A lesson in rugged individualism
Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.
Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn't have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.
"It would not have been open this summer, and it probably wouldn't be open next summer," said Bruce Pleas, a local surfer who helped organize the volunteers. "They said it would probably take two years. And with the way they are cutting funds, we felt like they'd never get the money to fix it."
And if the repairs weren't made, some business owners faced the possibility of having to shut down.
Ivan Slack, co-owner of Napali Kayak, said his company relies solely on revenue from kayak tours and needs the state park to be open to operate. The company jumped in and donated resources because it knew that without the repairs, Napali Kayak would be in financial trouble.
"If the park is not open, it would be extreme for us, to say the least," he said. "Bankruptcy would be imminent. How many years can you be expected to continue operating, owning 15-passenger vans, $2 million in insurance and a staff? For us, it was crucial, and our survival was dependent on it. That park is the key to the sheer survival of the business."
So Slack, other business owners and residents made the decision not to sit on their hands and wait for state money that many expected would never come. Instead, they pulled together machinery and manpower and hit the ground running March 23.
And after only eight days, all of the repairs were done, Pleas said. It was a shockingly quick fix to a problem that may have taken much longer if they waited for state money to funnel in.
"We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part," Slack said. "Just like everyone's sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn't wait anymore."
The state government said it would take $4 million to fix, and it would take two years to get the job done. The volunteers, whose livelihood was threatened by this park not getting the repairs it needed, didn't have two years to wait. So they did the job themselves. That, folks, is called rugged individualism. That is what was done at the time of the founding of the nation. People didn't sit around, waiting for the government to do a job that they, themselves, could do.
Was it hard work for the residents? We're sure that it was, but that didn't stop them. The story goes on to point out that tourism is the life-blood for many businesses int he area, and they couldn't wait for the government to come in and fix the problems. Without this fix, their tourist season wouldn't have been good at all, especially with so many businesses facing the possibility of bankruptcy.
Now why doesn't the government want a story like this getting legs?
Because if it does, the public might be inclined to take similar matters into their own hands, and give the bureaucrats the heave ho. Lets' hope this lesson is one that's not just learned by the public, but by the government, as well. We don't need to wait for them to help us when we're perfectly capable of doing it ourselves.