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LETTERS for January 19 issue

By Staff | Jan 19, 2017

Proposed Styrofoam banunfair to businesses

The proposed ban of the sale of Styrofoam products within Maui County is unsustainable. While this seems like a complete contradiction, I would like to point out that while there is no agreed upon definition of sustainability, the three most important factors are maintaining a healthy environment, promoting economic prosperity, and ensuring social justice.

However, the proposed ban of Styrofoam takeout containers does not address all aspects of a sustainable, government-enforced initiative. As enforcing a Styrofoam ban will place all of the responsibility on local businesses, this is an unfair and easy way for government officials to make an eco-friendly change without having to do anything.

The irony of enforcing the ban is also that without proper composting and waste facilities, even the compostable and biodegradable takeout containers will not be able to properly decompose and will continue to sit in the landfill.

Unless the local government subsidizes and builds proper waste facilities, it seems completely illogical to enforce a Styrofoam ban. To truly make this island sustainable, there must be collaboration between businesses, the government and the people.

ISABELLA JORGENSEN, Seabury Hall Class of 2014


Help protect Medicare and Medicaid

Republicans have a clear agenda: to deny millions of Americans affordable, quality health care – no matter the cost.

On Jan. 9, I – along with 31 Senate Democrats – drew a line in the sand to protect Medicare and Medicaid from the Republicans’ harmful budget overhaul.

But Republicans voted to sell out seniors, working families and millions of Americans in their crusade to repeal Obamacare.

My resolve has only grown stronger. We must keep up the fight to protect Medicare and Medicaid.

Join me in our fight to protect health care for seniors and working families here in Hawaii and across the country.

Nearly one in three American families depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their health care needs. But with a newly elected majority, the GOP has made their first priority eliminating access to health care for millions of Americans, without consideration for the harm they will do.

I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Medicare and Medicaid. And with your support, we can preserve this safety net for families in Hawaii and across the country. Join me, and sign on to protect Medicare and Medicaid.



School choice matters for Hawaii families

In our country, we love to customize, whether it’s a new addition to the house or the colors and fonts surrounding our text messages. We choose everything, from our line of work to our preferred place to grab lunch (where we probably customize our lunch order). So it’s easy to understand why parents want more choices in their children’s education.

Parents understand that education options open doors for their children. Every child is unique, with distinct interests and learning styles. Moms and dads know that a school that might work for one student might not be a good fit for another. They know their child best and should be empowered to select the right school.

In many states, Hawaii included, lawmakers have taken action to provide a more diverse variety of school choices for families.

From Jan. 22-28, millions of Americans will raise awareness about the importance of school choice at an unprecedented 21,000 events – including about 80 events in Hawaii. These events are planned to coincide with National School Choice Week, the largest celebration of opportunity in education in U.S. history.

For families in the Aloha State, National School Choice Week provides a good opportunity to review the different types of education options available to their children.

Hawaiians can choose traditional public schools for their kids, and the state allows parents, with some limitations, the freedom to choose traditional public schools outside of their existing school zones. This process is called open enrollment, or public school choice.

Hawaii also allows public charter schools, which are tuition-free public schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative. Magnet schools, which focus on themes such as math, science, technology and the performing arts, are available.

In addition, the Aloha State is one of 41 states with a tuition-free online academy, allowing students to go to school entirely online.

Of course, parents in Hawaii can also pay to send their children to private schools.

Finally, parents have the freedom to educate their children in the home – and more parents are homeschooling their children than ever before.

Seventy percent of Americans support school choice, and January is the time to exercise the choices available to Hawaii families.

Parents who would like to explore their options, whether or not they’re happy with their children’s schools, should consider exploring in January. National School Choice Week is a great opportunity to visit schools, ask lots of questions of teachers and administrators, and talk with other parents to see which educational options are likely to be the best fit for their kids.

Parents who begin the school choice process in January instead of waiting until summer break will have more options available to them. Depending on which options seem best, parents may need to meet deadlines for applications or scholarships, or they may want to enroll before a school starts a waiting list.

Why is this process important? In addition to ensuring greater peace of mind, research has demonstrated that when parents actively choose the schools their children attend, or choose to educate their children in the home, high school graduation rates increase dramatically.

A student with a high school diploma will, over the course of his or her life, earn more than $250,000 more than a student who has dropped out. High school graduates are far less likely to be incarcerated, and are six times more likely to participate in community and civic affairs, than individuals without high school diplomas.

Most importantly, though: school choice matters because every child in America has potential. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and when parents are empowered to customize their children’s education, just as they choose so many other things in their day-to-day lives, great things happen for kids, and for our country.

ANDREW R. CAMPANELLA, President, National School Choice Week


Can Trump be contained?

There’s just no getting around it: the president-elect of the United States is a pathological liar. He is also a terribly insecure individual who is desperate for attention and spiteful of critics. Setbacks are humiliating to him; he will answer them with vicious counterattacks because he cannot stand losing. And when he does lose, he will proclaim victory. Thus, there is no room around him for naysayers (for they are disloyal), no room for experts (since policy isn’t his thing), and certainly no room for the truth (for, as someone said a long time ago, facts are the enemy of truth). This one-dimensional man thrives on threats, the spotlight and winning at all costs: the profile of a demagogue.

The central question before us is: how can such an egotistical, power-hungry person who has created a wall around him that defies access be upended? For in Donald Trump we have two very imposing obstacles to democratic rule: his superiority complex, and his so far successful strategy of isolation from questioners.

Trump’s character is on display in a PBS video, “President Trump,” that we should all see: www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/president-trump/. Not that we don’t already know most of the aspects of his character that are on the video. But by piecing together the views of people who have spent time with him, in some cases going back to his childhood, the video gives us a picture of an exceptionally ambitious person whose primary purpose in life is winning.

From that perspective, we can understand why he does what he does: why he admires people like himself (and like his father, for that matter), autocrats; why he can’t stand to lose and won’t take “no” for an answer; why he believes he can order individuals and giant corporations alike to do his bidding; why he thinks tweeting is equivalent to governing; why he doesn’t believe his promises are meant to be kept; why he habitually lies and rejects well-established facts that run counter to his instincts; why he is so self-congratulatory (he “knows things that other people don’t know”); why he doesn’t think he needs intelligence briefings; why he is enamored of other super-wealthy people and generals; and why he characterizes those who oppose him as “enemies.”

We have never had a national leader with such a flawed, and dangerous, character. To be sure, we are all flawed in one way or another, and we have had our share of presidents with serious character issues. But Trump is a case apart, someone so out of touch with traditional American values – compromise, equity, openness, community, justice, lawfulness, respect for difference – and so unpredictable in behavior that I tremble to think how he can possibly deal sensibly with the complicated foreign and domestic problems we face.

I do have one project I would like to see materialize right now: media representatives, mainstream and alternative, come together to issue a joint challenge to the Trump team, and Donald Trump in particular, to start communicating regularly, directly and factually with the American people on the major policy issues. “Stop lying, stop hiding, fulfill promises.”

MEL GURTOV, PeaceVoice