LETTERS for March 23 issue
Don’t give homeless beggars money
We have witnessed far too many of them ask for money because they are hungry, and follow them to learn they spent it on drugs, cigarettes or alcohol to get drunk! There is enough food for all full meals and snacks every day, each week, from several food banks on Maui! These bums, if any are truly hungry, need to get off their lazy butts on the sidewalks, benches and malls, and walk and bus to the food banks.
Instead of being lazy and begging for hours, they could better use that time collecting the hundreds of empty plastic bottles littering hundreds of Maui streets, sidewalks, highways and malls. There are so many daily that one homeless person collecting them admitted he could eat off the money paid to turn these in to recycling centers. There is also a great abundance of fallen fruit and picked fruit in East Maui and Upcountry, and during mango season in Lahaina. There is too much of it, so much of it visibly rots on the ground!
There are many dozens of help wanted signs all around Maui daily for UNSKILLED simple jobs in fast food cafes, coffee shops, as well as janitorial and dishwashing jobs in hundreds of restaurants. There are dozens of monthly openings for simple busboy jobs and weed clearing and trimming landscaping. All the beggars need to know is how to use shovels, picks, clippers and leaf blowers, which takes a kindergarten education.
Many of the homeless beggars throw their empty beer bottles and cans, hard liquor bottles, junk food wrappers and containers, cigarette packages and butts on Maui sidewalks, streets and parks. It is disgusting how such litter is only a few steps away from public trashcans! They are too lazy to walk for five seconds to dispose of their litter!
These people should be monitored with security cameras at all parks, bus stops and their known social gatherings, and forced to pay the $500 littering fines. If they can’t – because they spent most of their money on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs – they should be imprisoned, then sent to rehab. The repeat offenders should remain in jail a minimum of one year to think about their damage to our tropical Native Hawaiian environment.
Each repeat conviction should add triple more years, because they are unfit to be loose. Those who loudly curse, threaten and scream with their obvious drunken accents outside our libraries, in our parks, in public parking lots and along Restaurant Row should be arrested and taken to jail. Instead, our police usually only speak to them, warn them, and let them go free to repeat harassing people in another location.
We have also noticed that many of these bums have a very noticeable drunken alcohol odor from their speaking mouths as they order more liquor in Maui stores. The clerks need to be ALERT and deny these people more fuel to worsen their condition. Many are easy to spot because of ragged or filthy clothing or hair, and hearing their drunken accents. Do not sell them liquor! Police need to remove them nightly from various places in Lahaina.
Do not feel sorry for people who, with free will, refused to do what they were all taught in grade school by avoiding the dangers and addictions of what they daily over-consume. They chose that lifestyle; chose to reject rehab and deteriorate into conditions that make them unfit for hiring, and spend rent money on those habits. I am always nice, polite and a giver of positive advice to these people when encountered. I tell them to make positive life changes, yet I usually get yelled at, cursed, screamed and threatened in return. I warn them not to touch me, or they will get a little bit of martial arts followed by an immediate call to 911 – and I will press charges!
It should be considered that a small fraction of food beggars are truly hungry and so disabled they cannot pick up bottles for cash, or walk or bike to a food bank. Yet there is Maui Economic Opportunity transportation and plenty of care workers and charities that can get them to food banks! Some others are visibly too crazy to take care of themselves, and they do NOT belong on the streets! They belong in mental hospitals, and whoever in whatever agencies let them run free should be severely reprimanded!
What is the DOT doing in West Maui?
To all West Maui residents, and to those who commute to West Maui to work or visit, think about it. To the Maui and Hawaii Departments of Transportion: what the heck are you guys thinking (and doing)?!
You guys are spending millions of dollars to expand the Kahului Airport. Expand the rental car area – more cars! Make improvements, you say? You guys can’t even fix the highway correctly!
You guys spent $12 million on the Ukumehame revetment wall. What! The ocean STILL crashes over the wall onto the highway and creates a hazard.
You guys move the striping by the Olowalu surfing spot a few feet. Why not make and use the Kahului-bound lane as is. But make the Lahaina-bound the old cane road. Then you guys decide – this guy is NOT from Maui – to make Kahului-bound, out of Lahaina, traffic by Launiupoko the same; but getting into Lahaina, using a new bypass away from the ocean. HUH?!
Why not use the old cane road next to the monkey pod trees? Split the road, so people can turn around right there. LOOK! Open your eyes! You guys can’t even improve the highway. And what about when there are fires, accidents or flooding? They delay or shut down the highway. We are lucky so far – no major hurricane or tsunami… yet!
You guys at DOT and the state want to take away our county gas and hotel tax and combine it. For WHAT? To fix Oahu! Come on! Fix our Honoapiilani Highway first, before disaster strikes. It took only 40 years to build the Lahaina Bypass, and it’s still NOT finished.
Quit wasting our tax money. Get somebody who can think and do the right thing – not all talk, and planning, and planning, and more meetings, wasting our tax money.
I know I’ll never see any improvement in MY lifetime; I’ll be gone soon. But to the rest of you Lahaina residents, people who work and visit West Maui, let your comments be known and SAY SOMETHING!
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
U.S. running out of places to borrow
As the federal debt has gone from astounding to unbelievable to incomprehensible, a new problem has emerged: the U.S. government is actually running out of places to borrow.
The $20 trillion debt is already twice the annual revenues collected by all the world’s governments combined. Including unfunded liabilities, though, which include promised Social Security, Medicare and government pension payments that Washington will not have the money to pay, the federal government actually owes somewhere between $100 trillion and $200 trillion. The numbers are so ridiculously large that even the uncertainty in the figures exceeds the annual economic output of the entire planet.
Since 2000, the federal debt has grown at an average annual rate of 8.2 percent, doubling from $10 trillion to $20 trillion in the past eight years alone. Who loaned the government this money? Four groups: foreigners, Americans, the Federal Reserve, and government trust funds. But over the past decade, three of these groups have cut back significantly on their lending.
Foreign investors have slowed the growth in their lending from over 20 percent per year in the early 2000s to less than 3 percent per year today. Excluding the Great Recession years, American investors have been cutting back on how much they lend the federal government by an average of 2 percent each year.
Social Security, though, presents an even bigger problem. The federal government borrowed all the Social Security surpluses of the past 80 years. But starting this year, and continuing either forever or until Congress overhauls the program (which may be the same thing), Social Security will only generate deficits. Not only is the government no longer able to borrow from Social Security, it will have to start paying back what it owes – assuming the government plans on making good on its obligations.
With federal borrowing growing at more than 6 percent per year, with foreign and American investors becoming more reluctant to lend, and with the Social Security trust fund drying up, the Fed is the only game left in town. Since 2001, the Fed has increased its lending to the federal government by over 11 percent each year, on average. Expect that trend to continue.
For decades, often in word but always in deed, politicians have told voters that government debt didn’t matter. We, and many economists, disagree. Yet even if the politicians were right, the absence of available creditors would be an insurmountable problem – were it not for the Federal Reserve. But when the Federal Reserve acts as the lender of last resort, unpleasant realities follow. Because, as everyone should be keenly aware, the Fed simply prints the money it loans. A Fed loan devalues every dollar already in circulation, from those in people’s savings accounts to those in their pockets. The result is inflation, which is, in essence, a tax on frugal savers to fund a spendthrift government.
Since the end of World War II, inflation in the U.S. has averaged less than 4 percent per year. When the Fed starts printing money in earnest because the government can’t obtain loans elsewhere, inflation will rise dramatically. How far is difficult to say, but we have some recent examples of countries – Greece, Russia and Venezuela – that tried to finance runaway government spending by printing money.
For nearly a century, politicians have treated deficit spending as a magic wand. In a recession? We need jobs, so government must spend more money! In an expansion? There’s more tax revenue, so government can spend more money! Always and everywhere, politicians argued only about how much to increase spending, – never whether to increase spending. A century of this has left us with a debt so large that it dwarfs the annual economic output of the planet. And now we are coming to the point at which there will be no one left from whom to borrow. When creditors finally disappear completely, all that will remain is a reckoning.
ANTONY DAVIES & JAMES R. HARRIGAN