to the Editor

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Friday, April 5, 2002

U.S. founding papers don't mention God

In his letter to the editor, Matt Smith claims that "our country was founded on biblical principles" (Star-Bulletin, April 2). Exactly which biblical principles, I wonder? I've read the Bible cover to cover more than once and find most of the stories to be absurd, immoral and obscene, if taken literally. I've also studied the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. Contrary to Smith's claim, there is not a single mention of the Bible, Christianity, Jesus or God in any of these founding documents of the United States.

Fortunately, the founders established a constitutional government based upon secular, nonreligious principles. Unfortunately, there are occasional violations (e.g., Good Friday as a state holiday and "In God We Trust" printed on money) when arrogant and zealous politicians have pushed their personal religious preferences into government.

Unlike Smith, I understand that the Bible is an ancient religious text, containing mostly myth and allegory. From that perspective, the Bible has substance and merit. As a guide for reasonable governance in modern society, however, the Bible has about as much relevance as Mother Goose.

Mitchell Kahle
Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church

Hawaii could celebrate 'Human Principles'

Why not replace the Good Friday holiday with a "Religious/Human Principles Day?"

Each religion in America has certain principles, which, if followed, would greatly enhance respect toward one another, justice, compassion, kindness, patience, responsibility and promotion of the general welfare of all Hawaii residents.

I bet that even Mitch Kahle could get behind a holiday where Christians promoted honesty, integrity, compassion, tolerance and social justice, while Buddhists promoted the eightfold path as a way toward a better civil society. In fact, each religious tradition, as well as the atheists among us, could put forth the best principles of their belief system.

A Religious/Human Principles Day would be far more inclusive and instructive that the present Good Friday holiday that is exclusively a Christian holiday. Even most Christians have a hard time explaining to their friends why we Christians call it "good," but that's another story.

Rev. Dr. John T. Norris
Moanalua Community Church
United Church of Christ

Bottle bill won't hurt drink companies

While attending a House Finance Committee Meeting last Friday concerning the bottle bill, it dawned on me that Coke, Pepsi and Budweiser are obviously making a fortune selling corn-syrup water and beech wood in Iowa, Oregon, Vermont, Michigan and the rest of the 10 bottle-refund states, so why are they spending millions to fight this law that Hawaii clearly needs?

Do they like beverage-container litter on all our streets, parks and beaches?

Where is their sensitivity to the beauty of Hawaii?

Somehow, we need to smoke them out and get them running. We should get together and support the bottle bill.

William Reese Liggett

Traffic-cam money doesn't benefit state

There have been a lot of letters criticizing the camera van program, but none touch upon the most important point -- what this program is doing to our economy. Regardless of whether the program becomes self-sufficient, the result is that money, less local expenses, goes to the camera-van company and is lost forever to the economy of Hawaii.

Economists, I think, would call this a decelerator. Now contrast that with money raised by raising taxes. First, all of the money generated would belong to the state. Definitely better than only keeping two-thirds of it, wouldn't you agree?

Second, all of this money is now available to the state to re-spend in Hawaii. No decelerator effect here. Of course, having the money available to spend here and actually spending it here are another story.

Bottom line, the camera van system is a drain on our economy.

Earl S.C. Lau

Retail tax holiday would help businesses

Regarding the story "Cayetano lashes Legislature" (Star-Bulletin, March 29):

What happened to the retail tax holiday? It was one of the many economic stimulus bills passed out of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business, which is headed by Lei Ahu Isa. But it died in the Big Black Hole -- the House Finance Committee.

Chairwoman Ahu Isa and her committee members passed out many pro-business measures such as tax benefits for the tourist, high-tech, film and construction industries and for live performances. Her committee also supported relief from onerous general excise taxes on employee leasing companies, as well as some red-tape-cutting measures.

A three-day retail holiday from the general excise tax on items under $100 would have helped thousands of small businesses to increase their sales. Few measures have emerged from the House to help Hawaii's beleaguered economy. That is the tragedy.

Governor Cayetano is grumpy, but his anger is directed at the wrong committee chairmen.

Rep. Barbara Marumoto
17th district

Construction jobs shouldn't get tax funds

Governor Cayetano requests $1 billion of taxpayer money for the construction industry. The legislators slash that to $500 million. I suspect that $500 million was the governor's target in the first place.

In the end our government, based on its track record, will spend -- no, waste $1 billion.

Our government must not assist the construction industry in this manner. Our government should do more to create demand. However, that is a tall and incomprehensible task for our "politicians." Privatize!

W. Keola Choo

Mayor's deal with UPW costs taxpayers plenty

The state Labor Relations Board has ruled that the city can not reassign refuse workers from Pearl City to Kakaako even though it would save several hundred thousand dollars of unnecessary overtime wages each year.

Because our mayor made an "agreement" with Gary Rodrigues and the United Public Workers that no one would be reassigned once the automatic trash trucks went into service, taxpayers have to pay the bill.

If union leaders really cared about Hawaii residents, they would have tried to reach a less costly compromise instead of taking the hard-line approach of forcing the city before the labor board.

How could anyone reach the conclusion that a manager cannot assign employees where needed to ensure that an efficient job is performed? This ruling does not serve the people of Honolulu. It only serves those who will benefit from not having to perform a full day's work while being paid for one. It flies in the face of normal reasoning.

This ruling sets the stage for the next phase. The proposed reassigning of city and county, as well as state workers, from Honolulu to Kapolei. Kapolei's government buildings may be empty for a lot longer, folks.

Now, do you really have to wonder why we are in such a financial pinch? Sadly, the end result is that the taxpayers will go broke long before the government we have, like lemmings, elected time and time again. Hurry up, November.

Jim Fromm

Hurricane fund has met its obligations

Josephine Clay sums up her April 1 letter to the editor with the words, "Do not use the remaining money in the hurricane fund for show-off boondoggle projects while cutting libraries, schools and social services."

The money in the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund is needed precisely to avoid injurious cuts to libraries, schools and social programs. Long-term assets such as the medical school are funded through bonds. These projects will greatly improve our economic and social well-being long into the future.

Unfortunately, even though the state's purchase of reinsurance to cover homeowners far exceeded what homeowners paid into the hurricane fund in premiums, a few politicians seeking to gain favor with the electorate have promoted the erroneous thinking that homeowners are entitled to a refund.

HHRF has met its obligation to policyholders; homeowners received the coverage they paid for, and the fund now is inactive. Even if there were a hurricane tomorrow, none of the money in the HHRF would be used to provide any kind of relief.

Common-sense leadership says that the balance in the fund is a state asset, and it should be used to provide services to our community.

Jackie Kido
Director of Communications
Office of the Governor

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