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December 09, 2009

Hawaii Notes

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* It does add to trip expense, but it can be worth it. Renting a car.

We had a car in Maui last spring and it was useful and fun getting us into town and to more distant parts of the island.

My previous visits to Oahu were public-transportation-only affairs; this time we had a car because it was part of a package deal. As a result, I got to see a good chunk of the island. Oahu strikes me as being more scenic than Maui due to the rugged cliffs that apparently are residue from a volcanic caldera. The surfin' North Shore was interesting too, and we were lucky enough to avoid high waves and resulting large crowds for a meet currently underway.

Another nice byproduct of the car trip is that I can re-read accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack with a better feel for the locations of military facilities and the terrain in their areas.

* Hawaii sections of bookstores sometimes have books about Hawaiian history. Some of those books are by writers who (judging by book covers) seem pretty upset about how the United States came to possess the Sandwich Islands.

Indeed the process had its messy spots -- but then, most things political can be messy.

But so what?

Would Hawaii have been better off under a hereditary-feudal system of the sort found on most of the islands for centuries? Or under the Japanese? Or as a weak, independent country?

British rule probably would have been okay -- up till 1940 or so.

My guess is that what happened was for the best. And it can't realistically be changed anyway.

* Now I have to catch a plane for freezing Seattle ...



posted by Donald at December 9, 2009


I imagine an independant Hawaii to be like a very shitty agriculturally based Singapore. After all, Asians taken altogether are the majority here. Most ethnic Hawaiians like myself are admixed with Asian and/or Caucasian. Pure Hawaiians are vanishingly rare. Sans America, Hawaii would have definitely ended up under British or Japanese rule. The Kamehameha dynasty actively wanted a British protectorate established, and it may have happened if the line didn't die out (the heir apparent was named Albert and was Victoria's godchild). King Kalakaua tried to get a dynastic unification with the Japanese Imperial Line. Didn't work out.

As colonization goes, America probably brought the most wealth and development, at the cost of a load of land disenfranchisement. Even if cut loose by the Brits around the 60s, I doubt Hawaii would be a big a basket case as say Vanuatu or Fiji. It would be like a very Asian Mauritius. Poor, living off tourism and agriculture, but not so bad you'd want to leave. It takes work to starve to go hungry here. Even I got bananas, breadfruit and sweet potatos in my backyard.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on December 10, 2009 12:05 AM

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