It's Time to Figure
by Juan DeVilbiss, PhD.
(intended for speed-readers)
We cannot simply vote for our immediate personal benefit, as work unions do. The benefits to local society in turn benefit the individual, which in turn benefits the family, and the community - and finally the work unions. The law of supply and demand generally prevails whether we like it or not.
How do people figure things out? What goes on in the mind of different people?
Can we simply assume everyone makes decisions like we do? ... Hardly.
As one gets older, one realizes more and more how different people are from each other. Though we locals are used to "our" island's wonderful multi-ethnic mix, how people figure things out for themselves (make decisions, like how to vote) in my opinion tends to fall into one of the following categories, irrespective of ethnicity, or gender.
In the elections to come, there's a myriad of issues/candidates, and discussions will tend to be done in haste. After all, even in a democracy, we have to go to work.
Confusion could arise from not knowing whether an issue is a State issue or a City issue - like potholes on freeways vs. streets; or traffic flow on exit ramps vs. city streets.... This gives the manipulators a great advantage, if people don't have time to do some calculations, or read many opinions, the argument from "authority" will be resounding. The imagination will be offered as a substitute for reality. Speakers will be discredited, not their ideas. Quick generalizations will take the place of numerical figuring. "Trust me" will be on many lips. That is: watered-down democracy.
THE FEIS on RAIL
Buses go everywhere on-island. Roads go everywhere; trails even more. The rail system CANNOT go everywhere on a tropical rainy day; yet it can be easily and effectively terrorized. Go figure.
A (Final Environmental Impact Statement) FEIS exists per the Leeward rail system plan. The first shovel has not touched the ground. But the expensive, thick, FEIS does no good if it is not read. We are lucky to have the Federals and the State looking into the figures (numbers). They are not easily stumped. But the days when City governments could expect big handouts from the Federals are gone. Now, the Feds look for loans from China, and would rather support highways. Figure alternatives in.
"Figuring" commonly applies to:
Purchases at the supermarket (or any market)
Estimating gasoline usage
Minutes on the cell phone
Profit and taxes from sales
Usage of our daylight time
Interest on investments
The size/weight of a box for shipping
The resolution of a computer video
Checking our weight or calories
In other words: we "figure" with numbers, in order to "figure out" what to do. "Figure it out", they say.
But when it comes to the FEIS for Oahu rail, many will not encourage scrutinizing it mathematically. They'll want to glance over the very purpose of the FEIS. For it is not "final" in the sense of approval. It is only final in that it was minimally, acceptably written. It provides figures for a costly mega-project on a relatively small, distant island, unlike any other. Much work and expense went into it, paid with tax money, for our protection. But it does not provide the money for its construction. Unpredictable taxes are demanded once built. In a bad local economy (typically when our country is at war), it behooves us to scrutinize - in advance.
The critical word in FEIS is "IMPACT". So, in Hawaii, are VIP burial sites part of the "environment"? How about the ocean view? Or the Mauka view? Aesthetics are valuable in Hawaii.
We cannot simply vote for our immediate personal benefit, as work unions do. The benefits to local society in turn benefit the individual, which in turn benefits the family, and the community - and finally the work unions.
For the law of supply and demand generally prevails.
Arabs gave us the zero, and geometry. Calculate. It's fun to be correct :)