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Tax at the gas pump could pay insurance

The question Vince Krog asks about uninsured drivers — “Is there no solution to this illegal problem?” — can be answered yes, but only if our leaders are willing to take on the insurance industry lobbyists (“Require drivers to have insurance,” Letters, Star-Advertiser, March 29).

There is only one way to make certain that everybody carries a minimum level of car insurance at all times: Tack on a small surcharge to every gallon of gasoline sold. This “pay at the pump” concept would create a pool of funds to purchase liability insurance for each driver in Hawaii.

Car owners would be free to purchase additional coverage, of course, but no driver would be able to escape buying at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, set by the Legislature. (Electric cars would pose an issue, but they will make up a tiny percentage of vehicles on the road for many years to come.)

The surcharge, which probably would cost about 50 cents a gallon, would have the additional advantage of encouraging gasoline conservation.

Robert Ristelhueber

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Moving remains can be a good thing

Regarding dig sites for the rail and burials found, Hinaleimoana Falemei, vice chairwoman of the Oahu Island Burial Council, asks if the rail were to be built through a Kaneohe cemetery, would the public accept it (“212 dig sites dot rail leg,” Star-Advertiser, March 27).

Probably not, but from what’s being written, the rail isn’t going through a cemetery.

In Wahiawa, where I spent my youth, an entire uncared-for graveyard was dug up and all its remains were reinterred in the beautiful, well-cared-for Mililani Cemetery.

Wouldn’t anyone want their remains moved to an improved and classier neighborhood?

Bill Punini Prescott


Council chairman clearly has a conflict

Nestor Garcia’s statement that he does not think that he was hired to be the executive director of the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce because he is on the City Council is laughable.

Why does he think he was hired?

He is in a position to help many pro-rail companies. To be paid $60,000 a year to take minutes and notes at quarterly meetings is a blatant conflict of interest, and the Council along with the Ethics Commission needs to investigate this immediately.

All of his votes regarding rail should be null and void.

I thought we got rid of these shenanigans when Rod Tam left.

Jim Quimby


Governor should not raid disaster funds

Richard Borreca says “it appears Abercrombie will have to take the Hurricane Relief Fund and the rainy day fund now, rather than in the next biennium” (“Waikiki casino could help relieve pressure to tax other sources,” On Politics, Star-Advertiser, March 29).

A natural disaster may hit Hawaii sooner rather than later, perhaps even during Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s tenure as governor. Who will get the blame if there are no relief funds left when it hits? Will we be able to rely on the federal government to bail us out?

Donald C. Blaser


Don’t cut services; seek more revenues

The message we are hearing is that Hawaii can expect gigantic cuts to community programs and that government needs to eliminate the fat.

This is the wrong direction.

There is growing sentiment, which I support, that the ideas for generating revenues should be more fully explored. There is plenty of money. We need good choices and resistance to pressure from powerful business interests, who have more influence than vulnerable constituencies and families.

The New York Times published an editorial on March 20 about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. It mirrors a perspective that resonates for me: “Calling for painful spending cuts, it turns out, is the easy part. Calling for relatively painless tax increases requires real political courage, which Mr. Cuomo and state lawmakers have yet to display.”

Here in Hawaii, we yearn for similar political courage.

I recently obtained a list of the exemptions to our general excise tax. The list is four pages long and inspires my earnest question: Why so many exemptions?

Let’s have a serious review of the list, with the intention of eliminating some of the exemptions in order to balance the budget.

Nanci Kreidman
Domestic Violence Action Center, Honolulu


Rail project will put people back to work

It’s great news that the city has awarded more construction contracts for the rail project. As a member of the construction trades, I know that many of our members are struggling and need work.

Some of the trades have as many as half of their members on the bench, and these workers have been laid off for months. We cannot survive like this.

Thank goodness rail is moving forward, because it gives us a chance to earn a living and feed our families.

Arnold Wong


U.S. history tilted toward highways

I agree that we should be using our resources better. I also believe that we should stop telling half-truths and present all facts (“Higher gas price can have upside,” Letters, Star-Advertiser, March 29).

It’s true that Europeans have been paying more for their fuel for a long time, but it’s not because they are more environmentally conscious. It’s because they have incredibly high tax rates that in some cases are more than 50 percent of the total fuel cost.

As for our share of greenhouse gases, those six countries mentioned make up one-sixth of the square miles of the United States.

Before I was born, elected officials who did what their constituents wanted abandoned rail projects in favor of highways. Europe went another direction and, as a result, their countries are connected by more railways.

We all wish things were different, but we are where we are and we can only look forward.

Michelle Craig


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