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LETTERS for the May 24 issue

By Staff | May 24, 2018

Crosswalks removed during bypass work

Where are pedestrians supposed to cross Keawe Street now? There are no longer any protected crosswalks crossing that street. As a result of the lanes being realigned on Honoapiilani Highway to create the no stopping, free right turn lane coming down Keawe Street, two crosswalks were wiped out. Now there are absolutely no crosswalks at all for people to cross into the Lahaina Gateway Shopping Center.

The crosswalk going from the Longs side of the Cannery Mall crossing the highway to Gateway has been removed, as well as the other crosswalk that ran along the highway crossing Keawe Street from the Starbucks, Golden Panda and Walgreens side over to Lahaina Gateway.

The one remaining highway crosswalk takes you over to the Walgreens side but leaves walkers no way of crossing from there to Gateway. The no stopping, free right turn lane combined with no marked and controlled crosswalk for a pedestrian or bike rider to use is sure to cause a deadly accident. Already bike riders and pedestrians have had close run-ins.

Someone is going to get killed just trying to cross the street, and it will be the Highway Department’s fault. Then who gets sued, the county or the state? Probably both.



Corporate tax cuts not trickling down to workers

Working families are, as usual, getting the short end of the stick from the new Trump-GOP tax law. Huge tax cuts that mostly go to the wealthy and corporations are exploding the national debt and threaten deep cuts to essential public services like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education.

Not only are the tax cuts unwise, they’re unfair. Corporations saw their tax rate slashed from 35 to 21 percent – a cut of 40 percent. Their wealthy CEOs, who are members of the top 1 percent, are getting a tax cut that averages more than $51,000 a year. The bottom three-fifths of the population, people making under $86,000 a year, will get a tax cut of about $1 a day on average.

It’s no accident. The priorities of President Trump and Congressional Republicans in crafting their tax overhaul were clear from the start: reward their wealthy political backers, and in many cases, themselves.

The biggest winners from the new tax law are often the least deserving. The pharmaceutical companies that keep jacking up prescription drug prices. Health insurance companies will make out well, too, even as they keep raising premiums on American families.

The wealthy Koch Brothers and their company could save over a billion dollars a year. So it’s not surprising they’re planning to spend up to $400 hundred million in the upcoming Congressional elections to protect their windfall. It’s a profitable political investment.

Maybe you’ve heard companies are sharing their tax cuts with workers through bonuses and pay hikes. That’s certainly what corporations would like you to think; but think again. Trickle down is not working today, and it did not work in the past.

According to a comprehensive tracking website by Americans for Tax Fairness, only 385 out of America’s 26 million businesses have provided any bonuses or wage hikes due to the Trump tax cuts. Most of those are one-time bonuses, not permanent wage increases. Just 6.3 million out of 148 million workers, or 4 percent, of American workers have gotten one-time bonuses or wage hikes from their employers tied to the tax cuts.

Already, it is estimated that 126 corporations will get $61 billion in tax breaks this year from the Trump tax law. That’s nine times more than the $6.5 billion that corporations have pledged to hand out to workers in one-time bonuses and wage hikes.

Where are most of the tax cuts going? Not surprisingly, to wealthy investors and CEOs. Companies have committed to spend 39 times more on stock buybacks, which overwhelmingly benefit the rich, than they have on employee bonuses and wages – $253 billion vs. $6.5 billion.

Far from closing loopholes for special interests, the law creates new ones. Wealthy business owners like President Trump were given extra carve-outs in the tax code – benefits regular workers can’t use.

Someone must pay the bill for all these tax giveaways to the wealthy – and that someone is you. President Trump’s proposed budget for next year cuts $1.7 trillion from health care funding, Social Security disability programs, college tuition aid and food aid, and many other services working families rely on to get by.

The system is already rigged enough against working families. Tax reform should level the playing field, not tilt it further in favor of the wealthy and well-connected.

We need to repeal the Trump-GOP tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Then we can use that money to strengthen Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other vital public investments, such as infrastructure.

Senate Democrats have a $1 trillion plan to build roads, improve water quality, unclog airports, expand broadband and attend to many other long-neglected needs. They would pay for it by rolling back some of the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations.

Last year’s rushed tax bill was principally a payoff to wealthy political donors. By repealing the tax giveaways to wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, and investing that money in American communities, we can make the system work better for working families.

FRANK CLEMENTE, Americans for Tax Fairness


Breaking the Iran Deal: The delusion of victory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has undoubtedly been sipping champagne these days in celebration of his successful effort to lobby Donald Trump over the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu’s crude interventions to change U.S. policy had been rebuffed by President Obama, but in Trump Netanyahu found a similarly single-minded partner who cannot see the long-term security problems that rejecting the nuclear deal will surely bring.

Netanyahu praised Trump’s decision by saying that “the deal actually paves Iran’s path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, and this within a few years’ time.” But he has yet to say – and cannot say – how U.S. withdrawal will change that assessment.

Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal actually may turn out to be a serious blow to the security of Israel and the entire Middle East. First, by further embittering Iran’s relations with the U.S. and Israel, Trump’s decision makes a military confrontation more likely than ever, whether or not Iran proceeds to reactivate its nuclear-weapon program. Iran might retaliate for Israeli air attacks inside Syria or for Mossad’s intelligence missions inside Iran – such as the one that seized documents on Iran’s past nuclear program and was used by Netanyahu (and Trump) to make the case for Iran’s untrustworthiness.

Netanyahu might now believe he has U.S. backing to attack an Iranian nuclear site – an objective he has sought for some time and which now, at a time when his administration is wracked by a corruption scandal, he might find timely to carry out.

Second, if Iran’s supreme leader does decide to restart a nuclear weapon program, it not only would give Washington and Tel Aviv the excuse they need to attack Iran. Saudi Arabia would also be tempted to intervene on their side – and build its own nuclear weapon in the process.

Third, we have to consider the catastrophic consequences of a U.S.-Israel-Saudi Arabia confrontation with Iran simultaneously with ongoing fighting elsewhere in the Middle East.

In short, while Trump and Netanyahu may think they have shown great courage in pushing Iran to the wall and defying Western allies, they have actually demonstrated extraordinary, even criminal, shortsightedness.

They have assumed that an Iran weakened economically and pressured externally is a welcome development. In this, they have committed two cardinal sins of strategic planning: underestimating the opponent’s will to resist, and failing to ask “what next?”

And what’s next will not be a case of unanticipated consequences.

MEL GURTOV, PeaceVoice