Friday, April 13, 2007

The Rich Ripping Off the Rich

Big scandal in Hawaii! When I first read about it, I was outraged. It's a scam being put on in plain sight. And what's worse – the most outrageous thing about it – it is politically correct! It looks like charity, but is really the work of the devil!

Here's how it works: The Japanese real estate tycoon and multi-millionaire Genshiro Kawamoto recently bought up a handful of villas in Hawaii' richest neighborhood, Kahala, and promptly let them just sit there and rot or a few years. Now, he' doing something – he's pulling a spectacular media stunt by letting eight poor native Hawaiian families live in those villas rent-free for ten years. (Read about it in the New York Times and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.)

But what looks like a big charity thing is of course just the opposite: This is almost certainly a gamble to push down the high Kahala real estate values so he can by up more plots. The unemployed tenants will most likely drive down the prices. The poor people of Hawaii are just being used (of course, rent-free is still rent-free, so it's not like they have any big disadvantages). (Real estate in Hawaii has always been very attractive to Japanese investors – most of the big hotels belong to Japanese). It's a bald-faced scam that really makes your blood boil for about five minutes. Then you realize:

1) Kahala residents are not exactly helpless. If they were, they wouldn't be living where they're living now. If the rich folks at Kahala are smart, they'll band together and do something – either they'll take the issue to court or, if that doesn't work, get the poor people who have moved in good jobs and cheap landscaping help so the houses are upkept and the prices stay high.

2) This is not about normal folks like you and me. The people who might lose money are just as rich as Kawamoto. This is a war among the rich. I say: let the rich kill each other off. That's fine with me.

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