to the Editor

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Church-state policy should be consistent

Brent White of the American Civil Liberties Union says that "religious services should not be funded by taxpayer dollars" (Star-Bulletin, July 15). Neither should religious symbols, yet the city of Honolulu paid $165,000 to landscape the 26-foot-tall vermilion torii in Moiliili -- built on state-owned land, by the way. The torii symbolizes the Shinto religion; witness the torii fronting the Shinto shrine on King Street, not to mention the thousands of Shinto shrines in Japan.

The city also spent $264,668 of taxpayers' money on the new Chinatown gates, which have plaques of the Eight Daoist Chinese Immortals. Daoism is a living, breathing religion practiced here and throughout China.

I hope that the ACLU will be consistent in its efforts to ensure the principle of the separation of church and state.

Laura M. Fink

And another sizzlin' tradition snuffed out

Another one bites the dust ("Sizzler sale sought," July 15). Actually, my last favorite restaurant. After Coco's and Bella Italia went away, only to be replaced by subpar chains, I'd all but given up on true neighborhood hang-outs where the food is as affordable and as tasty as the memories made while eating it.

When my husband, Eddie, our son James and I last visited Honolulu in January, we stayed at a hotel near the Waikiki Sizzler's, and went there for breakfast every morning. We noted the regulars, mostly retired couples and old guys shooting the breeze over coffee and breakfast, and commented that at least one tradition hadn't yet died as Hawaii tries to recreate Beverly Hills sensibilities.

Oh, well. I guess there's always Wailana Coffee Shop.

Carol Banks Weber
Lynnwood, Wash.

Estate taxes benefit only the very rich

We live in a dichotomous society, especially when it relates to taxes. On the one hand, we hear complaints about the last two tax bills primarily benefiting the rich. On the other hand, we have many of the same people bemoaning the estate tax.

The current law ultimately exempts family estates of up to $6 million. Estate taxes above that might generate $1.46 billion over the next 10 years. That potential loss will have to come from income or other living taxes.

Is it not better to give up the use of this money after one is dead and can no longer enjoy it? What is most puzzling is that this is a tax that hits only the rich. Go figure.

Richard S. Morris

Man-haters take over the animal queendom

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but in her July 14 column about the Y chromosome Maureen Dowd wields her pen like a crazy woman swinging a purse in the men's room. She takes so many gratuitous swipes at men that it might seem pernicious if it weren't just plain silly.

Does it need to be said that the findings in human genetics could not have been causing narcissism, paranoia, "metrosexuality" or whatever it is about us that inspires such loathing in Dowd that she deems it relevant to trot out stories of couplings in the animal kingdom that result in bizarre and violent deaths for the male, or illustrate his role as a miniscule parasite? It's fascinating stuff rendered creepy because she seems to be sharing a personal fantasy. Who knew that behind the coquettish smile and tilt of her head she harbored such a bilious soul?

In the human county of the animal kingdom, being a "powerful babe" doesn't require using her spittle to turn her man's "innards to soup, which she slurps up, drinking until she's sucked him dry." Even if human history, or Dowd's personal history, reflected a treatment of women by men that equated to this, I doubt she would argue that it was ultimately very uplifting to anyone involved.

John Mackey

Overriding ag-bill veto was right thing to do

On behalf of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and its members, I would like to thank and congratulate the Legislature for overriding the governor's veto of SB 255. Despite the support for the veto put forward in letters to the editor, the administration did not oppose the bill during the session. Also, of the 19 legislators who voted not to override, only one had voted "no" at any earlier opportunity.

The Farm Bureau has consistently supported this measure. Those who chose to subdivide and purchase agricultural land in so-called "agricultural subdivisions" should do so with the understanding that there are a set of activities that our Hawaii Revised Statutes specifically states are acceptable on agriculturally zoned land. For our state to allow developers and homeowners' associations to prohibit such activities obviously is bad policy.

Tom Hill
President, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation


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