Star-Advertiser readers will agree with my views for a simple reason: a couple of months ago, the S-A poll asked, "What is your job situation?" About 43 percent replied they were retired. Almost half the people who have time to read these blogs, write letters to the editor, or answer phone calls asking for opinions on everything from rail to elections, are over the age of 60. More importantly, they are the people who vote. The ones who have the most at stake in the upcoming elections -- young adults, working couples who battle traffic every day -- are less likely to go to the polls. It also seems there is a shortage of younger, energetic visionary leaders who can inspire people to rally around anything constructive these days. Politics has become all about being against any kind of real change, and focusing on the negative.
Although I support Caldwell and rail, I despise the negative PRP commercials and thought they would backfire. I'd rather see candidates and issues be judged on their merits and facts. But people who think Cayetano is losing in the polls because of those attack ads, seem to forget that Caldwell and Carlisle -- the pro-rail candidates -- combined, were ahead of Ben from the start. Love him or hate him, Ben is about where he was all along. And so are his views. If the best he can offer is putting more buses on more roads, with more years of stalling and scrambling for funds... well, you might as well turn Honolulu into one giant retirement community with additional lanes devoted to Handi-Vans and mobility scooters. Because that's how fast traffic will be moving every time there is an accident on the H-1 or H-2. Besides that, anyone who has gotten stuck behind buses (or riding them) while commuting from the Windward side or East Oahu knows buses are not the answer to our traffic problems.
Personally, rail will not benefit my wife or me. We don't have kids, so affordable housing for young people doesn't directly affect us. Yet, even though we're in our fifties and getting older, some of us still cling to the naive idealism of our youth, when we were able to see a bigger picture with a brighter future. However, if younger people and all those commuters in West Oahu don't get out and vote, they have no one to blame but themselves if we must endure another 20 years of gridlock and shortsightedness. Peace out.
Comments are closed for the weekend because I am sick and tired of all the campaign talk and commercials. Plus, there's no point in arguing since everyone has more or less made up their minds by now. In any event, no politics in my Career Changers TV show, so watch it this weekend!