Kids know when they're being lied to
Well, Rich Figel ("Addicted to Life," May 13
) has some common sense, doesn't he? Many people and organizations have been saying the same thing about the drug war for quite some time now, and we continue to lock up our citizens at a rate of about 600,000 to 700,000 a year for pot. No, not all go to jail, but it's rotten thing to go through when we all know that pot is less harmful than Tylenol.
I've written my representatives in Nevada, and what do you think I get back? The same old "It's a dangerous drug" and "It's a gateway drug" and "What about our children?" You can keep lying to kids, but they will figure it out eventually. They know it's dangerous to drink and drive, they see their friends getting hurt or killed. They know not to smoke cigarettes, they see their parents coughing and dying. But you can't tell them that pot is dangerous because they know better ... and so should our federal government.
I didn't believe the government back in 1965 and I still don't today. The only question I have is, why?
Drug testing shows irony of the 'problem'
Rich Figel's column
did a great job of synopsizing the situation with regard to our nation's drug war. The one thing he didn't do, though, was to define the nature of the "drug problem" itself. The nature of the problem is this: These drug users are so crafty, stealthy and having such a minimal impact on society that we can't even tell who the vast majority of them are. But if we have to resort to testing their waste fluid (on pain of unemployment) just to determine who they are, then exactly how much of a "problem" can they possibly be?
Brian C. Bennett
North Garden, Va.
Editor's note: Brian C. Bennett does statistical analysis and research for the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Racial atmosphere in Hawaii is pretty good
Regarding the Star-Bulletin's "Big Q"
on page A2, "How would you rate the racial atmosphere on Oahu?":
At the next table, a 65-year-old Filipino gentleman converses lively in Ilocano to his female companion.
Two tables down, a haole in a white shirt reads some documents and pours investment enthusiasm into his cell phone.
A Vietnamese yardman chases leaves in the parking lot with great vigor, dancing around, coaxing a stray leaf into a waiting pile with his leaf-blower.
One Hispanic and one Afro-American barista behind the counter. One knows exactly what I want -- "a grande mug of coffee for here." The other tallies my bill on the register.
My Fil-Am pal not here today. Probably roofing his house. I miss his amazing storehouse of practical knowledge and wisdom.
Racial atmosphere? I love it. As much as I love overhearing bees in the kiawe bush (and kiawe are part of the racial mix). As much as I love the plumeria blossom that falls on my windshield.
Even police blow past people in crosswalks
As a regular walker, I'm in full agreement with Tom Amina's letter yesterday
about walking here, there or anywhere on any given day and patiently waiting at intersections for permission to cross. I must admit considering my past hurried transgressions. Any walk now takes about 30 minutes longer than it used to, whilst abiding the law. Yet at the same time I cannot believe what I observe at the curb, with adequate time to almost read the newspaper from back to front.
It's an education in total disobedience with cars, trucks and buses hurtling through amber and red lights, and even a police car turning on red, without siren or blue lights flashing, as is the usual, when I'm halfway across Beretania Avenue and Piikoi Street, a significant accident area. Perhaps he was late for a date.
Maybe it would help for us pedestrians to take a note pad, and call in the license plate numbers. We sure have the time to do it, taking a walk more at leisure. So what's their rush?
John L .Werrill
Give refunds to those who overpaid taxes
Regarding the requirement by law to refund overtaxed citizens: As the law states, such largess is a refund. "Refund" means "return to those who overpaid taxes," NOT to build low-income units, give to lower-income taxpayers, or pay for school and state repairs. It should be refunded to the taxpayers who overpaid.
Despite the good intentions or whatever, our elected representatives always complicate things due to lack of plain common sense. Though refunds will be difficult to compute and the amounts will not enrich anyone, to equalize everything, they should reduce the tax rates across the board to alleviate the problems created when legislation was enacted without a formula to refund the over-collected tax. They should not add more problems that have no connection to the intent, which is the refund of taxes.
Symphony seating rule is self-defeating
The current management of the Honolulu Symphony is alienating the public by not allowing people to purchase individual tickets in the balcony, even though it is usually more than half empty. Only season ticket holders have been able to buy seats there. In years gone by, the general public has been able to buy tickets in any section. The end result has been people who prefer to sit upstairs never attend a concert, which means lost revenue.
Why would the symphony management try to dictate where people should sit? Why has the board of directors allowed this absurd policy to continue?
Even the finest symphony needs an audience to exist. If the current symphony management continues on this track, our fine musicians might end up without an audience.
Troops will come back after we send more
"Commander in Iraq asks for more troops" (Associated Press news item, May 11).
Since President Bush's troop surge of four months ago has proven to be so successful, our generals over there are now agreed that it's time to do some more surging.
Let's all get behind our victorious president and demand that more National Guard, more reserves, more recruits be sent to Iraq.
There's light at the end of the tunnel. All we need are more troops in the tunnel.
John A. Broussard
Public office should be unpaid, year-round
House Speaker Calvin Say's statement suggesting that "legislators need a pay raise because some of them don't have other jobs" shows how detached most of our public servants are from the average working taxpayer. Public office is not intended to be a permanent, full-time job.
Perhaps the time has come to make serving in the Legislature truly a "public service" and change from an annual session to one that convenes for four days each month, for which elected representatives receive NO pay whatsoever.
There are several advantages to this:
» They will be enacting laws that will directly affect themselves as they try to make a living in the private sector; it will provide a greater understanding of how their actions translate to ordinary people.
» There will be no last-minute rush to pass bad legislation, as now happens at the end of a session; there is always next month.
» Only dedicated individuals will seek public office as all of the "profit" has been removed from the system; a new transparency will surround their activities.
» The public will have greater access to their elected representatives because there is no date-defined session or legislative period.
Something to think about when the next Constitutional Convention comes around.
Even Romans knew sewers came first
It is so ironic that the demands of the Environmental Protection Agency that the Sand Island and Honouliuli sewage treatment facilities upgrade their treatment has met with so much denial from Mayor Mufi Hannemann and some of the public.
The most basic of services from any government is to properly dispose of sewage. That has been true from the days of the Roman Empire, and when not done properly has caused epidemics and deaths. Proper treatment and disposal of sewage is something people expect to pay for to protect not only the environment but the health of all of us.
For the city administration to fight needed improvements to this basic service because they will cost $1 billion, saying it will bankrupt the city, and at the same time insist on spending $3.7 billion on a fixed-rail system that its own supporters say will not relieve traffic congestion, is a travesty of reason. At least with sewer improvements we know what hole our money is going into; with the proposed rail system, four times the amount will go into a hole we will never see the bottom of.
Garry P. Smith
Free market will lower price of gas
As gas prices rise and fall, it is timely to reflect on our legislators' punitive attempts to regulate the local oil industry. When legislators passed the gas cap, prices rose and caused major damage to dealers and consumers. When they passed the ethanol mandate, the promised tax exemption was for such a short time period that the state will collect more than $30 million before the renewed exemption on July 1. The transparency legislation wasn't funded.
This session they fixed some of the problems they caused, created others, renewed the general excise tax on ethanol fuels and funded the transparency legislation. Hopefully, transparency will educate government officials so we can avoid mistakes like the gas cap.
Hawaii's gas prices, like all other consumer products, are dictated by supply and demand and are currently well below California prices. This anomaly is caused by California regulators who have made it impossible to build new refineries to meet the increasing demand. In the short term, importers are unable to provide a refined product to meet California specifications.
With the renewed G.E. tax exemption effective July 1 on ethanol fuels, Hawaii gas prices will drop 11 to 13 cents. Legislators might have finally learned the key to reasonable gas prices: keep taxes low, avoid over-regulation and let the free market dictate price.
Former owner and current consultant to Kahala Shell
Don't give sanctuary to illegal immigrants
The illegal and illogical concept of "sanctuary cities" must stop. These cities, their mayors, councils and police leadership are putting our citizens in danger. Three men intent on killing soldiers at Fort Dix were known illegal immigrants, yet the city where they resided chose to thumb their nose at federal authorities and let these men continue to plan an attack in which hundreds of soldiers might have been killed.
No part is greater than the whole. If America has any hope of protecting itself from these criminals, ALL America must work together.
These cities that consider themselves as protecting human rights, or whatever their excuse, are unpatriotic and care little about the future of this country and the safety of their citizens. I call upon all citizens in these cities to voice your displeasure with your vote and if necessary with your feet; move to a city that obeys federal laws and cares about your safety.