Fed spends too much on social programs
When I was doing my tax return, I noticed on page 83 of the 1040 form instructions booklet that there were pie graphs and brief explanations of the federal tax revenues and outlays (the general budgeting of the different parts of the federal government.
It was kind of upsetting to see the primary function of the federal government is law and order, and defense of the country was only around 26 percent of the total outlays. This leaves the outlay for domestic and social programs to be about 74 percent. People might complain about the "pork" or overspending on defense, but I think it should be asked why a large part of the federal budget, the other 74 percent, concerns things that probably shouldn't be the federal government's duty.
Congress quiet on ocean cleanup
Where are our representatives in Washington, D.C.? Having lunch and planning vacations? When are they planning to take action on the cleanup of old military hardware off the Waianae coast? At least say something! With 30 years in public service for some, I would expect a little bit more.
I would expect some barking to show that one day they will do something. They got elected because they promised us that they would take care of us. Not one word from them about this. What a shame.
More GMO oversight would be redundant
I have been in production agriculture in Hawaii and a member of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation since 1975. Since 2000 I have been the voluntary co-chairman of the Farm Bureau's Environmental Stewardship Committee, which informs and educates member farmers, the community, politicians and policy makers on key issues facing agriculture in Hawaii.
I was disappointed in your April 6 editorial opinion calling for scrutiny of genetically modified crops. It was disingenuous to express such an opinion when the level of governmental regulation of GMO crop plants already exceeds any other farming practice in existence. The editorial opinion piece implied that no such controls exist.
Calling for the governor to assemble a team of officials to "evaluate hazards and establish mitigation" is the equivalent of reinventing the wheel when that oversight is already provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The manipulation of plant genes to obtain desirable varieties was first reported by Gregor Mendel in 1865. This technology, as all technologies, has the potential to be used for good or bad. Ultimately, farmers will respond to what their market demands and if those customers do not want a GMO product, then advancement and implementation will not be adopted.
Making false and misleading statements is not the responsible way to address the issue.
John J. McHugh Jr.
Co-chairman, Environmental Stewardship Committee
Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
Editorial took right tone on GMO
Bravo! to the Star-Bulletin for the excellent April 6 editorial
"Genetically modified crops need scrutiny" I greatly appreciate this newspaper's willingness to print an opinion that is unpopular with big business and much of government.
The state is taking incredible risks with our food supply. The contamination happening worldwide is proof. What there is no proof of is safety.
I agree that Gov. Lingle should be insisting on health, environmental and agricultural evaluations. After all, once genetically altered seeds, pollen and food are in the wind, carried by bees and birds and on store shelves -- unlabeled -- a recall is impossible.
Koller has earned another term in DHS
Lillian Koller, the director of the Department of Human Services, deserves a second term
. My work with the Residential Alternatives Community Care Program (also known as the Adult Foster Family Program), in which we care for Hawaii's frail elderly, would not be as successful without Koller's enlightened leadership.
Under Koller, the numbers of our elderly served have grown while the savings to the state have been immense. Placement in an RACCP home costs around $2,400 a month. In a nursing home, the cost to the state is around $6,500 a month. This figures to an annual savings to the state Medicaid program of around $70,000 a year per person served. With an estimated 1,400 individuals in the RACC program, that represents a savings of more than $95,000,000. Koller's "Going Home" project, designed to move people out of expensive institutional settings, has resulted in great savings and better quality of life for the elderly person in need.
I strongly urge the Senate Committee on Human Services and Public Housing to give Koller four more years to continue her important and successful role as director of DHS.
Marjorie (Gigi) Abel
President, ABEL Case Management Inc.
Don't dismantle Electoral College
I hope everyone consults real American history before accepting the false spin of those who seek a simple-majority vote presidential election. For lack of space, here is just one such falsity:
"The Electoral College was created because America didn't have today's sophisticated vote counting systems."
Isn't that falsity self-evident? In the founders day, in order to choose a president, the electors had to arrive in D.C. To arrive, they had to leave their home states. To leave, they had to know who they were, and they couldn't know who they were until after votes were counted. So, if America's founders intended a simple-majority vote, they could have just had the electors carry the votes to D.C. No?
In truth, America's founders feared the "tyranny of the masses" that results from simple-majority rule, because simple-majority rule is logically indistinct from mob rule. Their real goal was an America in which a minority of even one could enforce America's principles against the whims of a simple majority that is frequently made irrational and cruel by the passion of the moment.
That's why the Constitution always starts by breaking the simple majority into smaller groups, and then it limits the role of a simple majority to electing a single spokesperson. Thereafter, the simple majority is allowed no further access to the government's unlimited power. That control was reserved to the resulting Congress and Electoral College, whose members had to negotiate among themselves to act.
The founders understood that truly massive evil can only be done by the simple majority. E.g., wasn't it a simple majority religion that drove Pilgrims from their homes, and the majority Nazis whose Holocaust crucified minority Jews?
Please join me in a thought outside the box, and consider the founder's real intent -- 536 trusted people locked in a room to recruit a president they could agree on. First it would give America access to people who have too much integrity, intelligence, dignity and care for loved ones to participate in today's sound-bite driven mud fight direct campaigns. Next it would end today's 50 percent-50 percent coin flip elections engineered by consultants and computers that can literally parse the simple majority by street address -- 50 percent-50 percent results that are inherently ungovernable, because they define polarization.
George L. Berish
No good excuse for not recycling
To all those lazy, impatient and inconsiderate people who don't bother to recycle, consider this: When our landfills eventually run out of space, your yards and streets will be the first place we all dump our trash. How's that for living in paradise? The people of Hawaii need to start taking recycling seriously because it's NOT a joke.
We all say we care, but since when do our words speak louder than our actions? Hawaii's bottle law poses many opportunities for people to earn back their five-cent deposits, however not everyone participates. In Hawaii, we use 800 million beverage containers a year; still in 2004 only 20 percent of those beverage containers were recycled. Why not 40 percent? Are we all really that lazy?
So what can be done? For starters, the citizens of Hawaii could try working together. Local supermarkets and outlets that distribute recyclable beverage containers could also make an effort to collect them. Local residences could help promote recycling in neighborhood parks by providing containers to collect cans and bottles next to the rubbish cans. But before we do anything, we need to first stop feeding ourselves the excuse that someone else is recycling for us.