When my wife became pregnant, a lot of things flashed through my mind, but a main question was, “What kind of future are we leaving for our children? Now my daughter Kanani has emerged from the womb, another I question is; will there be enough resources left to sustain a life as abundant and rich as mine has been? It made me think how can I ensure this?
While pondering this question over the period of a few months, there was an article in the paper about how Hawaii imports 92% of its food. At Costco a few weeks later, I noticed they were selling bananas from Ecuador for 60 cents a pound, while bananas from Hawaii are a dollar sixty a pound. This seems like a major problem, because Maui does not have a banana shortage. So I started to think how we could change this. “Farmers need an incentive to farm!” Growing up on a farm on Kauai, and caretaking one here, I have some idea about what it takes to produce food. From personal knowledge, there are a lot of obstacles to the production of food in Hawaii, some of which are high cost of imports, high land and labor cost and a lot of regulation on agriculturally zoned lands.
Another thing that really concerns me about my daughter Kanani’s future is the school system here on the islands. I went through the school system here, from grade school through college, and know what it is like. Upon studying the budget of the Hawaii Department of Education I noticed that they are using about $2 billion per year, and spending half of it on administration! Hawaii spends almost $16,000 per student/year (the second highest in the US), and we rank 43rd in the US academically. The US ranks 23rd in the world in education, behind Poland! To put it mildly, there is a lot of room for improvement.
So for my daughter, I threw my hat in the ring to be a State Representative for the House District called 13, which is East Maui from Kaupo to Sprecklesville, Molokai, Lanai, and Kaho’olawe. My mission will be to work towards a self sufficient food production system for our islands using tax credits, exemptions and incentives, which should be easy to pass, and implement, as it is common sense, and everyone wants Hawaii to be food secure. The Farm Tax Credit will focus on organic food production on small family farms, so that we can move away from the current trend towards GMO, and move in a healthy direction.
For our children’s future education, I want to encourage the decentralizing of the DOE so that the island counties and districts control their own school budgets, just like many schools in the mainland do. The best schools in the country spend less per student than we do, and they manage their budgets locally!
With an improved education system, and robust agricultural production, Kanani’s future should be bright. I will be writing legislation that will focus on the phasing out of permitting GMO crops in Hawaii, and the dangerous practice known as chemical trails in our atmosphere. In the future I will take Kanani surfing under the clear skies of my childhood, free from pollutants, and bring her in for lunch to a healthy GMO-free picnic of locally produced food. She will go to college fully prepared by our education system for what the world has to offer.
Image Credit: Joanna Tano