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Essay

A modest disposal

in Houselessness

To the Good Politicians, Business People, and Upright Citizens of Honolulu:

The problem as you have perceived about the homeless is their homelessness and what else can be more obvious and on point about this truism. It is a tautology that rings with genius. The more we say it the more we know we are virtuous and righteous.

It is as right as business owners shouting to their employees that they’re obviously not working hard enough or earn too much in wages and that’s the reason for the business failing. How could there be any other answer?
 
Let us not complicate the issue with indelicacies that would make our coffee conversation and camaraderie uncomfortable at the club. The issue of a minimum wage worker who works for 30 years without a retirement fund is really not realistically our business, is it? Can we help it if we like eating cheap Mexican food but hate undocumented immigrants? Then there is that thorny issue of statehood ceded lands in Hawaii, a portion of which should go to benefit native Hawaiians, and the Hawaiian Homes lands and the long waiting list. But really, is that our problem, when native Hawaiians are homeless in Hawaii?
 
And then there are the Micronesians who have come to Hawaii at the invitation of the U.S. government, after we have bombed their atolls and occupied their lands as way stations for our commercial shipping and military? Is it our fault that the federal government has not lived up to its obligation of promising to take care of them? Can we help it if we benefit from federal military spending in Hawaii but don’t like the fallout that comes with it?
 
Let’s move forward with the gentrification of Honolulu and $600,000 a unit condominiums as if we can all afford them and will earn real estate commissions off them in some Valhala way. Let us close our eyes in prayer to erase the image of who once lived on the foot print and parking lot of these hallowed condos. Let us pray even harder to forget that much of the agricultural land lacks clear title because somewhere, somehow, sometimes the land was really owned by Hawaiians who died of western diseases more than a century ago or abandoned their land after the overthrow of the monarchy when water was diverted for sugarcane and pineapple.
 
History is an inconvenience the rich and politically righteous can ill afford in fighting homelessness by attacking the homeless.
 
Let us dispose of history forthwith and ride the wave with those with a flair for the obvious. Let us continue to move the homeless to different parts of the Oahu until we can find the place with the fewest objections and least political power, like the way we build our freeways and prisons. Do not ask what is it. Let us go and pay a visit.

—J. Slow

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