Sunday, May 26, 2002
State owes no apology for business climateSo the far-right Forbes magazine has done another hatchet job on paradise, deriding our tax and business climate. This is the same Forbes operation that in 1997 called us "The Peoples Republic of Hawaii." As usual for the far right, it's utter bull. For example, we have among the lowest property and sales taxes in the nation, and retiree annuities are not subject to state tax.
Due to outside forces, during the 1990s the four pillars of Hawaii's economy collapsed. Tourism, defense spending, sugar and pineapple "wen maki."
It's akin to steel leaving Youngstown or Buick leaving Flint. Anywhere else this would have been an economic disaster. But at its worst, Hawaii's unemployment never reached 8 percent. Under these circumstances, Hawaii's economic performance, though strained, was nothing short of spectacular. And to the extent that government controls economic performance, ours has earned a well-deserved mahalo nui loa.
Could it be that the Forbes article is an effort to bolster Linda Lingle's gubernatorial campaign? After all, she nearly won the last election abusing this very issue.
Passport request befit Governor CayetanoThat hotel in Las Vegas had it right when they asked Governor Ben for a passport. They certainly weren't taking any chances after reading the oh-so-true Forbes article.
Teach manners at home, not at schoolI disagree with Chen Li's May 23 letter advocating the teaching of etiqutte in the classroom.
This is a concept that needs to be taught at home, along with personal hygiene and numerous other subjects that have somehow landed on the teachers' plate. It's time for parents to step up and get involved in the rearing of their children.
If parents leave this kind of responsibility up to the teachers, their children will learn the teachers' ideas, which may not be in tune with their own. Teachers are not substitue parents.
Schools shouldn't have to teach etiquetteIn regard to the May 23 letter, "Etiquette should be taught in schools," what happened to parental responsibilities, and then why just place the added burden on the state Department of Education?
I imagine that it is just one thing less for parents to be responsible for. It used to be that schools were responsible for teaching academics and parents took care of morals, respect, etiquette, hygiene, sex education and the like.
Hawaii can learn from Buddhist economicsCongratulations to Hawai'i Honpa Hongwangi on its announcement of its intention to begin the Pacific Buddhist Academy. This precedent bodes well for Hawaii's future. One of the dhamma's eight steps in the path to personal enlightenment and humanity's liberation is "right livelihood" -- the integration of economic activity with spiritual values including compassion, community and the interconnectedness of all life.
It is this Buddhist ecological view of economics that allows us to see modern calamities like urban poverty and environmental destruction as inevitable products of ego-driven overconsumption and unsustainable exploitation of resources. Unlike modern economics, the buddhadamma teaches that true prosperity for the individual and society is possible only through a middle path that conserves the finite products of nature that alone provide wealth for our contentment.
As Pacific Buddhist Academy advances a program and curricula for its first graduating class of 2007, I encourage it to extend this dialogue on Buddhist economics to the wider sangha (community) of Hawaii. Our people have never been so much in need of this liberating wisdom as in this age of dependence on far-flung markets and globalization.
Democrats block judicial nomineePresident Bush nominated Miguel Estrada in May 2001 to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, along with 11 other qualified candidates for other judgeships. Bush said he has moved quickly to nominate judges "in an effort to address the current crisis at the Circuit Court level." Just recently, Senate Democrats dismissed a nominee in committee who was rated well qualified by the American Bar Association and had the support of a majority of senators.
Estrada may be next. His confirmation is stalled in the Senate because Democrats are putting partisan politics before the stability of our court system.
Estrada personifies the American dream. Estrada emigrated to the United States at age 17, taught himself English, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
If confirmed, Estrada would be the first Hispanic to serve in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. I am sick and tired of the Democrats playing partisan politics with the judicial branch of our government. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.
Dirk M. Maurins
Inmates should look inward to rehabilitatePeggy Allen's letter to the editor about the unfairness of women's prison, ("Inmates keep going through revolving door," May 16) gave me quite a start. She wrote, "My understanding of the prison concept is that it is supposed to make us responsible for our wrongdoings and rehabilitate people so they won't make the same mistakes and become caught up in the revolving door."
My understanding of prison has always been: You break the law, you go to prison and pay for your crime. If you miraculously come out on the other side a reformed person, great. If you don't, it's because you didn't want to change and spent your time blaming others for your situation.
I've read so many accounts of men and women prisoners who make the personal changes needed to succeed on the outside and lead productive lives once their sentences have been served. The programs supporting those in prison are needed, I agree. But blaming the system for not rehabilitating prisoners is an easy way for lawbreakers to excuse their behavior.
The responsibility to rehabilitate doesn't lie within the system, it lies within oneself. Allen might be more successful in her future life outside prison if she remembers that.
CEO's daughter ideal for Kamehameha jobA May 23 Star-Bulletin article, "Kamehameha Schools gives part-time job to its CEO's daughter," implied that Laurie McCubbin was hired for reasons other than her merits. As the individual who works most closely with Laurie McCubbin, I can state absolutely that her job and academic experience make her ideal for her position.
Moreover, Laurie's affability, her personality and her strong work ethic make it a pleasure to work alongside her. That her father is the chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools is irrelevant; there is clearly no conflict of interest here.
Who wants to watch football on Christmas?Ernie Reese's May 11 letter about the Hawaii Bowl football game is right on the money. Why would any Christian want to spend Christmas day at a sporting event? This is not only a time to be with your family and friends, it's also a holy day. This also goes for Good Friday and Easter.
It's been said many times, and I'll say it again: They've taken Christ out of X-MAS.
Nuclear pact is step toward reducing threatFriday's signing of a two-thirds reduction in the nuclear weapons arsenals of the former Soviet Union and the United States is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done in order to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.
These weapons are not going to be dismantled, but instead are going to be put in storage, where they may still be used by terrorists. Russia now has 20,000 nuclear warheads and enough nuclear material to make 60,000 more. If only one nuclear weapon small enough to fit in a suitcase were smuggled into the United States, it would kill hundreds of thousands of people.
The attack of Sept. 11 would pale in comparison.
In light of Dick Cheney's recent warning that terrorists will certainly strike again, it is imperative that we work harder to reduce the threat of a nuclear strike. One step is House Bill H.R. 3836, which would reduce Russia's debt to the United States in exchange for dismantling some of its facilities, and finding work for its many unemployed nuclear scientists. We can help change the course of a future catastrophe, but we must demand it.
Souki ignored need for handicap stallsI applaud Governor Caye-tano's veto of a bill that included an amendment to lower the fines for those irresponsible individuals who, without being disabled, park in the stalls that provide access to vital services that the disabled must have. This has been hailed as the worst amendment to a good bill in many years. And who orchestrated this piece of kaka? Our own Rep. Joe Souki, a man we have elected to look out for our interests.
Souki slapped every disabled person in our state in the face by attaching the amendment to the bill. There are fewer than 700 handicapped parking stalls in Maui County and there are way over 4,000 citizens who are confined to wheelchairs and thousands more with severe mobility limitations who must use these spaces.
Those of us in the handicapped community have fought many, many years to achieve a measure of critical access. Souki would have set us back all those years with his total lack of concern for those so afflicted as to need a wheelchair.
Souki said he did not want to be too hard on those who got such a citation. What he is saying is, do not be too hard on those who break the law, but make it very hard for the disabled.
I can assure everyone that if Souki had to use a wheelchair or walker or had the other physical problems that make it necessary for many people to have a placard that allows them to park in these stalls, he would not have introduced that terrible amendment. He instead would have been crying the blues if anyone else had done such a bad thing.
So it would seem that one more veto is a must: We must veto Souki at the polls this year and elect someone who does care and does understand the needs of all the citizens. It is more than clear that Souki is not that person. It is more than time for a change.
Robert J. Douglas
Felix whistleblowers must stand firmIt is about time that the state attorney general is finally investigating some providers of special education services for fraud (Star-Bulletin, May 16). Many parents of special education children have voiced their complaints but their voices fell on deaf ears. Their letters went unnoticed. And some schools still contended that the families were getting the services.
What needs to be done now is to continue such inquires and follow through with the agencies that employ these individuals. Charge, fine and/or discontinue their contracts for allowing their employees to do this. This, and this alone, will send out a clear message.
Additionally, parents need to receive their statements from the Department of Health sooner than six months after the service was given. The Department of Education should think very seriously about this also. Currently there is no system of accountability.
Now all parents have to worry about, when they sit down at their next meeting with providers, is this: Is the system going to retaliate against them now that they know the parents are whistleblowers?
To all families, teachers and school personnel: Report the fraud and stick to it no matter how many times you have to repeat yourself!
Raids on strip clubs are warrantedI could not disagree more with the letter from Pablo Wegesend ("Strip-club raids show HPD's poor priorities," Star-Bulletin, May 21).
If anyone honestly thinks that the individuals involved in these clubs are all consenting adults then he or she should think again. It has been shown countless times that many of the "adult" females working in such places are actually juveniles lured in by promises of money "paid nightly."
Wegesand's attack on Honolulu Police Sgt. Gary Sunada was also ill-founded.
Abortion pill column confuses issueBonnie Erbe contradicts herself in her May 21 column, "Pill prevents, rather than aborts, unwanted births." In one sentence she writes, "They should know it is a safe and effective way of preventing, not aborting unwanted pregnancies. Note that she writes "preventing," not "aborting."
But in the very next sentence she goes on to say that, "It delays ovulation, hinders fertilization or prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex."
Since a human being is created at the point of the fertilization of the egg, in other words conception, then one is aborting when she purposely prevents that human from implanting and growing to full life. Therefore, emergency contraception is no different from RU-486 or any other abortion procedure done in a doctor's office.
Ed Case sounds like Hemmings in 1990Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Case is truly a gifted individual who has remarkable vision. Unfortunately, his vision is most accurately characterized as 20/20 hindsight.
The self-proclaimed leader of the "new reformed" Democrats sounds more like an old-fashioned Republican than a true visionary.
While he should be applauded for speaking out for responsible change -- downsizing government, shifting services out of the public sector and into private hands, cutting taxes -- this type of "reformist" thinking comes straight from the same platform used by the Republican Party throughout the 1990s.
If he hasn't already done so, I suggest that Case obtain some of the old campaign literature used by conservative Republican Fred Hemmings in his 1990 campaign for governor. It would save Case considerable time and money.
There is little doubt that Case is correct, just as Hemmings was in 1990, because we are still suffering from the tax-and-spend policies of traditional Democrats.
But then that is merely 20/20 hindsight.
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