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Cruise ships not violating U.S. laws

Obviously the tourists bring money to our islands and in order to get that money we are going to have to upgrade our harbor facilities to handle the increased traffic and size of the cruise ships ("Hawaii should tax each cruise ship visitor," Letters, Jan. 17). To answer some of the questions posed by the letter writer:

>> The ships in question have to be registered in a foreign country because they weren't built in a U.S. shipyard and cannot register as U.S.-flagged vessels unless given waivers by Congress. I believe the last cruise ship built in the United States was in the early 1950s.

>> They don't "escape" paying American minimum wages. They don't have to because they are not American vessels.

>> They are not in violation of other U.S. labor laws for the same reason.

>> They are not liable for U.S. corporate taxes because they are not U.S. corporations.

>> They are responsible for obeying our environmental laws as long as they are within U.S. coastal waters.

If we wish to control or regulate this industry, we need to either modify or do away with the passenger provisions of the Jones Act.

John Wert

Finder of wallet saved owner a lot of hassle

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Roy Ishioka of Polynesian Adventure Tours. After finding my wallet, Roy went out of his way to safeguard my belongings and to call me the next day.

After the reality of losing my wallet had set in, I had prepared to cancel all credit cards, apply for duplicate security cards and IDs and cancel all my bank checks. I was feeling pretty downtrodden until Roy called. He was such a nice person that he didn't even consider accepting a generous cash reward.

I wish his business all the best in 2003. It's indeed reassuring to know that the aloha spirit is alive and well.

Larry Kiyohiro

Therapy cap hurts Medicare patients

Many people are not aware that Congress has placed an annual $1,500 cap on Medicare coverage for outpatient physical therapy and speech therapy. That is, any charges over $1,500 that a patient incurs within a calendar year in the course of recovering from, say, surgery or a fall will have to come out of the patient's pocket.

As a practicing physical therapist, I know that rehabilitation often requires more care than the $1,500 cap allows. Cutting rehabilitation short frequently leads to greater -- and more expensive -- complications down the road.

By removing this arbitrary $1,500 cap, Congress would allow money to be used for cost-effective rehabilitation now, rather than on far more expensive procedures and treatments down the road.

I urge anyone who is a senior citizen or who has loved ones who are Medicare beneficiaries urge their elected representatives to remove this arbitrary limit and keep their promise to assure that seniors get the rehabilitation care they need.

Kirsten Melcher
Physical therapist

Odds favor backers of gambling bill

A fair game requires a level playing field. The nonbinding referendum being offered by the gambling industry (Star-Bulletin, Jan. 17), its latest attempt to get its foot in the door in Hawaii, would not be played fairly. Senate Bill 83's supporters know the odds are in their favor because millions would be poured into a massive public-relations blitz. Some people might be tempted to vote "yes" in a desperate attempt to quick-fix the economy, not because they favor gambling.

Now that we have a new governor with a sound plan, it is time to stay true to the course. Let's keep Hawaii a place where folks can enjoy the unique environment away from the problems that gambling would bring.

Al Rogers

Being a champion has a nice ring to it

Golf's Senior Tour has the right idea. The word "senior" does lack luster and has a negative connotation in this youth-oriented world. By changing its name to the Champions Tour, a much more marketable name, the players will feel better and the tour should do better.

Senior citizens should follow suit and call themselves champions, too. After all, they are all champions for surviving life's travails and they are all finishers of the grueling rat race.

What a blast it would be to be called a champion instead of a senior. One's self-esteem would soar to be given a champion discount rather than a senior discount. And when one forgets where he parked his car in the shopping center, it's much more comforting to realize that he is having a champion moment rather than a senior moment.

Champions could help finance Medicare by licensing advertising slogans. For example, Geritol, All Bran and Viagra would bid millions to be designated the official breakfasts of champions.

Richard Y. Will

Bus plan attracts L.A. commuters

In Los Angeles we have Rapid Bus Transit ("Light-rail plan gets ho-hum reaction," Jan. 16). It has been so successful on the initial Wilshire Blvd. line that another RBT line has been added on Vermont Avenue, with more lines to come.

Our mass-transit authority has learned the hard way that compared to rail systems, RBTs are less expensive to build at a fraction of the cost of a new rail line, are flexible and will attract a record number of riders in clean and comfortable transit vehicles.

Most important, RBT does its job, which is to move large amounts of commuters. I use the RBT a lot to the west side, which beats driving or riding a regular city bus.

Dennis Pierce
Los Angeles, Calif.

How to write us

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

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