Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

State tack on flu seems lacking

I'm getting very worried that Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, is in over her head and doesn't know what she's doing. She's been saying that thermal scanners at airports are worthless and inaccurate.

If that's the case, how is it that South Korea invested in the technology and is actually catching cases from Hawaii? Seems to me that this technology must be effective.

Someone in state government should take the time and make an effort to talk to the health officials in South Korea and other Asian countries to learn what we need to do to better contain this virus. At this point, it seems Dr. Park and her cronies have just thrown in the towel and are just crossing their fingers that things don't get worse. Where's the leadership?

Kaleo Johnson





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Internet commerce should not be taxed

The Internet economy moves at lightning speed, as Hawaii has now discovered after Amazon.com announced June 30 that it was cutting all ties to marketing affiliates based here. The reason: The state is on the brink of demanding the company collect sales taxes on the online purchases of all Hawaii residents. As the company has said by voting with its feet: No sale.

Your editorial (”;Internet tax would bring in dollars,”; Star-Bulletin, June 25) is short-sighted. Forcing an out-of-state company to collect Hawaii's sales taxes is a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which is why the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision Quill v. North Dakota made clear Congress must first permit the practice. Yet a doomed attempt to grab at this revenue anyway has led the nation's largest online retailer to abandon Hawaii — robbing the state of any income taxes affiliates would owe the state from their Amazon marketing commissions.

That's a high price to pay for what will amount to a largely symbolic and desperate move.

James G. Lakely

Research fellow/legislative specialist, The Heartland Institute, Chicago

Let local farmlands produce local crops

As Farm Bureau president Dean Okimoto chose to quote me out of context in his recent letter to the Star-Bulletin (”;Seed companies help agriculture,”; Star-Bulletin, May 7) I would like to respond. Mr. Okimoto claims Monsanto and the other producers of genetically modified seeds are producing “;locally grown, sustainable crops to feed our population.”; Mr. Okimoto is the local voice of national Farm Bureau policy, which seeks to promote the GMO (genetically modified organism) industry.

Virtually all of the GMO seeds that have been developed are designed for only two purposes: Herbicide resistance, to allow a farmer to apply large quantities of herbicide (also sold by Monsanto) to the fields without killing the crop, and pesticide production, to force the crop to create its own pesticide. GMO crops that “;increase yields,”; are “;drought tolerant,”; or are “;more nutritious”; do not exist. They are industry hype. Existing GMO crops increase use of toxic herbicides and do nothing for the consumer, and are not intended to — they are designed to sell herbicide and increase industry profits. There is nothing “;sustainable”; about growing such seeds to ship to the mainland on many hundreds of acres that could be used to put food on our tables.

Paul H. Achitoff

Earthjustice Hawaii

Cell-phone ban addresses safety

Your editorial “;Cell phone ban could go further”; (Star-Bulletin, June 29) suggests that the pending ban on cell phone use while driving is only a half-step in the right direction, and that more stringent prohibition is needed. Maybe so, but this law is just the crucial first step. It prohibits holding and using a cell phone while driving, specifically targeting the most dangerous aspect of cell phone use — taking your eyes off the road.

I don't doubt studies that find that simply talking on a cell phone while driving, whether handheld or hands-free, is dangerous. But that is not what this law is intended to address. Common sense and research indicate that taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds (to dial a number or see who is calling) is even more dangerous — both to the driver and innocent others.

With time, we can consider broader restrictions as needed. For now, however, the law addresses what's needed to immediately increase safety on our roadways — that's discouraging cell-phone usage that takes a driver's eyes off the road.

Councilmember Gary Okino

Transportation committee chairman