Online readers are able to respond immediately to Star-Bulletin stories through our Web forum, which can be accessed at the end of stories, editorials and columns at starbulletin.com. Below is a selection of forum comments that appeared last week. Most forum contributors use pseudonyms; their "names" have been omitted here.
"State economy not expected to recover until 2010," Star-Bulletin, Sept. 19: When the economy picks up on the mainland, one of the effects will be to drive the demand and price for oil back up again. (It's up to $100 today). This is a no-win situation for Hawaii. It will keep the number of airline flights down and the price up. Hawaii tourism is going to change back towards what it was before the jet age - something designed for the rich and requiring fewer workers. Of course, now there is essentially no agriculture to employ people. Other choices for the economy have been precluded by the fact that Hawaii has not developed a culture of academic achievement. The inevitable result will be a loss of population, especially on Oahu and Maui.
The estimate of a 9 percent tourist decline in 2009 is a daydream ... Hawaii is a beautiful land of daydreams. It will be 20 percent. Unemployment will be 6 percent. A few years ago I was trying to see the governor and explain that slot machines in the waiting areas of the airport would net $85 million a year. Best of all, you can't get in the waiting areas without a plane ticket, so locals couldn't go to the airport just to gamble. But Hawaii was too busy daydreaming about the monarchy. The tourist world will change in 2009 and will not return to the old days, but Hawaii politicians will wait and see. How do you say "disaster" in Hawaiian?
Here's the really ironic part ... The federal government announced it will establish a new agency to bail out banks by buying up, with taxpayer dollars, huge amounts of the bad loans and debts. According to our leaders, this will cost taxpayers hundreds of billions in tax dollars. Here comes the good part ... Earlier this year, the same federal government gave taxpayers billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, which most people spent buying Chinese-made goods. So, first they give tax money to China and now they will collect tax money to give to banks. Do you feel screwed? I do.
"Voting is 'secure,' officials say," Star-Bulletin, Sept. 16: How can we take (Hawaii chief elections officer) Kevin Cronin's word on anything? He has repeatedly messed up and makes excuses instead of acknowledging the mistakes. What happens if he administers an election that has a couple of computer glitches? What kind of excuses then? And we are still waiting for a reasonable explanation as to why he awarded the contract to the high bidder. There's not a single acceptable reason or excuse for that waste of taxpayers' money. We can do better.
"Carts on the run / Stores try to close the gate to keep carts on the reservation," Star-Bulletin, Sept. 15: I've always disliked the sight of carts all over the place. They are a blight on the beauty of Hawaii. I've called the various supermarkets with mixed success on picking them up from street corners. The truth is the stores don't care too much as they factor in the cost and pass the loss on to the consumers; the stores need to be more accountable, too, along with the perps.
Stolen shopping carts are just one of the hidden costs of Hawaii's crazy recycling law. Shopping carts are the vehicle of choice for derelicts. The Legislature has created an underground economy of homeless who dig through trash cans, but usually not along the sides of roads.
Do you know how many apartments and condos have a shopping cart on each floor? That is where the majority of the missing carts are! Put a bounty on each cart returned and I am sure many missing carts will show up!