Friday, August 24, 2012

Man Buys Island, Controls Lives of Thousands

The New York Times has an intriguing article about Larry Ellison's purchase of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. The article demonstrates, very poignantly, the relationship between property ownership and power:

Lanai’s new owner is Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle. He bought 98 percent of the island — the remainder is government property and privately owned homes . . . .  Mr. Ellison now owns the [only] gas station, the car rental agency and the supermarket. He owns . . .  the two Four Seasons resorts, two championship golf courses, about 500 cottages and luxury homes, a solar farm, and nearly every single one of the small shops and cafes that line Lanai City. He owns 88,000 acres of overgrown pineapple fields and arid, boulder-strewn hills, thick with red dust, as well as 50 miles of beaches.

Sally Kaye, a former prosecutor . . .  wrote in an open letter to the new owner that was published by Honolulu Civil Beat, a news site. She described Lanai as an island that had “been owned and exploited by one really rich guy or another” for 150 years and whose residents live in a “medieval lord-of-the-manor system of control.”

Steve Clowney

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I have lived on the island of Principe in West Africa where a resort pretty much controlled the islands economy and again in Nicaragua where an island with a population of just a few hundred people felt controlled by the tourism industry that was it's only real form of income. Having this kind of control when you move into an environment is not always bad, but needs to be evaluated by everyone involved.

Posted by: Eco Island Life | Dec 9, 2012 6:05:43 AM

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