For Saturday, October 9, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 9, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 12:28 a.m. HST, Oct 10, 2010
In February 2008 the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. A Democrat-controlled Congress passed a $168 billion stimulus measure, which President George W. Bush unfortunately signed. A year later, the unemployment rate had climbed to 8.9 percent. Then, the still-Democrat-controlled Congress passed, and President Barack Obama enthusiastically signed, a $787 billion stimulus package. In August 2010, 18 months after this, the unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent. Some say it is now closer to or over 10 percent.
Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are still talking about the need to spend even more to get us out of this recession. I think Americans know that a Congress which is raising taxes on both our work and savings to fund special interest groups like union pensions, while providing continuing illegal immigrant benefits, funding larger government payrolls and entitlement packages and increasing the deficit for our children and future generations will only make the economic crisis worse and last much longer.
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Republicans since the time of Reagan have run on two issues: Shrink the size of government and no new taxes (or lower taxes). Behind this rhetoric are some basic assumptions. One, government is generally evil, embodied in the phrase, "The government is best that governs least." Two, taxes are evil and that unfettered capitalism is best left alone.
Why don't we really test these two concepts? For example, let there be little or no regulations to hem in the financial genius of the heart of Wall Street. Oops, haven't we tried that recently and found out that unbridled greed can lead to economic catastrophe? Or maybe we can do away with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If products seriously injure or kill a number of consumers, sooner or later they will stop buying and using these products on their own, won't they?
The point is that government and government regulations can and should help regulate and protect capitalism and our way of life from certain basic excesses and flaws that occur within our economic system.
As Gov. Linda Lingle has experts pondering the elevated rail's final Environmental Impact Statement, we continue to be frustrated over our daily traffic congestion. Every day that goes by, we delay resolving our traffic problem. There are other mass transit systems that have been installed and tested across the mainland. Good systems. Hopefully the pro-rail people will allow us to look at these during this interim so we can go into the next step in case the rail is dropped, instead of stubbornly adhering to installing the rail and prolonging our islandwide traffic gridlocks that occurs daily.
Let's have open public discussions on a few other mass transit systems for our island, and if the rail is dropped, let's put several systems on the ballot this time and let the people choose. Then everyone can say, "The voters have spoken."
In his letter, Walter Mahr ("Aiona off-base about rights," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Oct. 7) fails to understand that we are speaking about equal rights versus special rights.
As a native Hawaiian, I, for one, do not support the Akaka Bill. There have been many privileges and special rights extended to native Hawaiians. Many native Hawaiian have excelled through choices they made and not through any special rights. I support Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona in not needing to vote for these special rights. When money from ceded lands cannot be accounted for by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, it makes me wonder what this money is being used for. When more than 30 percent of our prisoners are native Hawaiians and a large percentage of Hawaiians are homeless or on welfare, maybe they should make better choices.
CORRECTION: A previous version of a letter was misattributed. The letter “Equal rights different from special rights” was written by Max N. Calica of Mililani.