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Is the Mega Mall a Good Example of Capitalism?

August 2, 2012
Alana Kay - Candidate for South Maui County Council 2012 , The Maui Weekly

We are continually redefining the meaning and role of government, as well as its relationship to all people and things. The circumstances surrounding the impending development in Kihei--Pi'ilani Promenade and Maui Outlets--are a great demonstration of how our accepted versions of capitalism and free markets need to be tweaked.

Genuine capitalism would require that there is equal opportunity for all and that all follow the laws properly. Any entity that is deceiving people, breaking laws, bending laws, engaging in favored influence in any form is not involved in the equation that makes capitalism the great thing that it is meant to be. So, when people dog capitalism, unfortunately, they are not referring to a system that is free flowing and free of bugs. I sometimes wonder if we have ever really had the chance to see true, free markets and true capitalism at work. I believe that our system has been wrought with deception, favoritism, corruption and a general disregard and disrespect for the average citizen-- none more blatantly obvious than that being demonstrated by this recent debacle on Maui.

With regard to the development being put into the backyards of many South Maui residents, it is my understanding that the Land Use Commission and the County of Maui entitled the original proposed development with an obtusely different set of plans than the one now proposed. Additionally, the developer has not fulfilled an even larger list of things that had been required by the powers that be to develop the site.

Set to be adjacent to the new Kihei High School, this development spawns a slightly updated intersection at the juncture of Ka'ono'ulu Street and the Pi'ilani Highway, which will be operating at service level F on an A-to-F scale. It appears as though this was not considered acceptable to the state Department of Transportation, but the Land Use Commission approved it anyway.

In consideration of all of this sidestepping, this is a maddening example of how government and large entities often serve themselves a huge helping of workarounds, law-bending and just plain deception in achieving their goals.

When we, as singular citizens, go to renew our driver's licenses, apply for a building permit, do our taxes or need some plumbing done, we are held to impossibly high standards of perfection in the process, are sent back to our camp to make sure we have crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's before we are given the go-ahead. We also do not graduate from school with F's. Instead, we are severely fined, penalized and punished for violation in these processes.

The deflection used in these cases is often the promise of jobs. The provision of the said 2,000 or so jobs that the mall is projected to bring in, if it is indeed successful, is another kick in the pants to Mauians who know all too well that the cost of living here requires a family of three to make at least $58,000 a year just to survive, and that most retail jobs to not fit this criteria.

The 200 or so construction jobs are temporary and once again, provide a benefit that is directed at a limited group of citizens. What about the rest of us who are not being handed this type of union wages? Given the fact that the developer is from outside Maui County, further negatively impacting the economic equation, I wonder how much more we can tip the scales away from the largest portion of the citizens of Maui and continue to thrive at all.

Letters have been sent to appropriate departments and an appeal has been filed. Many South Maui residents are insisting that justice be done in this matter, and I would really like to see people on the rest of Maui stand up in support of these residents. I believe that it is time that we demand that we all enjoy a level playing field in all aspects of life here, and stop allowing the bureaucrats to do whatever they want with our land and our money.



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