Sunday, November 4, 2001
Trickle-down theory isn't the answerThe economic doctors of Hawaii have a novel way to treat our economic malaise. Their remedy is to give those at the very top of our economic pyramid a massive dose of monetary medicine, hoping the benefits will trickle down to the working masses below.
Meanwhile, our economic engineers attempt to revive "the engine that drives Hawaii's economy" by aiding its owners and tinkering with the engine rather than developing other engines and aiding the workers who fuel and run all of our engines.
Richard Y. Will
Same old ideas won't help economyIt pains me deeply to read about yet another round of economic recovery plans for Hawaii. This time the danger is so very real and yet mostly out of our control.
For 25 years, as a businessman in Hawaii, I attended many such meetings, all replete with good ideas and wrap-up reports. The results? Nothing changed; business as usual.
As long as there is a cookie jar to raid (airport funds, bond issues) the politicians and their ol' boy buddies would put a band-aid on the problem and go back to praising themselves and their 1950s ideologies.
Big government policies, micro-managed programs and top-down edicts haven't worked before and they won't work now.
Hawaii has to make a home for business, a home for growth. The examples are there and the commonality is in an acceptance of open markets, a competitive structure and fair taxes, not more bureaucrats, government programs, protected monopolies and sheltered labor pools.
Richard K. Rice
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Waikiki wasn't alluring even before attacksBefore the Sept. 11 tragedy, there were and still are several things wrong with Waikiki.
First, even with the City Council's and Jeremy Harris' efforts to improve Waikiki, Brett White and the ACLU have been able to keep street performers and other non-monitored street vendors safe in Waikiki. What other resort area has this kind of atmosphere?
Next, the hotels refuse to lower rates to attract tourists because it will hamper their image as first-class resort areas.
Third, no new attractions have been built in or around Waikiki for several years. Even if you spend $100 million on advertising, you still have the same attractions.
Garrick M. Kashiwa
"It would definitely spur much-needed economic activity; legislators are in a position to make it a slightly merrier Christmas for Hawaii families." Rep. Barbara Marumoto
Republican from Waialae, pushing unsuccessfully for an excise tax holiday as the special session of the Legislature wound down Friday.
"Sometimes, it's just plain luck, or bad luck." Lt. Charles Hirata
Maui police officer with the traffic division, on the year-to-year fluctuation in the number of fatalities related to car accidents. Maui vehicle deaths are at the same level as last year, while Oahu's tally is up and the Big Island's down.
Emergency powers bill is good legislationI commend John Flanagan for his thoughtful and honest column (Star-Bulletin "Talk Story," Oct. 30) that brings some balance to the emotionally skewed controversy regarding increased emergency powers for the governor. It's apparent that he took the time to read and understand the entire bill.
No one is fully comfortable with giving the most powerful man in Hawaii even more authority. When the original Senate-authored bill first surfaced, House Democrats raised many of the same points. That's why we insisted on strict criteria to trigger such powers and to limit their scope and duration.
But two questions drove our thinking. First, is there an emergency or not? Our collective answer is "yes." Given that, what would the best mechanism to effectively respond to our confirmed emergencies as well as to any unforeseen crisis needing immediate attention? We agreed that the appropriate level to invest such extraordinary authority and responsibility was in the office of the state's highest elected official.
Nowhere amid the screeching and general tirade opposing this measure has anyone offered a viable alternative.
Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro
Cayetano made the tough decisionsThis is the time of year to count our blessings. Included on my list is Ben Cayetano.
Unfortunately, many have been led to believe that spending taxpayers' money, even when it's not available, is one of the marks of a good governor.
In 1994 Hawaii was virtually bankrupt and riddled with corruption, in both the legislative and administrative branches. Faced with this situation, Cayetano was forced to make the difficult decisions that have made him very unpopular in the eyes of many.
As a small business owner and the father of seven, I am glad that he will be given expanded authority to help Hawaii through these difficult times. Hail, "King Ben"!
Airlines' welfare check beggars taxpayersThe airline bailout enriches stockholders at the expense of taxpayers. The airlines walked away from Congress with a $15 billion welfare check. Not a penny is going to the thousands who were laid off. Heaven forbid that those airline CEO's take a pay cut; how could they survive on $11 million a year?
September 11 is no reason to tax the working people. The airlines were going to be in the same place they are today regardless. They were already going downhill. Insulating them from the realities of the market is quite unwise. A shake-out in the industry has to take place.
To invoke the Sept. 11 tragedy and beg for money is pure opportunism. Cashing in on the thousands of deaths is cold-hearted.
Just days after Congress approved the bailout for the industry, United Airlines' parent company made a down payment on 30 brand-new luxury business jets that fly celebrities and the ultra-rich around the world. This is outrageous.
How about a bailout for the poor? I'd rather subsidize homeless shelters, vouchers (rental, grocery and medical) and drug rehabilitation centers.
Rev. Todd C. Wetmore
Universal Life Church Sacred Earth Ministries
Military should remove Shinto toriiIn his Oct. 31 letter, Mike Pettingill asserted that the Shinto torii is a mere cultural symbol and not also a religious one. In support of his argument, he pointed to a red torii installed at a U.S. military installment in Okinawa. He wrongly asserted that "nobody on Okinawa thought the gate had any religious significance."
Like Pettingill, I have also spent time in Okinawa. But unlike Pettingill, I was researching separation of Shinto and state and was not in the military. I discovered that many people on Okinawa, particularly Japanese Christians, are offended by the religious nature of the torii at "Torii Station."
These Okinawans have vivid memories of the use of Shintoism to promote Japanese militarism during World War II, the consequences of which Okinawa bore a heavy burden. In fact, it was this link between Shintoism and Japanese militarism that prompted the inclusion of separation of religion and state in the post-war Japanese Constitution in the first place.
Given these concerns, the U.S. military should take down the torii in Okinawa, just as the city of Honolulu should take down the one here.
Brent T. White
Legal director, American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii
Just who has been wronged anyway?Why do people in Afghanistan feel wronged when they are bombed? Nearly 6,000 Americans were killed in an instant Sept. 11 and they had nothing to do with the Palestine cause. Weren't they wronged? Retaliation is a logical consequence of being attacked, and they should be answerable for an act that they masterminded.
You can jump, wave your fists and burn effigies in front of cameras but that will not deprive Americans of their trust and loyalty to their country; it has only strengthened and united us. The terrorists' behavior is shameful to their religion, their country and their forefathers. The historical accomplishments of the Arab world (medicine, mathematics, and the great philosophies) have been tarnished.
America sent troops and bombed Afghanistan to try to bring certain individuals to justice. In doing so, we try to right a wrong with compassion (food drops) and restraint. We continue to aid the Arabs, though our efforts go unappreciated. It's inappropriate to claim "we (Afghanistan) have been wronged." What's wrong is they picked a fight with the wrong nation.
Using nuclear weapons should be consideredOn a somewhat larger scale of due retribution for Pearl Harbor, I don't suppose that three or four strategically placed atom bombs would be appreciated by Afghanistan. But the message would be loud and clear. This constant suspense served by Osama bin Laden's underground cohorts should be exterminated from the face of this planet.
John L. Werrill
HEI gets a taste of its own medicineHawaiian Electric Industries' decision to back out of the fossil fuel business abroad is a welcome move to those concerned about our global environment (Star-Bulletin, Nov. 1).
Now, the developing econ-omies in the Pacific and Asia have the perfect opportunity to "leapfrog" 20th-century, dirty fossil fuel plants into 21st-century clean energy solutions.
Instead of meeting the needs of these countries with distributed and economical power, HEI's vision was to saddle them with large, centralized, polluting power plants that require massive distribution infrastructure and continuing dependence on fossil fuels.
HEI's construction of a coal-fired plant in Inner Mongolia -- a region rich with land and wind energy potential -- reflects the company's antipathy toward developing renewable energy. The fantastic irony in the China project was HEI's difficulty in obtaining an agreement to connect to Inner Mongolia Power Co.'s utility grid. For the numerous renewable energy generators in Hawaii who HECO has denied an interconnection agreement, Hawaiian Electric got a bitter taste of their own medicine.
Uncooperative government policies that reward the status quo and roadblocks by a monopolistic utility that controls who gets to tie into the grid -- problems that HEI faced abroad -- are nearly identical to the obstacles that HEI imposes on independent renewable energy producers in Hawaii.
Sustainable solutions do exist for Hawaii and abroad: wind, solar power and fuel cells powered by hydrogen. Let's hope HEI's reversal of corporate strategy abroad portends a change in its local policy toward renewable energy producers.
Director Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter
Let Heco put up transmission linesThe Board of Land and Natural Resources should authorize Hawaiian Electric Co. to proceed with installing transmission lines on Waahila Ridge.
The circuit is essential to back up the two 35-year-old lines that today are the only source of power for Waikiki, the engine of our state's economy.
The circuit is necessary to insure adequate reliability and to maintain service during emergencies resulting from human error, failure of aging equipment and intentional acts of sabotage. Overhead lines can be repaired much faster than underground circuits.
Dispersed generation in customers facilities may have merit where reducing the utility's load can defer the need for a new transmission line. However, that is not the case for the Waahila Ridge line where the existing transmission lines are very old and the nature of the customer load in Waikiki requires an improved level of reliability.
With the state's economy in such bad shape, forcing Hawaiian Electric to spend an additional $15 million to bury the lines underground would be extremely wasteful and certainly inappropriate at this time.
Alan S. Lloyd
The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.