Sunday, February 9, 2003
Sick passengers brought virus ashoreI wonder if the people who decided to end the Sun Princess Cruise (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 4) thought of how many other people would be exposed to the Norfolk-like virus as a result? The cruise had 2,000 passengers, many of whom could be in the contagious stage of the virus. They stayed in our hotels, exposing many other people, then flew back to the mainland "at Princess Cruise's expense." Really? Not only did these passengers expose many people in our islands to the virus, but when they boarded their planes they also exposed all the flights' passengers and crew members, then went on to expose many, many others on the mainland.
Of course, this was not the passengers' fault. They had no choice in the matter.
Princess Cruises thought it would be better to end the cruise so it could sanitize the ship and get it ready for another trip. Yes, it is better for the company, but not for all of the people who were exposed.
Wouldn't it have been better to confine the passengers to the ship and sail back to Los Angeles?
Societal changes make teaching tougherAs a retired public school teacher and a volunteer at three public schools -- Salt Lake Elementary, Pearl City Highlands Elementary and Lehua Elementary -- I take exception to Governor Lingle's comment about our schools as a "broken system."
The dedication, aloha, skill and professionalism I observe weekly fills me with hope and faith in our educational system.
Fifty years ago when I first taught, TV programs were few, video games had not been invented, reading books was valued and most families sat down to share a meal and the happenings of their day.
Today most parents both work, are stalled in long traffic lines for hours and arrive home feeling rushed and tired.
Our problems are basically the changes in society, and not because our educational system is broken.
Humans should not be sacrificed in spaceWe have the technology to send sophisticated, unmanned spacecraft to probe the universe. Experiments requiring humans can be done on Earth. What cannot, should not be attempted in space. Remove the major environmental hazards on Earth and manned space flights become unnecessary.
Unmanned space probes are so much cheaper; human life is priceless.
Howard T. Saiki
Substitute teacher of science
Tax credit won't help with long-term careIn her State of the State address, Governor Lingle proposed a 30 percent tax credit, to be phased in over a three-year period, for those residents who purchase private long-term care insurance.
Here are the reasons this won't work for most of our residents:
>> Most purchasers of long-term care insurance are retirees on pensions. Pensions are not taxed by our state. Therefore, most residents in this group would not qualify for a tax credit.The best solution for most residents would be the passage of SB1088 or HB1298. These bills present the Hawaii Long-Term Care Financing Program, which provides a starting benefit of $70 a day at a starting required premium of $10 a month. This program will bring about much-needed financial relief for those needing long-term care assistance, and will reduce costs to our over-burdened Medicaid program.
>> Private long-term care insurance is expensive. Many residents in the low-middle and middle income brackets cannot afford to purchase this insurance. No insurance, no tax credit.
>> A tax credit is simply not an incentive for younger people to purchase long-term care insurance. Their thoughts are geared toward raising a family.
>> Many people with health conditions are not accepted by private insurers.
>> Reducing state tax receipts for the 6 percent who can afford to buy long-term care insurance increases the burden on the rest of the taxpayers.
Long-Term Care Financing Program
Don't 'governmentize' health-care systemThe state Legislature is now considering legislation to provide for universal health care. While the motives and intentions behind introduction of such legislation are good, the effect would be bad.
The sort of government-run universal health care contemplated would make the government responsible for all health care. It is one thing to want health care for everyone, but to have government take control of health care would result in delays and a diminishment in the quality of care provided.
Canada enacted such a system into law. A recent study estimated that 212,990 Canadians were on hospital waiting lists in 1998. The situation has not improved. Average waiting time for a surgery was more than 13 weeks. And there is no question that superior care is available in the United States in part because we as a nation refused to go down the socialist road.
Increasing competition, providing more options and providing a safety net for those who are uninsured can be achieved without "governmentizing" an entire industry.
Socialist solutions have always been good-hearted but wrongheaded. Let's think with both our heads and hearts. Private sector health care can be mended and should not be ended.
Rep. David A. Pendleton
Legalizing marijuana would reduce 'ice' useIce is killing our beautiful society. Hawaii's crystal-meth epidemic requires drastic action. I propose that marijuana be legalized because ice, given its relatively easy production, is more accessible than pakalolo.
With this greater accessibility comes the more prevalent use. If marijuana -- a far more benign high -- were legalized, its accessibility would draw people away from the more dangerous crystal meth.
This proposal comes from a responsible member of society who looks forward to a legislative debate on legalization of marijuana.
Stuart N. Taba
U.S. congressman's remarks on internment are frighteningRegarding the story "U.S. House panel chief defends war internment" (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 6): I am a 71-year-old nisei. I was the same age as U.S. Rep. Howard Coble on Dec. 7, 1941 when Japan bombed our country -- Rep. Coble's and mine.
My parents were issei who suffered throughout the war because they had taught all 10 of us children to be loyal, patriotic Americans. They suffered the suspicions of the country they had come to love -- the country their three sons volunteered to defend in Italy and France in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and in occupied Japan. Two of my brothers are buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific. The other is 83 years old and lives with the memories of war.
Coble said President Roosevelt issued the Japanese internment order "for their own protection." The guns that he said were to "protect" us in camps were pointed toward us! We were put in those camps because people like him believed that some among us were saboteurs. They were wrong then and those who believe that today have not studied American history.
To think that there might have been saboteurs among us is understandable. But, in a country that declares itself a constitutional democracy, to herd a whole group of people behind barbed wires without "due process" because of their ancestral ties to the enemy is wrong.
Thank God for people like former President Ronald Reagan, who in 1988 signed legislation to "right a grave wrong" and, on our nation's behalf, apologized to the internees. I understand Coble voted against that legislation.
Coble said Arab Americans shouldn't be interned today because "we're a far more tolerant nation today than we were." He should explain himself. Is he saying that Arab Americans need not be herded into camps today because they are not in danger like the Japanese were? Or is he saying Arab Americans need not be incarcerated because most Arab Americans are good citizens? But is it OK to detain some Arab Americans without due process, as is reported almost daily?
His remarks make me wonder whether we are "far more tolerant" today. They also scare me to think that he is the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Yoshie Ishiguro Tanabe
How can U.S. afford Bush's policies?The Bush administration's plan to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes while funding the post-war reconstruction programs in Afghanistan and a war with Iraq defies logic.
For starters, we continue to pay an annual $40 million to poppy growers in Afghanistan, plus a proposed $350 million a year to train, equip and operate an Afghanistan army. Add to that an anticipated $160 billion a year for long-term occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, plus funds needed for mandated U.S. domestic programs. These problems demand more than campaign rhetoric.
John K. Kingsley
Bush leads nation down road to disasterIt is not only a terrible shame, but also a terrible tragedy that has befallen our great nation. Personal vendettas, visceral rhetoric and unsupported and uncorroborated accusations exude from President Bush. In a U.S. court, none of the so-called evidence presented to the U.N. Security Council by Colin Powell could even pass the test of "within a reasonable doubt" much less "without the shadow of a doubt."
Why is it that any American is afforded this gold standard, but everyone else is not? Bush is not serving the people; he only serves his own greed, father and rich oil cronies from Texas.
Bush must be stopped before he spirals the United States into a conflagration with the Middle East, al-Qaida and North Korea.
Victory is better than stalemate in IraqThe decision to attack Iraq was made long ago. No president is likely to deploy 300,000 troops halfway around the globe without intending to use them. Only an abject surrender by Saddam can avert war.
And rightly so. Were Saddam to obtain nuclear weapons (and if we leave him alone long enough, he will), we would be in the same situation or perhaps worse than we are with North Korea. Saddam will threaten Israel, Kuwait and whoever else strikes his fancy and we will be unable to respond without blowing up the whole Middle East. In the meantime, he can funnel all sorts of nasty chemical and/or biological agents to al-Qaida or other terrorists.
Perhaps most readers are too young to remember the Korean War. After more than two years of bitter fighting the Chinese and North Koreans found themselves in a militarily untenable position -- unable to logistically support themselves so far south, and in danger of having their lines broken and soldiers captured. Ignoring the advice that "there is no substitute for victory," President Truman agreed to a truce, thereby ending American offensive action. Fifty years later a nuclear-armed madman leadsNorth Korea and we can do very little except depend on the good graces of the Chinese and Russians, hardly our friends.
War decides many questions and gives authority to the victor if he chooses to enforce his will. The decision to take out Saddam has already been made because we have a president whose priority is to defend the United States, not humor disarmed allies.
Bill to restrict cruise ships deserves hearingI encourage Hawaii residents to support House Bill 201, which will regulate pollution discharges from cruise ships, set limits of what and where discharges can occur, create an inspection program to verify compliance, and set penalties for violations.
To support the bill, write or call Maui's Rep. Joe Souki, who as chairman of the Transportation Committee has expressed his intent to kill the bill again this year by not allowing it to be heard by his committee. This bill is too important for Souki to bury it single-handedly.
Cruise ship industry has bad reputationI am disheartened that Rep. Joe Souki does not want HB 201 heard in the House Transportation Committee. Two other committees -- Energy and Environmental Protection and Economic Development and Business Concerns -- passed the bill last week.
Souki must know the cruise industry has a colored past of dumping raw sewage, toxic and hazardous chemicals and falsifying records in Alaska, Florida and the Caribbean. The U.S. Justice Department has fined the cruise ship companies millions of dollars during the last 10 years.
Every other industry has laws to govern water waste and discharges in the United States. The cruise ship industry needs to be accountable for what it discharges in our waters.
If the cruise ships are doing everything correctly, what is there to be afraid of? Let the democratic process continue.
Handyman improved life in our communityWe buried Aulola Tonga last week. He died in an accident while trimming a tree. In the grand scheme of things, he was not an important and well-known figure. He worked for me and for hundreds of other people on Oahu. He helped to pave my driveway. He worked on remodeling my home. He trimmed my trees for many years.
He helped me with many projects. He made a big difference in the quality of my life and that of my family. I considered him my good friend. He was one of my favorite people. He was always cheerful, dependable, responsible, kind, hard-working and helpful. When we passed on the road, we always pulled over to chat.
He worked for all of my neighbors and many of my friends. He improved my neighborhood and my community. We used to talk about his children and what high hopes he had for them. They have a wonderful example to follow. His family will miss him. We all will. He was one of the good guys in this world and he made a huge difference in the lives of many people. Aloha oe, Tonga, until we meet again.
Poll results have little news valueThe news media increasingly use polls conducted by purportedly professional pollsters. Changes in public opinion on myriad issues accompany the latest news items, albeit nearly 50 percent of people refuse to talk to pollsters.
As findings in a National Public Radio report reveal, pollsters are "lucky if they get 20 households out of 100" to answer their questions. The NPR report attributes such failure to not answering the phone; screening caller-ID devices; and the Telezapper, which recognizes and hangs up on telemarketing calls.
Organizations that use a written questionnaire at face-to-face interviews, such as the nonprofit Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, make for more meaningful opinion polling. In the interim, another of the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headlines is a certainty.
John K. Kingsley
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