Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Prison closure costs in long run

The closure of Kulani Prison and cutting funds to drug treatment programs like Hina Mauka are “;illusionary savings.”; Like illusionists who distract our attention while making things disappear and then reappear, the administration creates the illusion that we're saving money, yet these costs will reappear somewhere else. The proposed cuts will actually cost us more, not just in human and societal costs, but in real hard cash.

Without programs like Hina Mauka, inmates will spend more time in prison at a cost about $100 per day. Without Kulani and the programs offered there, recidivism rates will surely increase, and again we will pay tax dollars for each inmate who returns to prison.

When we close a successful state-run prison and continue to export those jobs to the mainland, we instead stimulate the economies of other states instead of our own.

It is possible to make wise budget cuts and keep the public safe. It starts by taking an honest look at the data and what is really working. Drug treatment, the most successful sex offender treatment in the nation, and re-entry programs are wise investments in our community.

Jeanne Y. Ohta
Executive director, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

Insurance companies hijack health reform

In response to the question by Steven G. Norstrom, “;Who does AARP really represent, the government or us seniors?”; (Star-Bulletin, Letters, Aug. 31), the answer is, neither. AARP really represents the large insurance companies.

Medicare, a decent government-run program, is full of loopholes. Look at Medicare Part D, supported by AARP. A provision in it makes it illegal for our government to negotiate prices with the drug companies for bulk buys. Walmart can negotiate lower prices but the U.S. government cannot.

AARP supports the health insurance reform measures because of the 47 million new consumers of insurance companies that keep AARP alive. Medicare currently insures 80 percent of medical bills and lets the for-profit insurance companies grab the rest. AARP can't lose.

Insurance companies and Pharma, with the endorsement of AARP and some corporate-funded politicians, continue to bankrupt our citizens.

We must demand true reform. Medicare for all is the most cost-efficient way to accomplish that goal. Close the loopholes, especially Part D, and make sure doctors are adequately compensated.

If the risk is spread among all of our citizens from the young and healthy to the old and ill, the cost will be a fraction of what this country currently pays for health care.

Elaine Hornal

Savings on rail transit an upside to downturn

Finally, this recession is good for something. With a depressed construction industry, our rail system could be cheaper than the mayor and his engineers first thought.

That's good news and, in this cruddy economy, we need all the good news we can get.

Derrick Nakagawa

Pigs suffer even before official violence begins

Recently, PETA exposed outdated trauma training exercises in which pigs were shot, mutilated and killed at the Schofield Barracks Army base in Hawaii.

Now we have learned from government documents how some of these pigs may suffer and die on barren and crowded cargo ships during their more than 2,000-mile, five-day ocean journey to Hawaii. See PETA's Web site at http://hsblinks.com/oa

Remo Balcells




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