We oppose the governor’s 20% state employee pay cut (“Gov. David Ige proposes 20% pay cuts for teachers, other Hawaii public employees,” Star-Advertiser, Top News, April 15). Instead, policymakers should find every alternative to preserve public sector jobs and pay. Use special funds, rainy day funds, and emergency taxes on the very wealthy.
In this crisis, the private sector cannot pull us out of economic decline alone. Government and essential services keep the economy from hurting even worse. Not to mention, government officials at unemployment insurance offices are working harder than ever. Before COVID-19, the state already was unable to fill many positions due to low pay. One example is our teaching force: We are short about 1,000 qualified teachers. We should not cut pay of those we need to stay working.
While many are hurting, some are thriving. So why not temporarily tax the wealthiest who may profit during crisis?
Don’t make the economic crisis worse.
President, Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii Chapter
To save money, reduce workers’ paid leave
There might be a way to preserve government employee wages instead of cutting it by 20%. Gov. David Ige wants to cuts wages by 20% because of the reduction in revenue.
Wages are only a part of an employee’s total compensation. If the budget requires a reduction in expenses paid to each employee, why not reduce their paid leave? If Ige eliminated paid sick leave (21 days), paid vacation leave (21 days), and paid holiday leave (13 days), that will amount to eliminating having to pay 55 days per employee per year. This eliminates about 20% of the total compensation paid to each employee.
Employees can maintain their wages but not have the benefits of being paid while not working. This can be a temporary solution until things return to normal. Wages, i.e., cash flow, are the lifeblood of economics. It should be preserved as much as possible.
Teachers need support, now more than ever
Since March, parents in Hawaii and across the nation have realized a newfound respect for the role of teachers in our lives and in the development of our children.
Online instruction has been a challenge to which teachers have risen with creativity and compassion.
It is therefore mystifying that Gov. David Ige would choose this moment to suggest a 20% pay cut for teachers (“Gov. David Ige proposes 20% pay cuts for teachers, other Hawaii public employees,” Star-Advertiser, Top News, April 15).
It is hard enough to recruit and retain quality teachers. Too often we rely on their passion; but what must it do to their morale right now to casually suggest cutting their pay?
This is a moment when we need them focused on the children with enthusiasm and innovation, not worrying about making ends meet over the coming months. Let’s either talk about pay increases for teachers or just leave teachers out of budget discussions for the time being.
Health, not politics, the basis for lockdowns
When is it time to reopen our country, end the lockdown, return to our jobs, get together with friends?
Certain self-serving elements in our society — President Donald Trump’s MAGA supporters — argue that the lockdowns are curtailing their rights and liberties, even though it is been demonstrably shown that in fact they are essential for public health, safety and saving lives. But this does not deter the Trump acolytes and ideologues, the Second Amendment gun-rights protesters, the Ayn Rand disciples and so on — all folks who typically confuse “liberties” with privileges, “rights” with their own selfish agendas.
Meanwhile, our president unashamedly encourages them and in so doing, foments chaos, division and antipathy, rather than cooperation and healing, and thereby turning the COVID-19 pandemic into a culture war to serve his own political ends.
There will come a time to correctly and sanely open the country. To do so too soon will negate the gains we have made in fighting the virus and simply make matters much worse.
Hydroxychloroquine should not be misused
A few years ago, I was prescribed hydroxychloroquine, brand name Plaquenil, for an autoimmune condition doctors thought I had. At the beginning, I was told to wear long pants, long-sleeve tops and a hat because Plaquenil increased skin sensitivity to sunlight. After a few weeks on Plaquenil, I developed a very itchy rash and had to stop taking it. In the end, I didn’t even have the condition.
I would not recommend anyone take this drug without a diagnosis of a condition for which it is currently approved. It has a lot of side effects and you might have something to lose.
Use wellness, vitamin D3 to help prevent disease
Hawaii is not getting the epidemic of the pandemic, proving “Lucky you live Hawaii”!
The obvious reason is the same reason why tourists flock to Hawaii: Our winter feels like summer to the tourists. We got sunshine power on a winter’s day, making natural vitamin D3 for you and me.
Medical science says that vitamin D3 will help prevent colds, flus and cancer.
The novel coronavirus is a terrible demon virus, but it is still a virus. Our immune system can identify and learn to kill this virus. We can learn how to enhance and support our immunity to resist and heal COVID-19.
Wellness works to reduce and prevent disease, not just flatten the curve. When we return to work, wellness will continue to help protect us and reduce the upcoming second wave of COVID-19.
Dr. Myron Berney, N.D.
Use screening to allow tourists back into isles
Getting our tourists back is an imperative. We can bring them over by jet if the state, the airlines and airports cooperate by taking temperatures of the passengers before boarding and testing the travelers while they are waiting to board, while they are on the airplane or when they have arrived.
Those who have the antibodies and can provide a certificate (like the TB certificate we require for restaurant workers) can travel without the test. The governor mentioned that the Abbott Lab’s test takes 15-30 minutes to get results. With enough of these tests, we can make it feasible to start bringing in visitors.
On another matter, we need to limit the number of cars being allowed into our island — the rental cars, and those from the military. Soldiers can bring in their cars for free and then they just leave them here. It’s the cars, not the people, that ruin our little island.
Let counties decide on exercise on beaches
As a resident of Kauai, I’m proud of how proactive our mayor, Derek Kawakami, has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. He knows the island, and his concern and aloha for the people are tremendous.
Part of knowing the island is an awareness of the beaches. Most of ours don’t have any safe places to walk along the coast. The only outdoor exercise I get is walking on the beach, and I find the statewide ban of exercise on the beach by Gov. David Ige to be too much, too late. That decision should be left to the mayors of individual islands.
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