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Don’t Blame The Shopping Carts

Symbolism, Hollywood, despair, mental anguish

and politics all intertwined to entertain the public last week in an unlikely display of political frustration surfacing in Waikiki before a national audience.

I’m talking about state Rep. Tom Brower’s approach to bring attention to the need to solve the homelessness problem in his district – Waikiki, the heart of our tourism industry. His theory was to attack the shopping cart, which more often than not is used to transport homeless people’s belongings from one campsite to another. Little did the shopping carts around Waikiki think they would be attacked with a sledgehammer and reduced to rubble to be unceremoniously dumped into the back of a garbage truck.

Problem is, the story was picked up by the national media, and everybody is talking about it. That’s not good for the state’s image.

I feel sorry for the shopping cart. It’s such a great creation (invented in Oklahoma City in 1937 by Sylvan Goldman, owner of a chain of Piggly Wiggly supermarkets and whose children later lived in Hawaii). It is so helpful to so many people for a variety of reasons. Shopping carts don’t discriminate as to whom they will assist. Many shopping carts serve to stabilize people who need a walker to get from one place to another without worrying about falling on uneven sidewalks or tripping over cracks in parking lot pavement. How sad the shopping cart community must feel about being assaulted by a sledgehammer, like the one used in Hollywood’s movie of super hero Thor. A romantic figure, to be sure; a cure for homelessness, no way.

I’m certain Rep. Brower could get re-elected for another term, and possibility elected to the Senate or a office higher up the political ladder, but it’s not going to happen with a prop like a sledgehammer. What our political system could use is a broom. If our politicians are sincere about trying to solve the homelessness problem, the first thing they have to do is keep it out of the heart of our tourism industry. There aren’t many resorts around the world that exhibit a visible homeless population.

There are suggestions that affordable housing would help, and that’s true, but being realistic, it would create a mega ghetto. I believe in the old saying, “Give a devil authority and you have a saint.” It might work if everything else fails. Why not let the homeless people govern themselves for a change? Our government leaders might be surprised at some of their suggested solutions.

Let’s stop glamorizing the sledgehammer and start looking to the broom for leadership.