First Published: The Worker, for Hawaii, Vol. 2, No. 1, October-November 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Election time. It’s only been four months since they stabbed us working people in the back with their unemployment bill SB2326 and a year and a half ago when they padded their own pensions and pay raises with our money. Yet these politicians are out full force as any other year making their big pitches to us, bombarding us with their campaign leaflets at work, at shopping centers, at home or scrambling to get equal time on the busiest intersections with their signs and full-toothed smiles. They call themselves “friends of working people.” As they handshake their way through us, they talk about giving a “fair” shake to us common folk–but instead we always end up getting the shakedown from them!
More and more of us are refusing to vote. Time and time again we’ve seen their promises and phony solutions turn sour like a bag of old poi for us, but really sweetened the honey for their big business friends.
Every day we working people are hit by the hardcore reality of no jobs, bad working conditions, crappy health care, dilapidated housing and lousy education for our kids. We can see our whole lives going down the drain. But there’s a growing consciousness among working people that we don’t have to take things as they are. The people of Waiahole-Waikane have taken matters into their own hands by fighting the evictions that the rich people with the help of their laws, their courts and their cops have planned. Cannery workers have walked off the job to fight for a steady 8 hours of work each day, in spite of the bosses’ threats.
It scares the hell out of the rich rulers of this country to see that workers are uniting to fight for what we need, even bucking their laws, their system of rule, if we have to. The rich are trying to prevent more workers from joining this movement, trying to offset our anger by telling us to vote for their front men. To keep us under control, they tell us, “everything will work out if you have trust in the system and use your ’right’ to vote for the best man to do the job.” To stir up more enthusiasm so voters feel that they really are making a big decision in their lives, the media has been playing up certain key races, especially the Fasi-Doi battle.
Fasi has won the Democratic primary for Mayor. Just before the primary he and Doi were going at each other’s throats, running each other into the gutter–their personal integrity and character at stake. But all that really boiled down to is–who could lie the best?
Many voted for Fasi. Their reason? “He may be a crook, but at least he gets things done.” His whole campaign revolves around his image as the Action Man; Mr. Tough Guy who goes against the council to get what he wants; and parading his list of miniscule accomplishments. One worker commented, “What’s there to thank him for? It was our money and labor that did those things anyway and he just took the credit. Why should we thank him for the things we deserve anyway?”
The people who should really be thanking Fasi are his rich class friends he’s been serving all along. The Kukui Plaza scandal pretty much proved that the Good Guy in white roped a lot of juicy city contracts for his developer friends under the guise of “low” cost housing. Although he publicizes the improvement of city services under his administration and his “sincere” concern for the public’s health in case of a public workers’ strike, he is proposing to cut refuse routes to 1 day/week, which will mean layoffs–a direct attack on refuse workers. So much for the public’s health and safety too!
As Mayor he has the authority to send in the cops to evict the people of Waiahole-Waikane from their homes. It’s a power he will use to help guarantee the landlord’s property rights over the people and pave the way for rich businessmen and developers to make their profits.
Doi, during his whole campaign, had nothing really to say except everything bad you ever wanted to know about Fasi. Besides giving us old news, his anti-Fasi platform didn’t fool the people one bit that his record is any better than Fasi’s. Although he shut up about himself and where he stood on the issues, he definitely is in the Ariyoshi camp that passed SB2326 cutting off unemployment benefits for hundreds of workers and saving the bosses millions of dollars.
As Lt. Governor his pet project was to build a newer and bigger prison to cage more working people. Instead of getting into why more and more working people are forced to steal and commit crimes because of rising unemployment and living in hell-like conditions, his solution is to lock more of us up.
He has publicly stated that Waiahole-Waikane people are in the wrong and favors evictions. But of course he doesn’t go on to say that Joe Pao, the developer who wants to kick out the people, has contributed $1,000 to his campaign.
Now that the race is over, it’s most likely Fasi will grab the general election on Nov. 2 and he’ll be up to his dirty tricks against the people. He came out “clean” in the race but he’ll slink back into his mud-colored administration. He and Doi never even came out and said where they stood on issues that really concerned the people’s livelihood.
One reason is that they really have no answer, no solutions as to how to better the lives of working people. These 2 political bums have their life cut out for them and that is to fight among each other to see who can be the best stooge for the ruling class here.
With unemployment here up to 9% and rising, the capitalists and their politicians are finding it impossible to duck the question of jobs. Faced with growing anger and an increasingly organized fight for Jobs or Income from unemployed workers, the politicians have been forced to take a stand on unemployment.
Even millionaire Cec Heftel has come out with a phony show of sympathy for the unemployed in his drive for a US House seat. Heftel doesn’t tell us how he intends to bring unemployment down. But he and defeated Democratic candidate Patsy Mink have quietly voiced support for the Humphrey-Hawkins “Full Employment Act.”
“Full Employment Act” is pretty accurate–the Humphrey-Hawkings bill is just one big act. Under the cover of providing jobs this plan would open the door to wage cutting, forcing workers into jobs paying way below union wages. We get a pretty good idea of the kind of jobs the capitalists have in mind when we hear Jimmy Carter say, “Why should we pay people $80 a week to do nothing when they can be put to work for $100 a week rebuilding the railroads.”
If this wolf in sheep’s clothing plan sounds familiar, it’s because we have seen how other temporary government jobs programs have been used against us. Programs like CETA and the State’s SCET program have created only a few non-union jobs. While used as a weapon to hold down the wages of regular workers, these programs have been no solution for the unemployed. Although US House candidate Dan Akaka likes to talk about how he helped create the SCET program, he doesn’t ever mention that the hundreds of SCET workers will be laid off in December–not even a full year since they were hired.
We’ve been told that the New Deal, Johnson’s Great Society programs, and now Humphrey-Hawkins would be the magic solution to our problems. Yet after these programs have come and gone, the oozing sore of unemployment has only gotten worse. We need medicine to kill the infection but all the capitalists offer are more band aids.
It’s not that they’re withholding the cure, though. They offer no cure because they have no cure. Unemployment is a natural part of their system and making a law to get rid of it is like trying to cure cancer by making it illegal. For the capitalist there is only one law–the law of profits. The closing of companies, low wages, speed-up, and layoffs are part of everyday life under a system where capitalists compete with each other by squeezing out as much wealth as they can from our labor. Only as long as the capitalists can make a profit from our sweat do they give us the “right” to slave for them.
As their rate of profit continues to fall like a dead duck, the only way to keep their profits up is to grind more from workers. As more and more of these attacks are launched, workers have responded with walkouts, mass demonstrations and other forms of resistance. The capitalists hate and fear this growing fight back. But they are even more afraid that the masses of people will begin to see that all our problems are a result, not just of a handful of greedy bosses, but that these problems are a permanent part of life under the ruling capitalist class and their whole rotten system.
With the elections the capitalists are trying their best to convince us that we really run the country. To try to spread this illusion First Hawaiian Bank cooked up a TV ad that lectures, “49% of those eligible to vote aren’t even registered. It’s a shame, because if there’s one place you can really have a say, it’s here (in the voting booth). Vote! Because if you don’t, you’ve got nothing to say.” But residents of Waiahole-Waikane, who have been fighting evictions for years, have had plenty to say about what happens to their lives–but they haven’t been saying it in a voting booth. If they used all the “solutions” that the bosses tried to push on them, they would have had nothing to say at all about the evictions.
The courts all ruled in the eyes of the law, the landlords and developers are legally right and the people are wrong. Politicians have offered nothing except pity because, as Fasi said, “The law is the law.” To this one resident told the Mayor, “It looks like this is government of the rich, for the rich and against the people.”
“When we went to picket the landlord’s house, it was ’illegal’. When we demonstrated at Honolulu Federal Savings and Loan they told us that was “illegal’. But when the landlords go to court and use their cops to kick us out of our homes it’s perfectly ’legal’. Faced with this reality the people have taken a stand–the law isn’t our law. To protect ourselves we have to stand up to it.
When the people in the valleys united on this stand, they took it out to the people outside. In building for last month’s solidarity rally, the residents stood on Kahekili Highway with a big sign that read, “We rely on ourselves, not the politicians!” Motorists passed the flock of politicians by without a toot, but responded to the Waiahole-Waikane people and their sign with honking horns and shouts of unity. Hundreds of people went to the rally and joined in a defense drill that served as a warning to Fasi that he’d better keep his stinking cops out. Only by taking the fight out broadly to unite as many people as possible have the people been able to build the strength that has kept them in their homes. It is this kind of strength that we can and have to build in every one of our battles.
The capitalists have set their election bait in a trap hoping to catch us and keep us away from our only effective weapon–the struggles that we build against them. But the bait smells rotten and we cant afford to bite it. As the ruling class tries to herd us into the polling places on election day, November 2, the unemployed are calling a demonstration of all people to show that we must fight on our own to win the things we need.
POLITICIANS FIGHT FOR $ INTERESTS, WE MUST FIGHT FOR OUR OWN!