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LETTERS for September 28 issue

By Staff | Sep 28, 2017

Students conducting recycling project

On Sept. 11, the students of King Kamehameha III Elementary School started a recycling project to benefit teachers and students impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We will be collecting plastic and cans until Oct. 2.

Last year, in a two-week period, we collected $250 worth of recyclables and donated that money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Hawaii. We are hoping to exceed that amount this time.

We are also encouraging businesses in West Maui to match our donation. Are you up for the CHALLENGE?? If you would like to donate or need more information, you can contact me at KTwitch524@aol.com.

KAREN TWITCHELL, King Kamehameha III Elementary School


Cut taxes in Hawaii to make everyone more prosperous

I recently had the honor of speaking at the Tax Foundation of Hawaii’s annual luncheon, along with Tom Yamachika, president of the foundation, and Gavin Thornton, co-executive director of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

During the panel discussion, we explored whether Hawaii’s tax code was “fair” or not.

I told a story about Confucius, who was asked by a ruler whether it was OK to keep getting richer and richer.

Confucius said to the ruler: So long as when you get richer, the poor get richer.

The real question we should be asking is: how do we make everybody more prosperous?

Hawaii’s tax code does little to help our people prosper. Our state is ranked at the bottom of many national lists in terms of its tax burden – and our economic freedom.

According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of North America report, for which the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is co-publisher of the Hawaii edition, Hawaii ranks near the bottom of all states, 46th, in economic freedom.

Hawaii also has the second highest taxes on the wealthy, with an 11 percent top marginal income tax rate.

Hawaii also hurts the poor and middle-income residents with the worst “sales” tax burden in the nation, dead last at No. 50 on the Rich States Poor States report published by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

We also tax more goods and services than any other state in the nation.

Instead of talking about fairness, we should be focusing on how to give everyone in Hawaii the opportunity to be prosperous.

Reducing taxes in Hawaii – and keeping them simple and transparent – would be a great first step toward creating more wealth for everyone in the islands.

As a happy byproduct for government, building greater personal wealth in the end generates more tax revenue.

Instead of using the tax system to take money from some people and give it to others, we should reduce taxes altogether. This would give everyone in the islands the opportunity to build more wealth and enjoy the prosperity we all desire.

E hana kakou (let’s work together)!

DR. KELI’I AKINA, President/CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii


Dealing with North Korean missiles

Small powers often have leverage well above their size and capabilities. North Korea is the example par excellence today – it has a primitive economy by all the usual standards, no reliable trade or security partners, and depends on the outside world for essentials such as fuel and food. Yet by virtue of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, Pyongyang has the ability to cause consternation among the great powers.

That needn’t be the case. Sure, six nuclear weapon tests and frequent tests of intermediate- and intercontinental-range missiles, along with threats to incinerate all enemies, can be jarring. But no one knows better than the North Korean military what use of those weapons would mean for their country: annihilation. They have been living with far more powerful U.S. and allied forces ringing their country for more than 50 years.

Self- and national preservation are foremost among the aims of North Korean leaders. Thus, they frequently bluster and issue messages of doom, and occasionally attack specific South Korean targets. But they are not so suicidal as to use weapons of mass destruction or fire a missile that would hit the U.S. or allied territory.

The real purpose of North Korea’s two recent missile tests over Japan is to cause a rupture in relations among the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea. Rather than attack Japan, which would galvanize the U.S.-Japan security treaty, these missiles provoke debate in Japan – about U.S. reliability, Japan’s constitutional limitations on taking defensive or offensive action against a threat, and choices of weapons systems (including everything from missile defense to nuclear weapons).

All these issues have implications for Japan’s relations with South Korea and China, both of which would strongly protest a major military buildup by Japan and undermine trilateral cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

What is particularly interesting from a human interest point of view about the ongoing debate on how to deal with North Korea’s missiles is that only one of the major players – namely, China – has focused on a diplomatic resolution. All the others are concerned with weapons options.

South Korea’s new president has made an about-face and is fully deploying the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system, amidst talk about significantly upgrading the destructive power of its conventional bombs. Japan is apparently considering investing more in missile defense and acquiring cruise missiles. And Washington is trumpeting U.S. weapons sales to both those countries.

Negotiating depends on “an end to the hostile policy” of the U.S., a position North Korea has held since Kim Jong-il’s time and has restated at least three times this summer. We have to ask why that view gets no attention from the Western media, and why U.S. officials consistently and wrongly assert that North Korea has no interest in negotiations.

The latest U.N. Security Council resolution on sanctions includes a call to resume the Six Party Talks on the nuclear issue. It is long past time to craft a diplomatic initiative that is sensitive to North Korea’s security concerns and will test its interest in talking.

MEL GURTOV, PeaceVoice