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Friday, March 20, 1998

No economy of words

Taxing nonprofits is a heavenly idea -- not

We have heard quite a few weird ideas lately about resuscitating the (dead) economy in Hawaii, including cutting and raising taxes at the same time, borrowing our way out of debt and promoting tourism.

However, taxing nonprofit organizations like churches sounds like a heaven-sent idea. Or did it originate in the other place?

The only catch is that in order to work it will have to be applied equitably across the board. The amount of revenue that could be generated just from taxing the biggest nonprofit organization, the state government, is phenomenal.

What we need is new faces in government, people who understand business. John Carroll announced his candidacy for Senate the other day, (N. Hilo, Hamakua, N. Kohala). He ought to run for governor.

Titus Bontea
Hilo , Hawaii
(Via the Internet)

Not all tourist dollars benefit Hawaii economy

A $20 bill was stolen from a Japanese tourist on Waikiki Beach by an unemployed hotel worker. The hotel worker walked across the beach and bought three plate lunches from Ono's Hawaiian Foods to feed his family.

Ono's bought poi from the Waihole poi factory and fresh aku from a local fishermen with the $20 bill. Four percent excise tax was paid to the state. The money stayed in Hawaii.

When Japanese tourists visit Hawaii, they buy products from Japan, occupy hotels owned by Japanese nationals and play golf on Japanese golf courses. The money goes to Japan; it doesn't circulate in the Hawaii economy. No wonder the state economy is in the dumps.

Eric Po'ohina
(Via the Internet)

Are scare headlines on economy warranted?

I agree that our economy is not booming, but are things as disastrous as headlines indicate? For example, do nine pages of job classified ads represent a tough economy? I seem to remember a couple of years ago three pages was not unusual.

Why is the story on Bank of Hawaii's plan to reduce employees over two years by 550 people (a truly small percentage for a large company) headlined like they will all lose their jobs tomorrow?

Admittedly many people are facing job loss and change, but there are many positives out there. How many new jobs will be created when Neiman Marcus opens this Christmas? How many new jobs will be created when Ala Moana finishes building its upper-level expansion?

I believe the newpapers have a responsibility to not sensationalize the negative in a time such as this. You owe readers a more balanced view.

Robert Parker
(Via the Internet)

Balanced budget leads to worsening of economy

I cannot understand why a balanced budget is so popular, especially among politicians. In Hawaii, we have a constitutionally mandated balanced budget and it is dreadful. Whenever there is an economic downtown, the state collects less revenue and lays off a lot of workers, which exacerbates the problem.

Payments to welfare recipients are cut to the point where many cannot even afford basic necessities, making the economy even worse. It defeats the whole economic purpose of government, which is to moderate the ups and downs of the economy.

Hawaii's balanced budget also encourages inappropriate government spending. Thus, while people are going homeless, we have a giant new sports arena at the university, and a new convention center that takes up an entire block of Waikiki.

Regina E. Gregory

Pussycat legislators reign in Year of Tiger

This was to be the "Year of the Tiger" for the Legislature. Instead, we have a very timid pussycat.

Just think, we may soon have the dubious distinction of becoming a Third World state and be eligible to apply for an International Monetary Fund bailout loan, like some Pacific Rim countries.

How about that for a solution? Hold onto your hats, we are nearing the edge!

Tony Locascio

Discrimination drives talented workers to mainland

I have heard many different opinions as to the cause of Hawaii's economic problems, but I've heard nothing about one of the major causes: racism directed at Caucasians.

This racism has caused many thousands of capable people to flee these islands. People with skilled trades, business acumen and entrepreneurial abilities have gone to the mainland because of the blatant prejudices found here.

I can understand why native Hawaiians would be somewhat prejudiced, but why so many with no Hawaiian blood? It's beyond my comprehension.

Louis Kessler

It's not fair to cut pay of state employees

Sens. Rosalyn Baker and Carol Fukunaga want state employees to take pay cuts to fund the economic revitalization package. How can taking money from one sector of the population (state employees) to give to another sector revitalize the economy?

State employees, having less money, would cut back on spending. This would nullify any economic benefits resulting from increased spending by non-state employees.

When there is a surplus in the state treasury, everyone reaps the benefits through tax rebates. Now that we are faced with a deficit, why not have everyone in the state put money back into government?

Ellie Lum

Stop catering to retailing instead of aloha experience

Hawaii never will be a mecca to business, or a place where raw materials are processed and exported as finished goods, so we must concede that tourism is the mainstay of our economy.

With that in mind, we must revitalize the visitor industry. Make "aloha" a real experience from airport to Waikiki and beyond. Open the doors by building credible water parks and theme parks. Make our zoo and sea life attractions world class. Promote neighbor island attractions.

Give people reasons to spend more time here once they arrive. If we allow snobby retailers to convince us that people come to Hawaii to shop, we do not give those visitors a reason to return.

Retail is worldwide. There is only one Hawaii.

Robert Chanin


Public knows who is to blame for high gas prices

Frankly, I'm very offended by the assertions of BHP Petroleum and Chevron that competition is to blame for Hawaii's high gasoline prices (Star-Bulletin, March 16). Such claims are shibai! Everyone knows that competition doesn't keep prices up, it only brings them down.

What keeps prices up is when businesses make back-room deals not to lower their prices. These deals cheat consumers out of the benefits of a competitive marketplace. They are also illegal, as they violate anti-trust laws.

Shame on you, Chevron and BHP, for thinking the public is too stupid to know what you're up to!

Reed Alexander
(Via the Internet)


Will provides for schools, not outreach programs

I don't know why everyone is making a big fuss about the outreach programs.

Yes, they may have worked for some people, but if I am correct Princess Pauahi's will says to build a school and to call it the Kamehameha Schools. If I am not mistaken that is what I attend and it is also what is built at the top of Kapalama.

The will does not state the schools' purpose is to provide outreach programs to the community. The trustees maybe felt it was good at the time. Then came new trustees, and they felt it was not serving the purpose of Ke Alii Pauahi.

So stop complaining and go on with life!!

Adrian Kamalii
(Via the Internet)

Pendleton doesn't like high trustee salaries

I read Diane Chang's Feb. 27 column, "Legislators come to 'rescue' of trustees," and agree this tale is scary. However, she may have erroneously lumped Rep. David Pendleton with the wrong group.

Having read one of his published position statements regarding the Bishop Estate and the issue of "excessive compensation" for its trustees has shown me that he is NOT entirely in agreement with the task force amendment, which would authorize a study of trustee compensation.

Rather, he would prefer any one of the three bills introduced this session that would limit the upper six-figure incomes of the "High Five."

Paul D. Yee


HPU baseball players were good sports

On March 4, the Hawaii Pacific University baseball team played the third game of a four-game series against Southern Colorado University. As the game progressed, the Colorado players' tempers mounted. Their head coach was ejected and their pitcher was thrown out of the game for intentionally throwing at HPU batters.

HPU players, coaches and fans were taunted and shouted at with derogatory remarks. Equipment which Colorado borrowed from HPU was recovered damaged and unusable. But Colorado's behavior is not the issue to focus on.

The real story is how HPU maintained its composure. The boys from HPU patiently waited as the umpire dealt with the Colorado coach, and ignored the Colorado players who were swearing and taunting them. HPU won the game 9-3. Colorado was simply outplayed and outclassed.

Danica Scoville
(Via the Internet)

Domestic abusers get light sentences in court

I am a victim of domestic violence. My former "significant other" knocked me unconscious, then beat me, cut me with a knife and strangled me. The attack resulted in a broken jaw, fractured cheekbone and eye socket, nerve damage from the cut, and severe bruising of my face, neck and chest.

My attacker, who left me for dead, was arrested as he prepared to make his escape.

From the crime scene through all of the court proceedings, every person representing the prosecutor's office was empathetic and supportive to me. But it is my impression that domestic violence cases get a "light glove" approach when the cases reach the court system.

The consequences imposed by some judges for attacking family members are apparently less severe than the consequences imposed for attacking a stranger.

The man who attacked me received half of the sentence that was possible, with a minimum mandatory amount of time to be served that made him eligible for furloughs and work release programs two months after he was taken into custody.

The light-glove approach should be replaced by a specific standard policy of minimum mandatory prison sentences for specific violent acts. Guaranteed and clearly defined prison terms for violent offenses might be a deterrent to those who try to control their world with violent behavior.

I am hopeful that the cycle of violence can be altered by appropriate changes to the judicial system.

Barbara Scott

Make gambling legal only for foreigners

Is something missing in the debate over legalized gambling? Proponents correctly point out that gaming will bring crucially needed dollars to Hawaii's stagnant economy. Detractors correctly detail the social problems that will arise when residents begin patronizing casinos.

So why not allow gambling for foreign tourists only? This system is in place in several countries, typically under the following strict rules: Gaming is allowed only in a limited number of casinos, which are either built in isolated resorts or, if situated in a central tourism area such as Waikiki, must be nearly invisible.

No Vegas-style marquees or advertising is allowed; the casinos resemble the hidden speakeasies of the Prohibition era. Interested tourists are discreetly directed to the unobtrusive casino entrances by hotel concierges. A phalanx of doormen enforce the inviolate rule: No foreign passport, no entry. Entry by local residents using forged passports becomes illegal, with major penalties.

Surely such a restricted industry will allow Hawaii to reap major income from foreign tourists, while shielding our community from this vice's downside.

Mark Dougherty

Smoke signals portend danger for Indonesia

The recent turmoil in Indonesia can be traced to two causes. The first is political corruption. Second and more important is the burning of the tropical rain forest and depletion of natural resources.

These fires create huge amounts of dense smoke that can bring whole economies to a halt, sicken a lot of people and displace indigenous tribes. Social unrest usually follows.

History doesn't lie: Both the Mayans of Central America and the Easter Island inhabitants of the Pacific saw their societies collapse because of environmental destruction.

There is no doubt. We live in a fragile ecological world. The more we destroy it, the darker our common future becomes -- like the skies over Indonesia.

William Shannon

Why is Missouri group being so secretive?

In the not too distant past, requests under the Freedom of Information Act for a certain applicant's correspondence submitted by the Missouri Memorial Association was denied by the Navy based on pre-agreed "proprietary interests" and, among others, FOIA Exemption 3, "which permits documents to be exempted from disclosure."

Within the past few months the Navy re-evaluated this decision and requested MMA's permission to release the appropriate information. On Jan. 17, the MMA objected, again.

Come on, guys! What information is so "classified" that you can conveniently hide behind another FOIA exemption -- "Exemption 4," relating to trade secrets?

Donald Barnhart

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