Beware new normal that infringes liberty
There is quite a bit of talk of a “new normal” suggesting an enduring nature to the country’s reaction to the current crisis.
If by “new normal,” we imply lasting changes in lifestyle choices for better physical, mental and/or spiritual health, then I am all for it.
If the new normal is current government declarations and restrictions, some seemingly arbitrary — as in the most recent Easter weekend curfew enacted on Oahu just to “see how it goes” — then I suggest caution is warranted.
A risk-free society is not a free society, particularly when government caprice goes on unchecked. Certainly, government has a duty to employ measures to protect the people, but these measures — particularly those that impinge on basic liberties — ought to end when the crisis abates.
Declaring these as part of a “new normal” would suggest otherwise. We should be wary of such efforts. Despite their seeming benevolence, they erode liberty for safety and security and should never be normal.
Restart economy via in-state stay-cations
With the majority of Hawaii coronavirus cases being related to travel to the mainland, it would be a mistake to open Hawaii back up to mainland travel too quickly. Yet, community spread has been minuscule and the time to reopen the economy is near.
Thus, the state should encourage residents to become the tourists before reopening the state to mainland travel. For a two-week period, government and the media should promote “Travel 808,” a campaign designed to encourage locals to attend attractions and businesses normally intended for the tourists.
This would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many local residents to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii without the crowds that tourism brings while supporting our local economy simultaneously.
Every school should grow food for future
I couldn’t agree more with the recent commentaries on the urgent need for planning resilient food systems (“From farm to food,” Star-Advertiser, Insight, April 12). It is also correct that people have been saying this for years with only marginal changes being made.
Despite the best-laid plans, local agriculture always seems to run into the realities of economics — land and labor are simply too expensive compared to other places.
However, where do we have large swaths of underutilized land and thousands of able and (mostly) willing laborers? Schools.
Imagine the possibilities with every school seeking out a patch of land on their respective campuses to plant “resilience” crops and then connecting it to the curriculum at all grade levels. Local food producers could partner with schools to manage supply of certain crops for school cafeterias and/or as part of an emergency food network.
Given our current circumstances, what could possibly be more relevant and compelling in education?
Option to cut nurses’ pay unbelievable
Gov. David Ige’s proposal to cut state nurses’ wages by as much as 20% in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak is not only disheartening but shows zero respect for us as first responders (“Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s plan for public worker pay cuts gets pushback,” Star-Advertiser, April 16). Nurses put their lives at risk daily to help others, especially during pandemics like the one we are in now.
During a crisis in which health care workers are essential personnel, this is beyond comprehensible.
No evictions, utility shutoffs, foreclosures
COVID-19 is causing a financial burden on Hawaii’s residents, and that is evident by rising unemployment rates and strained welfare agencies.
The facts are clear: Hawaii’s residents were told to stay home, and now they will be homeless. Hawaii’s businesses were told to close their doors, and now they will close for good.
That is why it is absolutely vital for Hawaii’s state government to stop “money out” practices that threaten housing and job security.
No evictions, foreclosures and essential-utility shutoffs for the duration of the pandemic, as well as for at least six months into the future. Doing so will help us jump-start the economy when this crisis is over.
I believe we can stop this pandemic in its tracks while keeping Hawaii safe and secure for its residents and visitors.
Disgraceful that EPA failing environment
It’s a disgrace that the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are using the COVID-19 pandemic to weaken and, in some cases, forget enforcement of essential U.S. environmental laws.
While we are all focused on health, local food sustainability, care of our aina and nature — which finally has a chance to rest and rejuvenate — our public health and environment are threatened by wanton neglect.
While the world focuses on the pandemic, I am signing one petition after another as polluters push through highly questionable, environmentally dangerous projects all over the country.
Never before has the EPA relinquished its obligations to enforce this country’s landmark environmental laws at this scale, and that is flat-out wrong on every level.
The EPA exists to protect human health, our air and water, and the living environment. Allowing the construction of polluting projects and the release of toxic air pollutants that exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems, amid a virus that can cause respiratory failure, is irresponsible.
Waimea, Hawaii island