Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exploiting Native Hawaiians

Over on my other blog (http://kamaainaloan.com/wordpress/), I have a short post linking to an Ian Lind report on the Hawaiiloa Foundation trial.

You should read it (both, my post and Ian's), because the Maui News has not reported on this trial. No surprise, it's being held on Oahu and the News is stretched thin, although I believe it will be following as the trial proceeds.

Lind examined some of the documents being used to persuade Hawaiians to fork over cash and real estate, and he finds them to be "gobbledegook." I did, too, some years ago when they first came to me when I was reporting at the Maui News.

One of the things that disturbed me then was that several people that I respect in the Hawaiian community were endorsing these sales pitches. I do not believe they had read the documents. As Lind proposes, the con was wrapped up in an attractive package of sovereignty and redress of indigenous wrongs.

And people were desperate, thanks to the Incurious George crash.

I was in Iowa during an earlier GOP-engineered crash, one that wiped out a lot of farmers. The kind of people the Tea Party claims to be representing. (Go here for an acerbic and leftwing take on the TP and its constituency, based on a Democracy Corps analysis of some Republican soul-searching. There are other reports out there on the Democracy Corps piece, but ThinkProgess has the best wrapup I've seen.)

Iowa farmers are not indigenous Americans, even if the TP uses that sort of rhetoric, but they reacted just the same as Native Hawaiians when caught in a similar trap not of their own devising.

Instead of a mythical Native Hawaiian bond fund, the con in Iowa involved nameless Arab oil sheikhs who, oddly as it would sound to you or me, wanted to lend individual Iowa farmers $1,000,000 each at no interest and -- this was the best part -- also didn't want to be paid back.

He wants to give you $1,000,000

Such a deal.

You might think that nobody could fall for that, but desperate people don't think straight (consider John Boehner, for a current example). And if that person was also the inheritor of land that had been farmed by his family for three or four generations, any expedient to keep the land from being taken was a good one.

In that respect, they were exactly like Native Hawaiians who believe their land was stolen.

Unlike the targets of Hawaiiloa Foundation, who were for the most part ordinary working folks who were good for a couple thousand bucks, owners of Iowa farms, even insolvent ones, could often come up with considerable scratch. The going rate for access to sheikh money was $30,000 -- cash.

As we watch the Tea Party push 300 million Americans into the ditch, it is worth thinking about a profound comment I saw today at Bloomberg News. (I am sure it's not new, but it was new to me).

Humans are the only animal that can be skinned more than once.

(That is attributed to, of all people, Jimmy Durante.)

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