Letters to the editor


POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Small business stands to lose with tax raise

Your recent editorial about proposals to apply new sales collection rules to small Internet retailers, titled “;Taxing Internet purchases only fair”; (Star-Bulletin, May 12) misses the point—these measures would force small retail businesses across the state of Hawaii, and the country, to comply with complex tax laws and tax collectors in every state. Many small Internet retailers would close their doors, killing jobs and cheating consumers out of the benefits of small business competition with mega-retail chains.

Of course, in tough economic times, some politicians, including in Hawaii, have jumped on the taxation bandwagon. However, these Internet sales tax supporters fail to mention that the small retail businesses that use the Internet to reach customers around the country (and overseas, I might add) include many local small business people. Hundreds of small Internet retailers are doing business right in Hawaii.

Do not lose sight of the changing face of retail business over recent decades. Mega-retail giants successfully pushed many small businesses off Main Street USA. We have all seen the shuttered small retail stores. Thankfully, many small retailers, individual entrepreneurs and family businesses, found that the Internet made survival possible. The Internet is a small business success story, creating new opportunities and being a key part of any small retailer strategy in 2009.

Allowing out-of-state tax administrators to treat small retailers with dozens of employees the same as a mega-retailer with hundreds of accountants and tax professionals is a recipe for disaster. Complying with the sales tax regimes of every state will immediately impose significant new costs, and be assured that once other states start forcing tax collection on small Internet businesses based in Hawaii, foreign government tax collectors will be lining up as well. In short, treating the smallest retailers like giant corporations is a certain “;anti-stimulus plan”; that will kill local jobs.

I think most of your readers would agree that it does not make sense to increase taxes on small businesses in such a tough economy. Instead of measures that are sure to stunt growth, we should be thinking of ways to help small businesses grow and empower consumers.

Tod Cohen

Vice president and deputy general counsel for government relations, eBay

Abuse photos endanger troops

Regarding those photos documenting the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan: When the time is right, fine, release the photos. But when my son is soon to be in harm's way, forget about it.

I never thought I would say this, but my son has enlisted into the Marines out of high school. I wrote this newspaper objecting to recruiters in high school due to the No Child Left Behind Act, and now my son is enlisting into the Marines and not because he was enticed in high school.

Believe me, I am beside myself.

The point is, releasing the photos right now is not the time. This will only recruit the enemy to retaliate against my son. I voted for President Obama, was against George W. Bush's war in Iraq—and I have been blindsided by my own offspring.

When things settle down, we can investigate, but not when the photos are giving the opposition the bullets.

I am willing to wait. Can't you?

Peggy McArdle


All those high-rises sure are ugly, too

How can the American Institute of Architects-Honolulu say the rail will have drastic visual impact? Are they kidding? Who designed all those high-rises that obstruct views of Diamond Head, the ocean and everything else that we used to have clear views of? Sounds like the anti-rail people have gotten to your organization.

Actually, you can see over and under the rail lines. Not like the massive high-rises all over Waikiki and Honolulu.

Adrienne Wilson-Yamasaki

Lloyd Y. Yamasaki


Stop the bickering, build the rail already

It seemed like in 2008 all we did was bicker about whether or not to build a rail system. Now in 2009, it seems like all we do is bicker about whether the rail system should be elevated or at-grade.

Frankly, I just want the thing built. It will bring major relief from the terrible traffic between the west side and town, and it will create a lot of jobs for local families. Stop arguing, work together and build the rail already!

Debbie Nakamura


Security at Ala Moana seems a bit scary

Congratulations to General Growth Properties for not only engineering Honolulu's biggest bankruptcy but for turning its Ala Moana Center into what is starting to look like its vision of a futuristic fascist state.

Suddenly, the Ala Moana Center is being terrorized by sunglass-wearing, helmeted, totally white-clothed, angry men, riding weird two- and three-wheeled vehicles that look like they belong in a failed “;Star Wars”; remake, not in contemporary Honolulu. They have big, bold black-on-white lettering on their persons and “;vehicles”; that say “;SECURITY.”;

I was not aware that Ala Moana Center was the focus of a recent crime wave or terrorist attack. Like everyone, I watched while HPD increased overt police presence in Chinatown following the shootings there. They used well-accepted “;community policing”; tactics to calm an anxious community. Hats off, on foot, hands extended in friendship, HPD responded, and people felt safe again.

If there is a real threat at Ala Moana Center, let's hear it. If not, I suggest that General Growth Properties reassign the genius who thought this new “;SECURITY”; patrol was a good idea.

Robert J. Conlan


Islam Day shows legislators' priorities

The declaration of a day devoted to Islam is just another example of how our legislators pander to religious interest groups, while ignoring the needs of the rest of society. Saying that the declaration is not religious, but cultural, is disingenuous.

The cultures of nations with majority-Islamic populations are extremely diverse, ranging from Indonesia to the Gulf-Arab States to secular Turkey. It is as if the legislators had declared a “;Catholic culture”; day, jumbling together countries as different as Italy, Ireland and Mexico.

I support a secular society, with separation of church and state, and do not want my tax dollars used to subsidize or promote anyone's religion.

If the legislators really want to promote respect for cultural diversity, they could declare a “;Tolerance Day,”; or a “;Secular Society Day.”; Better yet, they should meet the needs of all of our citizens for good schools, safe streets and decent living standards.

Mike DeWeert


Raze the Natatorium and restore the beach

I'm all for honoring Hawaii's veterans, but it seems to me that spending several million dollars on a memorial when the state has a huge budget deficit is extreme folly.

I believe the Waikiki Natatorium should be torn down and a small, inexpensive sign and plaque be built on the site. The new beach that could be created there should be called “;Veterans Beach.”; What better way to honor our heroes than to name a beach after them.

Veterans Beach would replace that gaudy, man-made structure with nature's memorial and would open up more ocean for people to enjoy.

Ray Graham





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