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LETTERS for December 18 issue

By Staff | Dec 18, 2014

Work out differences with our forks

Why we are… where we are… for such a time as this? History repeats itself, and our story is much like the cattlemen and the sheepherders regarding use of land. Can we agree to work out our differences with a fork? Let the farmers decide what to plant and how to grow it. Let consumer behavior determine the outcome with the choices they make in the market place.

GMO (genetically modified organism) companies can see the writing on the wall and will respond appropriately. If they are indeed as bad as what is portrayed, they will have a window of opportunity to pull those products and make adjustments. When they have been weighed on the scales, and if they are found wanting, then their days are numbered. It is too much of a global issue for them to ignore.

What if GMOs are found to have redeeming qualities after all? And that the negative perception was other factors that contributed to the hysteria? If we start to transition our islands into an agriculturally viable economic society, then when the verdict comes in regarding GMOs, we can make the necessary changes, if needed, without the disastrous consequences of shutting everything down immediately. I fear if the land is left fallow, the pesticides and fertilizers will blow into the ocean and the populated areas. The negative environmental impact from that could be far worse. I have witnessed this myself with the closure of the Pioneer Mill in Lahaina.

We must all act prudently, judiciously and respectfully to be a successful society. The government has an opportunity to de-regulate, update existing regulations and adopt new policies in the anticipation of the agriculture revolution. Obsolete and non-essential bureaucracies are weeded out, and as a result, old polices go and the new come in. The agriculture industry creates need for accountability, so government employees’ responsibilities may change, but jobs are secured. Think of it as a crop rotation for healthy growth.

As we transition into an agrarian society, the government will make transitions and may consider beneficial prison programs and educational opportunities, and address poverty and the homeless population. Agriculture will be beneficial in many areas of life that we may not have considered. We can be an example for the world to emulate.

Let’s propagate seeds of patience and kindness. A better way to deal with the issues at hand is by advocating for farming and ranching. Let nature take its course. We are making history… can we agree to do it with ALOHA?



Time to change direction on tax extenders

While the dust is still settling from the mid-term elections – and the pundits are trying to figure out what it all means – the American people have made their collective voices heard and delivered a message that they do not like the country’s direction. Exit polling data from Election Day showed clear majorities against growing corporate influence on the political process and in favor of greater corporate accountability. The message is clear: inversions must stop, corporate tax avoidance must end, and special corporate loopholes must close.

The question that remains, of course, is whether Congress will hear that message. As the post-election lame duck session gets underway, Congress has an excellent opportunity to show that they’ve heard the American people loud and clear by acting on tax extenders. There are two extenders that exemplify the very worst of corporate tax avoidance and should be allowed to fade away.

The first is the Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) Look-Through rule. The CFC Look-Through rule allows multinationals to create “stateless income,” moving income to low or no-tax countries and avoid U.S. tax in the process. They do this by setting up a network of subsidiaries, one of which own copyrights and patents used by the other foreign subsidiary. The fees paid from the one subsidiary to another create vast profits for these entities and avoid any tax anywhere. Google has heavily utilized the CFC Look-Through rule in its tax avoidance efforts.

The second is the Active Financing Exception. This is an exception to the rule that passive income (interest, dividends, royalties, etc.) is treated as taxable income even if it is not brought back to the United States. Instead, if the income is used for financial operation – like financing the sale of jet engines – there is no U.S. tax, so long as the profits from the deal stay offshore.

However, what constitutes financial operations is so broadly defined as to enable virtually any multinational to take advantage of it. The Active Financing Exception explains why G.E., through its G.E. Capital subsidiary, has paid a negative tax rate on billions in profits over the last five years.

Public sentiment is overwhelmingly against these and other tax avoidance tricks that continue to benefit corporations that are already seeing record high profits. Those who doubt this need to look no further than Walgreens, which halted a planned inversion of its own in the face of massive public outrage.

These policies hurt all of us. When multinational corporations are able to avoid taxes, it leaves individual citizens and domestic corporations picking up the tab in the form of higher taxes and more public debt. And it further places small businesses, which pay a higher tax rate with none of the loopholes, at a competitive disadvantage.

The message to Congress is clear: it is time for corporations to quit cashing out without chipping in.



Send gifts to needy children

This year, Maui residents collected 2,500 gift-filled shoeboxes now on their way to children in need around the world.

These boxes will contribute to the global collection goal of 10,000,000 in 2014.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 113 million children in over 150 countries and territories.

It’s not too late for Maui residents to participate. At samaritanspurse.org, it’s easy to pack a shoebox gift online and bring joy to kids in the poorest and hardest-to-reach countries around the globe.

EMILY RIOS, Operation Christmas Child