Letters to the Editor

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Bushies party on while soldiers die

When I complain about the $40 million President Bush is spending on the inaugural festivities, I have been told, "But it's not taxpayers' money; it's private donations!" Good grief, that's what makes it worse! Why do you think wealthy private citizens are donating that money? Past favors and hope of future favors!

Legislators are now talking about raising the death payments of soldiers who die in combat to more than $100,000 each. Divide 40 million by 100,000 and the answer is 400 families could be paid $100,000. But what defines a combat death? Does a death in a bum Humvee that turns over count as a combat death? Can you imagine the court challenges? The lawyers get paid and the families wait forever.

Yoshie Ishiguro Tanabe

Redemption costs more than it's worth

I have read many letters about the new container recycling program, but none has addressed the dollars-and-cents cost to those trying to comply.

Hence, let me make the following assumptions, which I think are conservative:

» The minimum round-trip drive will be about four miles. At 20 mpg and $2.35 per gallon for gas, this costs $.47.

» Assume the minimum cost for wear and tear of driving four miles is $.05.

» It will take at least 40 minutes to drive that four-mile round trip, wait to hand in your empties and get your refund. At the Hawaii minimum wage of $6.25 per hour, this costs $4.17 for your time (even if you don't work, your time should be worth at least minimum wage).

Total unreimbursed cost for the above is thus $4.69. You would have to recycle 94 containers just to repay yourself for your time, gas, and wear and tear on your car. But we would still have $5.64 down the drain in total deposits on those 94 containers, which would require another 94 containers to recoup the refundable portion of the original 94. And so on; one would never come out ahead.

Once again, the bureaucrats have demonstrated their absolute disdain for any value of a citizen's time and investment. Even if one were willing to go along with this charade, those of us who live in high-rises simply do not have the space to store empties until it would make even a modicum of sense to turn them in. My guess is that most citizens will soon get enough of the hassle and simply go back to their prior habits; I know that I, for one, will be in that group.

R. W. Parkinson

One senator doesn't make a 'democracy'

The writer of the Jan. 11 letter "U.S. should fix its own democracy first" is another typical Bush basher who can't accept reality. He extols the courage of Sen. Barbara Boxer of California for her courage to "question democracy."

Last week, as our Constitution dictates, the votes of the electors were counted by the Congress. But before that formality could take place, the country had to be subjected to the political nonsense about alleged irregularities in Ohio. (To his credit, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry wanted no part of it.)

In the end, the objection to the count was soundly defeated: the House vote was 267-31; the Senate vote was 74-1, the one objecting vote in the Senate from newly re-elected Sen. Boxer. The writer states "one of the hundred senators thinks we should get our democracy in order before we start spreading it throughout the world." Since when does "one" of a "hundred" constitute the opinion of a "democracy"?

Thomas Sanders

We must develop alterative energies

Why is it that our leaders don't understand that we want to act as stewards for our children and future generations? To drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is clearly not in the best interest of future generations.

We are looking at this situation from the perspective presented to us by the oil industry. Wouldn't it be better to spend brain power coming up with better transportation alternatives? Haven't we been dependent on the gasoline engine long enough? Isn't it time for a new way to move us from one place to another? What happened to antigravity belts, for instance?

Just think how different we would feel if we weren't having to worry about finding the next trillion barrels of oil. Imagine what we could do with the money used to build and repair roads. We have to want a better way to live; I believe we have the brainpower to come up with better answers.

Carol Taylor

Mainland quake could send tsunami here

The ominous sight of a dark wall of water rolling slowly down a main street cluttered with buses, cars, trees, homes, refrigerators, planks of wood by the ton, and all manner or matter of human possessions, including floating victims by the thousand, is an image of nature's wrath hard to forget. Islands literally obliterated from the map, and countless relatives lost forever in its wake, 160,000 and still counting.

One might wonder, if it was an act of God, what he had in mind. Yet we ponder the University of Hawaii's $30 million in losses of research caused by human clutter, garbage, tires, you name it, in a stream that suddenly became a raging torrent, and we wonder why. Oh, dear. I've lost my car. What a contrast. Thunderstorms erupt on the North Shore, lighting up the night sky, blowing out transformers, an inconvenience to many, who announce they've never seen the likes of it before.

Imagine a 9.5-magnitude earthquake off the coast of San Francisco, creating a similar tsunami that heads west, with us sitting in its path.

I'm not sure if the 15th story in Makiki would be high enough to survive, let alone the rest of the state. Then I'm sure we'll observe something we've never seen the likes of before, no matter how much research and garbage we've collected.

John Werrill

Band leader's ouster should be reconsidered

It has been several years since I have visited Hawaii, but I still think of it as a special place and sort of second home, having performed in Honolulu and the islands countless times. My wife recalls disembarking in Honolulu in 1940 to the welcoming strains of the Royal Hawaiian Band at the pier. I have always admired such gestures of Hawaii's caring aloha spirit.

But something has happened. Friends have sent me news clippings about disgruntled musicians and confrontation in the Royal Hawaiian Band leading to the dismissal of their leader after 24 years of service. That does not sound like the Hawaii I knew and loved. Although I do not know the full background of this controversy, I do know Aaron Mahi.

I have had the privilege of working with Aaron when he has prepared the choir prior to my arriving in the islands for major choral and instrumental concerts. He has always been a joy to work with. I know his fine musicianship and academic background, his having studied at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Conn., not far from where I live. I have learned from him about the traditions of Hawaii, and admired his devotion to and respect for the Hawaiian culture, language and music. When I learned of Aaron's appointment as leader of the Royal Hawaiian Band more than 20 years ago, I thought it was a perfect match.

Many young men with his credentials would have chosen to pursue his profession on the mainland. But Aaron Mahi returned to his island home prepared to serve.

Some people may want change for change's sake, but I ask you to consider the risks of such an action. The Royal Hawaiian Band is not just another municipal band. It is unique to Hawaii, steeped in Hawaiian tradition dating back to King Kamehameha III. I respectfully ask the mayor and all interested citizens to reconsider this recent drastic decision and give Aaron Mahi an open and fair hearing. That is more in the aloha spirit of Hawaii.

Dave Brubeck
Wilton, Conn.

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