The ‘Self-reliance’ Lie; Waikiki Gem

One of the shibboleths tossed about by some Republicans is that we need to get back to self-reliance. You take care of yourself and your family and I’ll take care of myself and mine.

That would be back to the 1800s, which have been well defined in our Old West movies. If the farmer failed to plant enough his family starved. If the rancher didn’t store enough grain his stock died.

The railroad baron kept making money. The banker’s house was never foreclosed.


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The Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai draws rave reviews. Photos courtesy Optimum Marketing & Management.

The 99 percent had to take care of themselves because there was no alternative. They might get mad, but what could they do about it except maybe flip off the baron or the banker in private?

Mass communication didn’t exist. Today, the afflicted might text message: “Meet tonight at 8 at the banker’s house and bring your torch and pitchfork.”

Some of today’s money blandishments – unemployment compensation, food stamps, general welfare vouchers – are not just about compassion. They also are about keeping the 99 percent from confronting the 1 percent. We’re buying off people who might otherwise get very unruly.

Coxey’s huge army of the unemployed marched on D.C. in 1894 and almost brought down the government. The Bonus Army march of veterans in 1932 required troops to put it down.

Now, as we know from the Watts and Detroit riots, it doesn’t take much to get cities burning.

So saying everyone takes care of himself doesn’t make political sense – in addition to not making compassionate sense. And claiming that self-reliance is a grand American tradition flies in the face of 21st century common sense. We couldn’t borrow from China. That would not be self-reliance. We’d have had no Social Security program.

It’s a very silly proposal tossed out to a red-meat crowd with a stunted view of a very complicated world.

Today’s “family” encompasses about 7 billion people, about one-sixth of whom live in poverty, and many of them with access to the means to bring big hurt on the rest of us by getting mad together.

I’m guessing that kerfuffle about the low lease rent the city’s getting from the Queen’s Surf Cafe and Lanai will quickly blow over. And it should.

The old beach concession was ghastly. Nobody was bidding on a new one because of the homeless and disgusting condition of the adjacent public restroom. Sakara Blackwell took a chance and agreed to pay for maintaining the restroom in hotel-like cleanliness.

Typical reviews posted on the Web are like this one: “I can’t believe such a cool place exists on the beach. Almost too good to be true.”

Yep, sometimes the city gets it right. The complaint about the low lease rent (which may have originated with an attorney involved in an unrelated issue with the cafe’s principals) ignores that they inherited a passel of homeless on the property, and agreed not only to deal with that but also to serve much better fare than the old hot dogs and hamburgers, but instead upscale eats in a sit-down, oceanfront setting at lunch wagon prices.

I hope the place becomes a permanent fixture on Waikiki Beach.