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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 26, 2010



The editorial (We'll all pay the price for kicking the can," March 15), contained a statement that Hawai'i's general excise tax is not a sales tax because it is levied on every transaction, and that compounding makes it the equivalent of about 11 percent sales tax.

That statement is incorrect. It is not the compounding ("pyramiding") that is the principal culprit. Hawai'i's GET on final sales has a low rate but a broad base (we tax just about everything, including services).

By contrast, on the Mainland the sales tax is levied on a much narrower base; food and medicine are often exempted, as are services. Hence, to raise the same amount of revenue (as the current GET) by taxing a much smaller number of goods and services would require Hawai'i to raise the rate to your "11 percent."

The issue is whether we prefer a broad base combined with a lower tax rate or a narrower base where some things are taxed at a zero rate and others are taxed at a much higher rate to collect the same amount of revenue.

james mak | Honolulu



It comes as no surprise that there was nothing in the Obama health reform bill about tort reform.

In the last election cycle, trial lawyers contributed $25 million more to legislators than the combined total of doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and HMOs. Moreover, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 1990 lawyers have contributed more than $1 billion to federal political candidates, not including their lobbyists.

Russell T. Stodd | Kahului, Maui



It appears The Advertiser's editors print more anti-marijuana articles than pro. On March 19, The Advertiser printed two articles denouncing the thought of legalization. ("Crimes soar in legal pot areas," Page A8 and "L.A. police say marijuana dispensaries a failed idea," Page B3).

And yet we have a "real-world" example that most educated people have heard of — Prohibition. It was called the "Noble Experiment." Well-meaning people felt compelled to force their views on the general public, likely because of a few "bad apples" that drank excessively and then acted badly.

So, was the Prohibition of alcohol a success? Absolutely — for Al Capone and other murderous criminals. Prohibition brought us such wonderful stories such as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre." You can see a direct comparison to these activities along our border with Mexico.

Decriminalization helps the poor saps who enjoy a toke. But we need legalization to put the drug lords out of business.

Maybe then we could at least keep some of it out of our schools. Ask any high schooler which is easier to get: alcohol or pot. Drug dealers don't ask for ID.

Wake up, America.

alan r. wehmer | Käne'ohe



"What were they thinking?" That's what our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will ask if the Land Use Commission allows houses to be built on the prime agricultural land at Koa Ridge.

Not only agronomists, but also economists, are warning that the world is running out of food. The world's population has increased in the past century because of abundant oil which could be extracted cheaply. It allowed liberal use of fertilizer to produce vast quantities of food, and lots of ships to transport it.

Now we are all aware that oil is becoming more expensive, as it is getting harder to find and more costly to extract, and the situation will get progressively worse over time.

Here, on our isolated islands, we'll feel the effects of the shortage earlier than the Mainland. It is a matter of when, not if, the ships will no longer bring enough food to feed us all. We are going to need every inch of arable land we have left.

Alice b. fisher | Honolulu



It's fascinating to read letters and columns that claim the president should be more fiscally responsible, when he inherited two wars and the worst recession in memory, among other problems.

I recall the Reagan years, when the national debt more than tripled because of increased military spending (40 percent) without raising taxes. By 1984, the feds were spending twice as much money as they took in, and the White House and Senate were controlled by the same party.

Then the Bushes took over and spent money like it was going out of style, on more wars and deregulation that led us right into the recession that the whole world is suffering from — so leaving everything up to big business has been proven a bad idea.

And in between, Clinton left us with a budget surplus go figure.

david chappell | Käne'ohe



The editors have chosen to write two recent "get tough on the homeless situation" editorials, which I applaud.

As a resident of Waikíkí for the past four years, I am constantly amazed at how quickly the hard-core homeless return after they have been removed by the city.

They are engaged in numerous activities besides sleeping on benches and on the beach next to visiting tourists, who, I am assuming, are just as turned off by them as are numerous residents of the neighborhood.

I have seen them lounging with their friends at public sites, including bus stops, while drunk and openly swigging from their wine bottles while carrying on loud, rude and obnoxious conversations.

Of course, panhandling is a constant pain, as is standing behind them at a check-out stand while they need forever to count out those begged-for nickels and dimes to pay for the bottle of cheap booze on the counter.

Since the city has housing for all who will take it, I suggest sitting in jail for those who won't. It is time to take back the city for the masses and the tourists who pay the taxes to support the city in the first place.

Gordon Wolfe | Honolulu



In the town of Waimea/Kamuela on the Big Island, there is a road widening project just starting — which is great if it's part of the stimulus package.

If it's not, why is the state/county spending nearly $4.5 million on a stretch that's less than one mile long?

It's not like the road is in bad condition; there are far worse roads around. Now that the state is withholding tax refund checks and having furlough Fridays, couldn't we spend that money on more important things?

If you've ever wondered why the state has no money for real problems, here's an example why. How many other frivolous projects are going on right now?

jason watai | Waimea, Big Island