Democrats control us
Orignially titled, "The new fat cats"
Cliff Slater is a Honolulu businessman and represents the Reason Foundation in Hawaii.
When election time rolls around, Democrat politicians still invoke memories of the plantation years. Older folks still remember their fears of the plantation overseer -- the luna.
Younger ones have never seen a luna but the harshness of their parents' and grandparents' experiences have been passed on to them indelibly. Among our former plantation families the collective memories of the fear and embarrassment of the times are very strong.
After the Second World War, the Democrat party and the unions gained power and changed all that. Our former plantation families have been grateful ever since.
These old memories are so strong that it is easy for everyone to ignore the current reality. Without being challenged the Democrats have not just taken political power but have also quietly taken total control of our institutions. From the Bishop Estate to the Hawaii Supreme Court and the multi-billion dollar Queen Emma Foundation—all are under their firm grasp.
The book "Land and Power in Hawaii," about the people who make money on Hawaii's politically influenced land deals is appropriately sub-titled "The Democratic Years"; there is hardly a Republican to be found in its index.
People believe that business plays both sides in politics; they give to candidates of both parties. However, this is simply not true. For example, in the race for Congress between Orson Swindle and Neil Abercrombie, Swindle received nothing -- ZERO -- from big business executives. The big downtown names contributed to the Abercrombie campaign. It was the same in Tom Pico's congressional race against Patsy Mink.
These days downtown business finds it too risky to give to Republican congressional candidates. The new reality today is the alliance of Big Unions, Big Government and a reluctant Big Business.
The unions help elect the politicians and, in turn, the politicians keep in place the laws that grant business monopolies and unions exclusivity in these monopolies. In exchange, big business does not fight the unions or the regulatory environment and it contributes to the unions' candidates. Everyone gets a share of the pie -- except the little guy.
The only fear and embarrassment today comes from the Democrats and the unions who are the new lunas. Let the 442nd guys show a little independence in backing a Republican candidate like Orson Swindle and new luna Dan Inouye shuts them down. Let a banker say something amiss about an organized labor issue and a union leader moves his millions to another bank. Let Democrats run short of campaign funds and business leaders are "asked" to throw $1,000 a head fund-raising parties for them.
We can now say of the Democrats what we used to say of the missionary families -- they started out to do good and have done very well indeed.
Tom Gill sees it right: The Democrats were not trying to reform the system but rather, "They just wanted in ... Now they have a slice of the pie, and some of them are getting fat."
Today's situation is a dramatic switch from 40 years ago. Then you could walk the length and breadth of Bishop Street and not find a Democrat. Today, it is difficult to find someone who will admit to being a Republican.
The unholy alliance of Big Business, Big Government and Big Unions is an uneasy one. They neither understand nor trust each other. All they have is a mutual dependency.
It will not last once the voters understand it.
June 6, 1997 Issue Back to Top Home ©