Monday, 1 April 2013

Cheap Ken



You know, Hawaii is really and truly a paradise. It is the standard that we measure paradise by. All of the movies and books describe some aspect of this place when they talk or depict it at all.

Those that have never been, might think that every beach is lined with condos and huge hotels, but that isn't the case. Compared to Canada, the Hawaiian Islands are just a few tiny dots of land, which size wise are pretty insignificant. That may well be, but when you are standing or driving on one of the islands, you begin to get a feeling for how big “tiny” can be. Here, all of the beaches are communal and no one can own the beach. I suspect that there are de facto exceptions to the rules, but for the most part I could flaunt my fat, white body on any beach in the chain.

Paradise.

Well, not really for everyone. The economic downturn has been felt here as it has been all over the world. Most of the economy of the islands rely on disposable income, from Macadamia nuts, pineapple, whale watching, surf lessons, gift shops and restaurants. We were in an outdoor mall the other day and I would say that at least half of the units were empty. There were very few people, and the stores that remained open seemed to be depressed if you can say that about a store.

Of course there is an economy, with a population as large as this there are jobs that need to be done and people are very resilient. No matter how bad the economy might get, there will always be people with money to spend and if there are vacation deals, those with some disposable cash will take advantage of an opportunity. I have walked down the beach a few times and every time I have noticed people that seem to be living off of the land. I haven't talked to them, so I don't know if the lifestyle is of their own choosing or not.

If you are going to live outside and off of the land, then this would be the place to do it. The weather is beautiful for the most part and the only place that it will reach -40 is inside some commercial freezer in one of the big hotels. There is an abundance of natural food growing and the ocean is filled with all sorts of edible creatures. Sure, some just might find you edible, but that is the chance you take. So far we have just kept within a stones throw of the ocean, but there is some rugged land where people could set up housekeeping on the interior of the island.

I went to McDonald’s for breakfast this morning (free wifi) and there was a guy begging at the entrance. I only had a $20 at the time, but I was determined to give him a couple of bucks on the way out no matter what “cheap Ken” said to me. Even “generous Ken” wasn't about to give a bum twenty bucks. It turns out that the two Kens didn't have to fight or make a decision as the homeless guy left before I got outside. Sure, I had to sit there for three hours, but he was the one to leave first.

I don't know why I am surprised that there are homeless people here, I just am. I sit here in this condo looking out at the ocean where there are several yachts anchored and wonder about a world that can have such a vast discrepancy of income levels. Yes, I know that some people just don't want to work hard and there are others that can't do anything else. This is the land of equal opportunity, not equality.

The cool breeze beckons me to come out and play, and I will soon acquiesce. I have decided that I want to be one of the “more equal” people in the world, because this is much nicer than sitting on the concrete outside of McDonald’s hoping that “cheap Ken” will lose the argument.

Nature thrives on abundance, only man thrives upon scarcity.  

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