Letters to the Editor for July 22
COUPLE HELPED HIGH-RISK TEENS
I spend my free time advocating for high-risk teens. They are typically alone, misunderstood, segregated and alienated by both students and adults, which exacerbates their lack of basic social and life skills needed for the world after high school.
When Betty and Roy Sakamoto of Sakamoto Properties learned of my special Baldwin graduates, they graciously invited all of us for dinner at Pineapple Grill.
The couple personally waited up to escort us to a round of applause and congratulations from everyone in the restaurant. A variety of appetizers awaited, and the music was changed to appeal more to the students.
The chef selected and prepared the perfect menu topped off with career and college tips from the servers. The Sakamotos also provided us with overnight accommodations and transportation the following day to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
Thanks to Betty and Roy, the graduates tasted the joy of freedom from negative judgments and walked away from the experience infused with a new hope that who they are will no longer be defined by the mistakes of their past, but the best of their future.
ROUNDABOUTS ARE EFFECTIVE
As with everything else in life, one must get used to new things.
And the “new thing” is miles better than the condition currently.
Roundabouts have proven to work in countless cities, and to a magnitude Lahaina could never comprehend and would never need (i.e. Paris, Rome, Madrid, London, where literally millions of cars pass through even eight-lane traffic circles).
I am sure Maui could handle a miniature version of that. Be open!
Consider the pros and cons, and if you’re innovative and open-minded, then you will realize the much greater benefits. A life to save — an innocent school-goer — is worth 4 percent more attention of a car driver, isn’t it?
DR. GEORG WOODMAN, Via E-mail
GLAD TO SEE KAHO‘OHALAHALA RUN FOR MAYOR
Mahalo nui loa to Sol and his Kaho‘ohalahala ‘Ohana for having the courage and clarity to run for office as Maui Nui mayor. I see you as the most gracious, insightful, honest and loving person I can currently imagine to lead us into an uncertain future with our community’s sustainability at heart. You give us renewed hope… so, “YES WE CAN!” Let’s work together to make it happen.
To me, your endeavor represents the epitome of what Aunty Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona (recognized kahuna lapa‘au) taught as ho‘oponopono — putting things right through simple forgiveness, atonement, love and gracious acceptance.
THOMAS ALLEN CRAIG. Makawao
UNEMPLOYED BECOME A POLITICAL FOOTBALL
Fifteen million Americans are currently unemployed, and nearly half of that number has been actively and fruitlessly seeking employment for longer than six months. The depth and breadth of our labor market crisis is the greatest in over 50 years.
Though the unemployment rate dropped slightly in June from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent, this is deceiving.
As noted economist Dean Baker explained, joblessness receded slightly only because 652,000 Americans left the labor force in June. Additionally, the number of employed workers fell by over 300,000, and the “establishment survey” of businesses used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that average hourly wages and workweek hours are declining.
Thank goodness for unemployment insurance, which helps cushion us from abject poverty in the face of such a dearth of jobs. At least Congress consistently does one thing right. Historically, both sides of the aisle have been able to agree that when unemployed workers are unable to find jobs due to no fault of their own, a decent society provides a cushion so that they can weather the storm until able once again to contribute to rebuilding our economy.
But Republicans and deficit-hawk Democrats have not only turned their backs on goodness, but on the nation’s 15 million unemployed people and the children and families who depend upon them.
Even though economists of all stripes and allegiances understand that unemployment benefits are among our most effective tools in a job crisis and the current recession, lawmakers are betting that fanning the flames of deficit hysteria will get them reelected in the fall.
Despite attempts to extend critically needed, but expiring, unemployment benefits, the Senate has once again let us down. Republicans filibustered attempts to help American workers. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a Democrat, joined them, leaving Senate Democrats one short of staving off a bit of suffering to millions of us before leaving town to enjoy their own sumptuous Fourth of July picnics.
As reported by the National Employment Law Project, the Economic Policy Institute and the Department of Labor, there are nearly five workers actively vying for every one available job.
So, come on — we may be jobless, we may be angry and frustrated that jobs have disappeared, and there is seemingly no political will to create more through a second stimulus, we may be plunging increasingly into poverty through no fault of our own. We may be dismayed that goodness has been abandoned by many on Capitol Hill. But we aren’t stupid. And we aren’t spoiled, and our children don’t deserve the long-term effects of poverty that Congress is foisting upon them in bids for votes in the fall elections.
Though they may ultimately lose office, the most immediate and devastated losers in their game are millions of Americans and their families who have been kicked to the curb as their unemployment benefits expire.
KAREN DOLAN, Institute for Policy Studies