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LETTERS for February 4 issue

By Staff | Feb 4, 2016

DOT responsive to community’s concerns

Na Kupuna O Maui-Lahaina District would like to recognize and commend Ferdinand Cajigal, Engineering Program manager for the Department of Transportation, Maui District.

We believe that his responsiveness to Na Kupuna’s safety concerns has saved lives.

When the most recent Highway 30 project got underway, kupuna heard concerns from our community about lighting of the project at night. It was dangerous – we were not able to see the bollards and directions at night.

Mr. Cajigal was more than responsive. We had light within 24 hours.



Pray for peace

It’s not rocket science. Put leaders in government that know what they’re doing and are willing to tell the truth to us taxpayers.

Today, it is dangerous times ahead of us. Waves of terror, much sorrow and a light turned on to expose evil. We might as well watch the news, since they insist on telling all they hear and think they should report.

With wars and rumors of wars heading in our news today, we are glued to our TVs and newspapers to keep up-to-date. That’s what keeps the quarterback, 15-minutes-of-famers busy. Imagine war on the streets of America, traffic gridlock, airlines closed, communication disconnected, panic everywhere with millions of people in turmoil – not a pretty picture. That’s one big reason why America takes our battles to foreign lands (expect for 9/11 in New York).

I personally pray for peace, and I hope you do, too. Wouldn’t it be awesome to love your neighbor like yourself? Can’t we all just get along? God Bless Hawaii.



Support agriculture

Agriculture provides food security and sustainable employment, which is important considering we live on remote islands. Hawaii’s ideal growing conditions provide majestic beauty only nature conveys, compelling people to visit.

Job opportunities and tax revenues suffer as a result of fallow fields. Some developers only consider “highest and best use” related to personal finances rather than revenues realized continuously if used for agriculture. “Fake Farms” are detrimental for our economy.

The amount of “country estates” may seem inconsequential, but the precedents established entail the threat of over-development and agricultural resources lost forever. Land uses will determine the direction Hawaii will progress.

“The economic impact of food import replacement is significant. Replacing just 10 percent of the food we currently import would amount to approximately $313 million. Assuming a 30 percent farm share, $94 million would be realized at the farm-gate, which would generate an economy-wide impact of an additional $188 million in sales, $47 million in earnings, $6 million in state tax revenues, and more than 2,300 jobs.” (HRS 226-55)

Now is a perfect opportunity to transition to an agrarian economical society. Billions of dollars will be generated by increasing the percentage of food we grow. It is substantial and worth the investment. People have to eat. Food is an essential commodity.

Agriculture promotes lush tropical landscapes protecting our vital visitor industry. Maui generates a substantial amount of tourism revenues for the entire state. Transitioning from sugarcane to other agricultural uses is essential to maintain and increase financial security.



Mahalo for power-washing courts

Thank you County Council Chairman Mike White for your assistance in having the Napili tennis courts power-washed (Jan. 11, 2016).

After several letters and several phone calls to the appropriate department divisions, the task was completed.

Thank you to the Lahaina division for your hard work.



This campaign season, let’s fight chronic disease

The Republican field is obsessed with rolling back Obamacare. One candidate is at least willing to discuss the real enemy: chronic disease.

“The next president,” said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, “ought to declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.”

This is a fight that all candidates – Democrats and Republicans alike – should embrace. Healthcare is very expensive, and roughly 85 percent of all healthcare spending is dedicated to treating chronic disease.

Thus far, however, the major candidates have ignored this issue.

Consider the Republican field. The candidates’ positions are virtually indistinguishable and amount to a simple catch phrase: “repeal and replace.” What that replacement would look like, though, remains shrouded in mystery.

On the Democrats’ side, the pharmaceutical industry is under scrutiny for rising healthcare costs.

Never mind the fact that prescription drugs account for just 10 percent of healthcare spending – a figure that has been steady for several decades. Or that innovative new medicines tend to lower long-term healthcare costs by keeping people healthy and out of the hospital.

In September, Hillary Clinton came forward with a plan that would reduce intellectual property protections for advanced biologic drugs, intervene in Medicare’s drug benefit, and legalize the importation of drugs from countries with price controls.

These proposals won’t stop healthcare costs from rising, but they could stifle the innovation and research we need to lick chronic diseases once and for all.

Europe has already experimented with similar policies, and the results speak for themselves. In the 1970s, Europe developed about 54 percent of all new drugs, while U.S. firms created 31 percent.

Then European countries imposed drug price caps; the United States didn’t. Today, U.S. firms develop about six of every ten new drugs created worldwide. Europe produces just a third of all new medicines.

Admittedly, European-style price controls would slow the growth of pharmaceutical spending. But nothing cuts long-term spending like a cure. The Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has made headlines this year for its high cost – $84,000 – of a course of treatment. But unlike its predecessors, Sovaldi actually cures Hepatitis C and saves the high costs of complications, including transplants.

We need similar advances in the fight against chronic diseases. And with the average new drug costing some $2.6 billion to bring to market, the investments required for that fight wouldn’t be made if America, like Europe, chooses to artificially set the price of drugs. The lion’s share of drug innovation will always come from the private sector, and no doubt drug companies are already spending heavily in these areas.

We would hope that the conversation and debate, on both sides of the aisle, be focused more on healthcare in general and chronic disease in specific. Organizations like the National Institutes of Health have a critical role to play in spurring new research in these fields. To that end, we call on the candidates to support increased funding for the NIH.

Winning the fight against chronic disease will bring spending under control. But even more importantly, it will improve the lives of millions of Americans.

LARRY HAUSNER, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease


The Dreamstate

I grew up in the first American Dream, where returning soldiers from World War II were greeted by new suburbs with cute, ranch-style homes on quiet cul-de-sacs, surrounded with green grass and white picket fences. That American Dream was filled with square deals: military service earned veterans’ benefits. A union job earned a square deal of pay and benefits. Income disparity between the rich and poor was minimal (relative to the present), as we all sacrificed in the war effort, so we all deserved fair treatment in the workforce.

Now, more than 70 years after World War II, other marginalized peoples in the U.S. have fought for their access to some version of the American Dream, from the Civil Rights movement to women’s rights, gay rights, native rights and more.

Contemporaneously, since my post-WWII childhood, the first American Dream was rolled back, replaced by a new American Dream. This second dream is the American Lottery Dream, where somehow, one can suddenly get rich through talent or luck, just as the currently wealthy were either luckily born rich or talented. This new dream undermined union power, as individual workers abandoned solidarity for the dream of individual wealth. This was in the 1980s, near the beginning of the American Lottery Dream, which I believe started during the Me Generation of the 1970s, based on the myth of class mobility.

The American Lottery Dream is literally expressed in the massive numbers of Americans that play various lotteries, along with other forms of gambling, which accounts for more than $70 billion in U.S. spending per year. The media did not play up the wealth of celebrities much in the post war era that I grew up in. Today, the wealth of celebrities (they won the Talent Lottery) and their power (e.g. Donald Trump) is constantly played up – at a high volume – in today’s mainstream and social media. It is easy to see how young people growing up today may dream of becoming a “rich celebrity” against the nightmare of becoming a “poor nobody.” When their personal American Lottery Dream fails legitimately, it is also not surprising that young people turn to the crime or drugs version.

In the context of the American Lottery Dream, Donald Trump’s popularity makes sense, but what are we to think of Bernie Sanders’ popularity? Is his social Democratic dream more like an improved original American Dream? A dream filled with the security of square deals: a union job earning decent pay and benefits, income disparity between the rich and poor becoming minimal once again, and American life becoming fairer to all diverse peoples, domestic and foreign. This mirrors the European Dream, which is also much less violent than the current American Experience. This year may be the Year of American Dream Redefinition. Stay tuned…