Big films, little benefit
TO STATE that Hawaii's film industry is booming because two major motion pictures are shooting here is rather misleading (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 6
). The fact is, these two features -- the next "Indiana Jones" movie and "Tropic Thunder" -- have hired hardly any of our highly qualified local technicians. They have instead brought hundreds of workers, the overwhelming majority, from the mainland to do our jobs and take away our wages. The state is not benefiting nearly as much as it could from these films as it's losing all those income tax dollars.
Again a glaring omission in the wording of the tax credit Act 88 ... not specifying local technical hires for the productions in order to secure the credit.
While these films are "big budget" projects, the big budgets aren't being spent here. The budgets are on vacation and the money goes back to the mainland.
Gym shouldn't be lawmakers' perk
I was amazed and disappointed to read in the Star-Bulletin Thursday
of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's attempt to wrestle $8 million from Congress to renovate the U.S. House's gym.
Where in the Constitution does it say the people are obligated to give House members such a perk from our tax dollars? With the amount of congressional pay the members give themselves for supposedly serving the people, this is a waste of our hard-earned money. They can easily join a private gym.
With the Democrats' talk of bringing in a new era of government after the 2006 elections, this is just another example of them being all talk and no action in bringing government spending down and keeping it under control.
Enjoy your workout, Mr. Abercrombie, while the people of Hawaii continue to work and sweat just to make ends meet while we maintain your "refuge" on Capitol Hill.
Eric J. Seabury
Formerly of Hawaii
Let students have cheap second lunches
As a sophomore at Kahuku High School, I was shocked at a recent announcement explaining a new policy. Starting this year after you get one lunch for $1.25; additional lunches will cost $4.
So, if you get two lunches, as a lot of my classmates do, you will have spent more than $5 on lunch. That's like $25 a week for school lunch.
Right before they talked about this they said they were going to talk about "buying your friends lunches" as if this was the solution to that "problem." But seriously, I don't see what's wrong in buying your friend a lunch if they forgot their card or something.
If this is some kind of new way to curb child obesity, they should have an alternative. Maybe we could get a bigger salad bar so it can satisfy hunger but in a healthier way. I'm not saying this should all be totally free, but seriously, people get hungry, and a second lunch for quadruple the price of the first one is mad.
10th grade, Kahuku High School
Oahu drivers need both rail and buses
Recent debate on transportation seems focused on rail vs. bus. Some pundits are now questioning the city's plan for a light-rail system in favor of more express buses. This is a replay of the Bus Rapid Transit proposed eight years ago. It wasn't acceptable then, and it isn't going to be accepted now.
The biggest drawback with buses is that they operate in the same lanes as the rest of the vehicles on the road and are subject to the same accidents, traffic jams and delays from bad weather. The only way around it is to take away lanes from general traffic.
BRT proposed to take two lanes on several city streets for exclusive use by these express buses, which would cause more traffic and a bigger headache for everyone else. Having an elevated BRT would be no different once the buses come down from the ramps. A light-rail system operating in its own elevated right of way will have greater capacity and more reliability than a bus-only system.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann is on the right track in seeking a multimodal approach, with light rail as the main component and buses as the connector service to reach residential communities and other destinations.
Eavesdroppers might get painful reaction
Who would have thought a month ago that Democrats would help pass an unconstitutional warrantless wiretap law? Seems like only yesterday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was being grilled before Congress as he appeared to perjure himself, concerning his attempt in 2004 to acquire the signature of then-hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft, to authorize illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens.
This bill allows the president to listen in on phone calls between a U.S. citizen and a foreigner without getting a warrant. Imagine how romantic it will be with your spouse calling you from Europe while Gonzales listens in and oversees this law.
Before this bill, eavesdropping was permitted and a warrant was required after 72 hours. But this new law allows the president to continue warrantless wiretaps on you, me and his political enemies. How many of your calls does President Bush have to hear before he has enough information on you that he could use to get you to do him a favor? Eavesdropper, imagine an air horn blast! Can you hear me now?
Make it illegal to falsely claim religion
Concerning Charles Memminger's "Honolulu Lite" column ("China bans reincarnation, monks stuck," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 9
), I would add that the U.S. Congress could pass a resolution or law that no president could pretend to be a Christian and then illegally attack another country, therefore causing so much human suffering, which act is not Christian.
Blame Carter for intelligence failures
The letter from Toshio Chinen (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 8
) asks a legitimate question: Why don't we use our assets to find Osama bin Laden? The answer takes you back to the Carter administration. Jimmy Carter, in his zeal to appease his left-wing base, enacted statutory restrictions on the CIA, nearly decapitating the agency's ability to use what Carter called "low life" assets in the gathering of intelligence. Not only could the agency not deal with such assets, those sources were completely cut off.
As anyone who has been associated with the intelligence community knows, the bulk of human intelligence comes from such sources. Without these informers, penetration of organizations such as al-Qaida becomes next to impossible. Local human intelligence sources are necessary to these types of operations.
Thank Carter and the Democrats for putting blinders on our foreign intelligence-gathering apparatus. If you're paying attention, they're attempting the same kind of action again.
Maui's second hospital a need, not just a want
Congratulations to Oahu. I saw a really nice TV news story about the Shriners opening another new hospital on Oahu. That is wonderful! What does that make now, 15? I wonder how hard it was for them to get a Certificate of Need. Malulani Health and Medical Center applied for a CON and the powers on Oahu decided Maui didn't need a second hospital.
I can see how Oahu desperately needs 15 hospitals; after all, someone might have to cross a street to get medical care.
Maui has more than 137,000 residents. On any given day we have an equal number or more visitors. So we have one hospital, for 300,000 people spread over 739 square miles. But we do not need another hospital. Does anyone out there know if we could get some representation in the Legislature? Maybe hire the people who represent Oahu to help us along because ours are out to lunch.
Paul W. Shields
SELF-INTEREST AND SACRIFICE
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STAR-BULLETIN
Tears welled up in 10-year-old Ivana-Ajee Dolic's eyes as she embraced her father, Sgt. Stephen Dolic, at a welcome home ceremony July 3 at Wheeler Army Air Base. About 200 soldiers of the 45th Sustainment Brigade came home after a year in Iraq. CLICK FOR LARGE
Sacrificing for your own gain isn't heroism
"Hero" is defined as someone who does something for the greater good for mankind, someone who puts their well-being and safety aside to save someone else.
Bike messengers and lobstermen, although their jobs are dangerous, are not putting their lives on the line to ensure someone else may live. Our soldiers, firefighters, policemen and sheriffs put themselves in harm's way every day to ensure that our safety, our freedoms and our sometimes foolish actions do not result in our death or incarceration.
It's too bad that some people who choose not to serve their country or their community by offering the greatest sacrifice choose to demean those who do.
It is heroic to work, be honest and have good morals
We have been overusing the word "heroes" in public media. I hope we stop pumping this false ego in our society. Everyone who works hard, is honest, helps others and holds high morale standards is a hero. A hero is one who sacrifices oneself beyond the call of duty.
With all due respect, our servicemen -- although some of them do do beyond the call of duty -- are paid accordingly, just like the rest of us. The difference is that they also get taken care of for life, unlike the rest of us. I also would suggest that we stop using the word "voluntary" service. Voluntary means to do some work that is not paid. With all the pay and perks our military people and their families receive, I do not think they do voluntary work.
I work hard and beyond the call of my duty, paid taxes every year, raised my kid with high moral standards. Can I call myself a hero? And what do I get for that? Pay more taxes and get fewer perks!
Mind you, I come from military family and was married to a military man. So I know what I am talking about.
Universities value money more than integrity
As a public school teacher, it pains me to admit we have oversold and uncritically bought into the notion of a college education for all students. Some students are clearly not college material and may never be.
Case in point: one University of Hawaii-Manoa senior (Letters, Aug. 10) who in four years has not yet been imbued with the critical thinking skills needed to discern the difference between 1. those at grave risk who have volunteered to put everything they have on the line to defend the freedom this student enjoys to spout nonsense, and 2. "lobstermen, bike messengers, truck drivers and farm workers."
Mere lack of student qualification obviously does not prevent college and university officials from admitting those who do not belong there. This is because, as former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett learned to his horror, an increasing number of colleges and universities long ago abandoned anything resembling integrity and have become politically correct propaganda-dispensing, for-profit, tax-exempt diploma mill enterprises interested only in money.
Maybe it is finally time for deans of admissions to quit acting like pimps and, instead, aspire to recapture the integrity and restore the excellence their institutions jettisoned like so much excess baggage during the last 40 years.
Thomas E. Stuart
Kohala Middle School teacher