The TMT Corporation would have you believe that their scholarships and Hawaii Workforce Pipeline Program contributions offer essential education and career opportunities for our youth. But looking through a wider lens reveals a different perspective.

TMT vs. Hawai‘i Community Organizations

When we consider learning opportunities in Hawai‘i, we see many organizations helping to ensure that our youth are set up to succeed.

Looking at just a small sample of 13 Hawai‘i organizations, their 2018 annual reports and financial statements reveal that they collectively invested more than $556 million in schools, education programs, scholarships, job training, and related community programs. These organizations are strongly connected to Hawaiʻi and are addressing key challenges and opportunities in our communities.

When TMT’s scholarships and funding for workforce development are combined with the $556 million from Hawaiʻi organizations, TMT’s contribution represents only .22% of the total—less than a quarter of 1 percent.

Sample of Investments in Education and Community Programs in Hawai‘i *
TMT’s contribution represents only 0.22% of the 2018 total — less than a quarter of 1 percent. View the raw data.
* Inclusion of organizations in this data set is not connected to support or opposition to the TMT project.

As much as the TMT corporation and its proponents contend their contributions are vital for Hawaiʻi’s well-being, the truth is that Hawaiʻi’s own organizations are carrying the vast majority of that responsibility.

Moreover, the $556 million investment of the 13 organizations does not include what the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education and the majority of private schools dedicates to Hawaiʻi’s youth. If these huge figures were added to the equation, TMT’s relative contribution would be far smaller.

While certainly every dollar dedicated to Hawaiʻi’s youth and the communities that nurture them is a dollar well spent–whether from TMT or Hawaiʻi charitable organizations–the question remains: What are the tradeoffs for the 0.22% sliver of TMT contributions?

For the kiaʻi defending Maunakea, there is no sum of dollars or jobs that would support a “pay to play” approach. Maunakea is not for sale. The question is certainly not whether the “pay” part of the equation is too low. The question is whether the actual price Hawaiʻi will pay for allowing TMT to “play” will be worth it. The TMT “pay to play” costs for Hawaiʻi are huge. These costs have or will:

  • Incite divisiveness within Hawaiʻi ʻohana, workplaces, and communities.
  • Destroy over 6 acres of untouched habitat in a most revered cultural space within a protected conservation zone.
  • Trample upon Hawaiʻi’s most deeply held cultural values.
  • Establish a Hawaiʻi Supreme Court “degradation principle” precedent that excuses projects’ detrimental impacts due to damage caused by earlier projects.
  • Create deep resentment and distrust for Hawaiʻi’s government agencies among a majority of Native Hawaiians, and many more who stand on the same set of values, who are being told through government actions that their values are secondary to foreign and continental corporate interests.

TMT Jobs vs. Hawaiʻi County Jobs

TMT also boasts that it would provide 140 permanent jobs to operate the TMT once it’s completed. If the generous assumption is made that half of the positions would go to local folks, this figure would represent only 0.10% of the jobs available in Hawaiʻi County. Another consideration is that the other half of the non-Hawaiʻi residents who would hold the TMT jobs would bring increased demands on Hawaiʻi Island’s resources, especially its already tight housing market.

If the 300 temporary construction jobs were considered, that would represent only 0.43% of Hawaiʻi County jobs for the eight years that TMT anticipates the construction would take.

Permanent jobs created by TMT vs. Hawaiʻi County total jobs in 2018
TMT also boasts that it would provide 140 permanent jobs to operate the TMT once it’s completed. If the generous assumption is made that half of the positions would go to local folks, this figure would represent only 0.10% of the jobs available in Hawaiʻi County.

Now that we see the bigger picture, crucial questions remain

Is TMT’s frequently cited monetary contributions and jobs truly worth the full cost our community will bear if the TMT is allowed a “pay to play” opportunity?

If we continue to operate on this “pay to play” principle, what else will our government leaders be willing to give up?

Are there other projects that could be encouraged in Hawai‘i that create jobs, enhance the vitality of our environment, and are consistent with our community’s values?

This article was produced and published by Kanaeokana, a network of 65 Hawaiian focused schools (preschool through post-HS), ‘āina-based organizations, and Hawaiian institutions who seek to strengthen the lāhui and nurture the next generations of aloha ʻāina leaders. Kanaeokana believes that developing and sharing educational materials that build greater understanding of how projects in Hawaiʻi impact learners, ʻohana, and communities is an important function of our network.
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