LETTERS for August 19 issue
MAKE INTELLIGENT CHOICES WHILE VOTING
This time, please do not vote for anyone just because of “name recognition,” like most people do.
Go to the political forums, ask questions and listen to the candidates. What are the issues most important to you? How a candidate comes across to the public is how they are going to come across to the other council members.
Will they have the “pull” with other council members to get things done, or will they just “butt heads?”
Please do not vote blindly!
LES POTTS, Napili
POLITICAL SIGNS ARE POLLUTION
I totally agree with comments regarding the pollution of political signs.
When people find out that I am running for office, the first question is, “Where’s your signs?”
I want to strangle them. Those signs are pollution, and I will not contribute to that destruction. It is also a waste of money and an eyesore on our beautiful island.
If a candidate can’t stand up without signs, then our community is missing out on good values.
SU CAMPOS, Napili
NO TIME FOR PARTY LINES
As a registered Republican, I urge everyone to vote for Neil Abercrombie this Primary Election. We need a governor with a vision for the future and a world view; someone who will lead us with integrity, dignity and true “smarts.”
Now is not the time to play politics or vote along party lines. It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It’s about being smart. And it’s about voting for the best person to lead and govern our state with intelligence and the strength that comes from doing good, real good, for the people of Hawaii now and for generations to come.
Finally, we have someone who can and will help bring us out of the darkness created by the last administration… and yes, I voted for both of them. My mistake; I won’t make another one like that this time!
BLAISE J. NOTO, Kihei
KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF HEALTH CARE
I believe health care decisions should be made by the patient, their family and their physicians, not Bureaucrats in Washington. We don’t want physicians being agents of the state.
People want quality health care, and they want the system to be affordable to them personally and to the nation as a whole. High cost and inability to pay prevent too many of us from obtaining health care.
Federal Bureaucrats think they can solve complex medical problems by blue ribbon panels. Although supported by some, the notion of guidelines has won universal approval among practicing clinicians who are apprehensive and suspicious that federal treatment protocols will bind medical practitioners to treat medical beneficiaries with particular ailments in a certain way or mandate justification for deviating from government set standers. The concept behind guidelines is simplistic and denies the critical value of the physician’s judgment.
Federal guidelines, in the beginning, will be no more than recommendations. Standards will eventually become requirements and will be regarded by government as directives to physicians. Any deviation will probably be assumed incorrect.
Government benchmarks for medical care may be a partial solution to huge budget deficits, but there is a real danger that restrictive guidelines may cripple physicians’ efforts to provide care for the elderly and others unfortunate enough to have a complicated illness.
Standers assume that once a patient has an affliction, the diagnoses and the treatment always follow. Logically, if this were really the case, we could replace skilled clinicians with technicians. Any practicing physician knows that medicine is an art steeped in uncertainty, and patients with the same ailment differ in both their presentation and their response to therapy.
The Obama administration may be operating under a Utopian delusion that patients can be treated in a cookbook fashion. But no government computer, however detailed, can possibly dictate exactly what should be done for each individual patient.
CHAYNE MARTEN, Napili
THERE’S STILL BIG MONEY IN WAR
“Extra profits come from wars. Let’s alert our senators.” Dwight Eisenhower got it straight all right, but he didn’t know the half of it. He prophetically warned us about the “Military-Industrial Complex,” though Blackwater and KBR hadn’t even been invented yet.
You’ve heard of them. They’re the contractors who service our armies of occupation, so that we don’t need to hire so many soldiers… sort of mercenary supply companies. Naturally, they lobby for more conflicts.
So does Electric Boat Corp. It makes those multi-billion-dollar nuclear subs that no longer have any known useful function. Congress recently increased their production to generate more corporate profits and more jobs. Even our liberal congressmen helped out.
Other corporations that manufacture more utilitarian equipment love war, too. But what they really prize is a series of widely separated smallish ones. That’s because it is often very difficult to move heavy weapons from one combat zone to another, especially where there are no railroads, as in Afghanistan. Thus, it’s easier for the Pentagon to buy new, which it really loves to do anyway.
Consequently, the “complex” would just as soon have us hold off invading Iran until the existing equipment is moved out of neighboring Iraq. That’s too conveniently close. Wait until it’s all in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ll never get it back from there. As it is, there are 2.8 million pieces in Iraq still waiting to leave. And Afghanistan already has 15,000 heavy mine-resistant troop carriers. We can kiss those babies goodbye when we leave someday. They’ll be too beat up and costly to lug all the way home. Might as well leave them for the Taliban and start from scratch.
Understandably, all those heavy-arms makers are cheerfully supported by the Pentagon itself. Generals don’t get paid for making peace, you know. Nor do they get promoted for understating the hazards posed by potential adversaries. Every two-bit antagonist is inflated into a serious threat in military intelligence estimates.
Ronald Reagan used to warn us (during the Contra War) that Nicaragua wasn’t all that far from Harlingen, Texas. Stirring up fear is about as old a political ploy as there is.
Quieter but equally expensive are the nuclear weapons laboratories. They make plenty of profit just by servicing our ludicrous oversupply of bombs, but they’d like to make still more. They’re always pressing to “modernize” our arsenal. That means adding some fancy new warheads. Now if there is one thing that the whole world can agree on, it’s that we already have too many warheads, but that doesn’t deter the companies that make them.
Indeed, this is true of most weapons. Whether more unneeded ones continue to be built depends largely on the clout of their congressional delegations. That’s why we have runways overflowing with extra C-19 cargo planes, and harbors jammed with surplus aircraft carriers and destroyers. Occasionally a biggie like the F-22 gets the ax, but mostly the unholy alliance between Congress and the arms producers keeps us wallowing in costly pointless weaponry.
And some of what we can’t use, we sell. We’re the biggest arms merchant in the world, most famously to Taiwan and Israel, which sometimes gets us into big trouble.
So, 50 years later, it’s clear that old Ike knew what he was talking about. Too bad he didn’t do something about it back then.
WILLIAM A. COLLINS, Via E-mail
APPOINTING THE BOE A BAD IDEA
Voters should be very concerned about an attempt by a small group to replace Hawaii’s democratically elected Board of Education with governor appointees.
Instead of representing parents, students and educators, appointed Board of Education members would have only one constituent: the governor who selects the member to office and unilaterally controls the educational agenda and budget. Appointments would be made without true public involvement, based on politics and party lines instead of the needs of our students.
States with appointed school boards have no checks and balances, a higher turnover of superintendents and the lowest average scores in the nation. Eight of the bottom ten states in the Quality Counts 2010 national educational ranking have appointed school boards.
Ask any educator, and they will tell you that improvements happen when the school system is supported with adequate resources, facilities, a rigorous curriculum, effective leaders and teachers, and active community involvement.
Despite declining funds for public education, student achievement continued to rise this year, and Hawaii is now a finalist in the highly competitive federal Race to the Top program, the largest educational grant incentive in our nation’s history. In order to increase success throughout our schools, Hawaii needs more public participation and collaboration in education, instead of allowing an appointed few to decide what is best for students.
Hawaii voters fought hard in 1964 to take control of public schools by choosing an elected Board of Education. They understood that education is everyone’s business, not just the governor’s, and accountability and responsibility must be shared by all.
GARRETT TOGUCHI, Chairman, Hawaii State Board of Education
HOPE AND HOPELESSNESS IN AMERICA
These first decades of the 21st century likely will become known in the future as the time when the global power center finally shifted from the North Atlantic world to the Indo-Pacific world.
Changing economic and political geographies spell the end of American global hegemony and a dramatic decline in the American way of life. While the U.S. might remain the sole military superpower for some time to come, its social and economic competitiveness has passed its prime. All the signs of decline are there for everyone to see. The challenge for Americans is to address these changing geographic realities in ways that might preserve some vestiges of a once-dominant nation’s quality of life.
The rise of China and India, for example, is driven in part by strategic investments in the key ingredients of socioeconomic growth. Building infrastructure and educating citizens are two critical areas where these emerging economies are outperforming the U.S. Indeed, by most international measures, the U.S. is below average or merits a failing grade on many important indicators of social well-being. America’s education system is on life support. States have dis-invested in schools and universities at alarming rates, and higher education students are burdened with skyrocketing tuition, resulting in crushing debt burdens after graduation. Basic infrastructure is in dreadful shape across the nation. We have an aging air traffic control system stuck with 1950s technologies and mentalities, and highways, railroads and electrical grids that are crumbling and substandard at best. The nation’s electronic communications capacity and speed have been surpassed by many other countries.
Even more alarming, American democracy is in crisis. Congress might as well hang a banner over its entrance reading “abandon hope and civility all ye who enter!” The political system is hopelessly mired in self-destructive partisanship, with little meaningful legislation benefiting the country — notwithstanding the recent vote on health care reform. Tea parties and coffee klatches will not help restore trust in a broken system, where demonizing other points of view and verbally trashing opponents have become acceptable discourse.
A deeper understanding of economic geography principles would highlight the fatal flaws in American society today. A successful manufacturing system requires the U.S. to make things that other societies want, at competitive prices. We do well in some areas, but the average hourly labor cost and regulations make us less competitive in the global marketplace. As consumers, we demand high-quality goods at the lowest possible price, and steadfastly refuse to consider the social and environmental costs of this unsustainable approach. We demand cheap gasoline but do not support alternative energy strategies, and we turn a blind eye to misguided policies in the Middle East that keep the cheap oil flowing. China even surged ahead of the U.S. in 2009 to become the leading investor in renewable energy technologies. Unfortunately, Americans cling stubbornly to outdated and underfunded social entitlement programs while decrying any attempt to raise taxes to pay for them. Rural and urban poverty are at epidemic levels, yet any attempt to achieve human equality is denounced as socialism or worse.
Will hope or hopelessness shape our future? Although the U.S. may have lost its global preeminence in many areas, there are still opportunities to restructure society to achieve a decent quality of life while staying competitive in the global economy. This requires politicians, business leaders and ordinary people to understand how and why America’s economic geography has changed. We need to admit that we have failed to address the basic challenges facing our society and that other countries are advancing by taking steps that we should have begun decades ago. Only by admitting its national weakness can the U.S. find a way towards rebuilding its future potential. If we fail in this endeavor, future generations will look back on this decade as the beginning of the end of America’s hegemonic glory.
DAVID KEELING, American Geographical Society’s Writers Circle