For Thursday, June 17, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 17, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 1:40 a.m. HST, Jun 17, 2010
The budget crisis resulted in the loss of agriculture inspectors and the ongoing furlough situation, and comments from the produce importers showed that they understand the need for inspection ("Fresh costs," Star-Advertiser, June 13). What isn't clear is why the airlines are allowed to continue to transport goods to Hawaii without paying the inspection fee. Fifty cents per every 1,000 pounds of goods is supposed to be collected by airlines from importers (the shippers) and deposited into the pest inspection fund. Maybe if they started paying in, the situation wouldn't be so dire.
Charles Djou, my new congressman, promised to immediately begin cutting federal "out of control" spending once he got to Washington.
So what does he do? He sends out a slick mailing through his franking privilege, paid for with taxpayer money, in the guise of an information brochure, but which, in reality, looks far more like a campaign brochure. Included was a spurious poll, slanted to his right-wing agenda.
If Djou is really serious about cutting federal waste, I suggest he reimburse the taxpayers for this mailing, out of his campaign slush fund. I am not, however, going to hold my breath.
Gerald Chong ("Single-payer won't cut costs," Letters, June 15) has not done his homework. Health care financing is one area in which government is clearly more efficient than competition among private insurance companies.
Fragmentation in health care financing costs a lot of money, estimated at 20-25 percent of total health care costs. As a practicing physician, I can tell you traditional Medicare is much more accurate and effective in claims processing than privatized Medicare Advantage, Medicaid-managed care and mainland private insurance plans. The American Medical Association just released a study showing an average 20 percent error rate in claims processing by private health insurance plans. A similar 2008 AMA study looked at traditional Medicare and found a 2 percent error rate. Cost estimates of health reform proposals by the Lewin Group for Hawaii and other states show large projected savings for single-payer plans, enough to provide universal coverage with no co-pays for less than we now spend on health care.
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Gerald Chong ("Single-payer won't cut costs," Letters, June 15) states, "I cannot think of an instance in which a monopoly results in greater efficiency and lower administrative cost than a competitive free market." I agree. In America, five to six health insurance companies control most of the health insurance policies issued.
In the 1940s the insurance companies bribed members of Congress to exempt them from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. This means the insurance companies can and do collude to set prices and policies to increase profits at the expense of the public. This monopolistic practice results in greater administrative costs, less efficiency and no competition as this is a closed market. It's time to restore a competitive free market in health insurance. If Congress won't do anything, state governments can develop a Medicare-type single-payer program to compete with the health insurance monopoly.
Neil Abercrombie's idea to create a single-payer health plan for state workers is disturbing at best and shows just how out of touch he really is. For starters, can state government really run a health care plan better than the private sector? One only need look at our school system or the problems associated with the state employee retirement system to see that the answer is clearly no. To cut private business out of the picture would eliminate hundreds of local jobs, hurt affordability, and would virtually do away with choices for state employees and retirees. A state-sponsored single payer plan just goes to show Neil obviously lacks vision and foresight when it comes to dealing with such an important issue.
Reading about youths misusing the road on Tantalus ("Plans for nonskid road ...," Star-Advertiser, June 15) just made my blood boil. Non-skid areas at a cost of $175,000 is just ridiculous. In this time of economic difficulties, it is plain stupid. The areas will wear out and do not guarantee results.
I live in Makaha and that money could be better spent on the road out here. No one seems to care that we have had traffic jams now for more than two years due to city working days instead of nights. Traffic delays are daily and costly. The amount of gas wasted here while waiting on traffic is a typical disregard for an area of great need.
It is important to recognize programs that serve our community and keep us reminded of the threat that meth poses to our children. Having experimented with ice at a young age, I can attest firsthand to the dangers and heartbreaking outcomes associated with meth use, as it devoured my family and nearly shattered my dreams.
I am filled with gratitude for the Hawaii Meth Project and the necessary work it does as it strives to make our community a safer and more prosperous place to live.
The graphic images seen on television and humbling testimonies heard on the radio give our community an accurate glimpse into the life of a meth addict -- an important message to help defend our vulnerable teenagers.
I hope the slogan, "Not Even Once," lives on for the sake of our children and the future of Hawaii.
A typical day at Ala Moana Beach: Half the water goes to three or four standup paddle boarders and half the water goes to a dozen swimmers and several dozen people wading and floating. Too bad DNLR didn't follow our requests to study user numbers before putting in the buoys.
Shouldn't they move them out another 10 or 20 yards?
The debate over civil unions boils down to one question. Are civil unions as legislated by House Bill 444 legally (not religiously) equivalent to marriage, and therefore unconstitutional in Hawaii? Or are they a package of legal rights not equivalent to marriage?
If civil unions were a package of legal rights different from marriage, then why restrict them to unrelated couples? Brothers and sisters, parents and children, or three or more people could find it financially advantageous to enter into civil unions for inheritance tax treatment or health care coverage. Let the governor veto HB 444 and send it back to the Legislature to make civil unions available to everybody, not just to unrelated couples. Then they would not be marriage under a different name.
House Bill 444 is surprisingly short of substance. It says "Partners to a civil union ... shall have all the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative rules, court decisions, the common law, or any other source of civil law..."
How is this not a blanket endorsement of gay marriage? What part of "the same" am I missing? This is social engineering, not lawmaking.
There are already considerable rights for gays within the existing Hawaii Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationship law, such as hospital visitation, health care decision-making, health insurance, workers compensation, state pension and inheritance rights. What has not been seen is an actual listing of the additional new legal "rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities" that HB 444 seeks to confer onto gay civil unions. How can our legislators vote for or endorse legislation they cannot even define, except by reference to marriage?
One of the strongest arguments against passage of the civil unions bill is that the majority of Hawaii residents/voters are against it. It does not represent the will of the people because approximately 70 percent of Hawaii residents do not support passage. We seem to be willing to accept a decision of our governor based in part on the advice of religious leaders.
Your paper ("The civil unions divide," Star-Advertiser, June 12) gave two particular rabbis nearly a full page devoted to what and how they feel about a civil rights issue. Who cares what they think?
Hawaiians have a painful history of allowing religious leaders telling them what is best for them. Keep any and all religious arguments out of this civil rights issue.
Opponents of civil unions and HB 444 claim to be protecting marriage. What they are trying to protect is their status. Some of the rights they have are thought to be too precious to share with a minority of state residents.
I'm a bit tired of hearing about gays wanting special rights when in fact, it is the HB 444 opponents who want to maintain their "special" rights.
Civil union supporters want equal rights -- not special rights. And denying equal rights to a person based on his or her sexual orientation is discriminatory.
I was pleased to see that newly elected U.S. House Rep. Charles Djou stood up to his party and voted to repeal the discriminatory policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Let's hope that Gov. Linda Lingle will do the right thing as well and listen to the voices of reason and fairness and sign HB 444 into law.
As a lesbian mom, I hope Gov. Linda Lingle signs House Bill 444. Marital rights are designed to protect people who have taken legal responsibility for their partners and children. I took that l responsibility years ago. I have to pay for health care for my kids regardless of whether or not they're my birth children. I'll be paying for college when they're old enough to go. I can be sued for child support, and alimony if my partner and I break up. I can even be sued if my kids run someone over when they drive the family car.
Without civil unions, I don't have the rights that go along with the responsibilities I've already taken for my family.
Please, Gov. Lingle, do the right thing for Hawaii and for families like mine. Sign the civil unions bill and put an end to this conflict.
It may take a majority of the vote for an official to be elected, but once elected, the official must act on behalf of the entire community, of all who voted.
That is the true test of integrity and courage in government, not disenfranchising a minority to appease the majority. In this country, minorities also vote, and therefore deserve all the rights and privileges the majority may claim as their own.
HB 444 and all similar issues are those of equal citizenship, one of the pillars of the democracy our country was intended to be.