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LETTERS for the August 30 issue

By Staff | Aug 30, 2018

How could you do such a thing, MECO?

I have been visiting or living on Maui for 44 years, and two weeks ago I hit the worst traffic I have ever encountered.

KIHEI TO LAHAINA/KAANAPALI in three hours. Locals seem to accept this as Maui normal on occasion.

The bypass was backed up for 2-3 miles from KEAWE STREET… SO MANY cars turned down the Lahainaluna Road turnoff only to find downtown Lahaina packed like a parking lot. What’s worse is there wasn’t a policeman to be found for traffic control.

NEW POLES BEING INSTALLED, EVERYONE SAID. Well, MECO, you finished this project at night. I don’t understand why night work couldn’t have handled the entire job… and find some Maui Police for traffic control at the site.

On Day 2, some genius had a lane in the southbound side OPENED, easing the traffic mess you created on the northbound side.

The project planners should get six months off without pay for blatant stupidity.

MECO, you do deliver my electric service very well, but the new poles… wow!



Figures show true economic impact of tourism

Noted local economist Dr. Paul Brewbaker was the guest speaker at the August 2018 Hawaii Tourism Wholesalers Association (HTWA) meeting. Paul’s presentation was not a dull offering of facts and figures, and the packed room was frequently filled with laughter and applause due to his extraordinary sense of humor.

Paul was gracious enough to stay an additional hour to talk story with several engaged HTWA members. Paul also briefly discussed his perspective of the Jones Act.

A short list of the takeaways are:

Tourism in Hawaii is smaller absolutely in economic size (constant-dollar export revenue) and is smaller relatively in value-added contribution (GDP share) than in 1989, although it has generally been recovering during the early 21st century from late 20th-century compression. Therefore, since 1989, tourism in Hawaii has not been a net contributor to economic growth.

Real Hawaii tourism receipts in 2017 ($16.78 billion) were approximately $2 billion lower than in 1989 ($18.82 billion, in 2017 dollars). Meanwhile, numbers of Hawaii tourist arrivals have risen by almost 3,000,000 during the same three decades, from 6.49 million in 1989 to 9.38 million in 2017. Total tourist days (arrivals times average stay length) have risen from 60 million to 83 million. Hawaii tourism’s physical footprint has expanded, but its real economic yield has not. “More visitors, not more dollars” is the outcome.

At current rates of increase in the 2010s, real Hawaii tourism export receipts may match, by 2019, those in 1989, but 30 years will have passed without any incremental economic benefit from tourism, while the external costs of physical tourism volumes will have grown large enough to seriously erode public favor in the meantime.

For decision-makers, increasing absolute amounts of public expenditure, policy attention and an accumulation of negative externalities (congestion, natural resource degradation, cultural dilution) have slow-cooked a toxic political stew, undermining possibilities for reform. Yet in competing destinations, policy alternatives offer insights both on managing tourism’s negative side effects and on enhancing its economic benefits. Global mobility has only increased: building a wall is not an option.

Patterns of official denial and neglect have muddied the signal transmitted in tourism performance data, subverting public understanding of tourism’s nuances. For example, on Oahu – comprising approximately half of Hawaii tourism – constant-dollar export receipts have not grown for the last five years (2012-17). Yet, in Hawaii, officially, “every year is a record.”



U.S. fuels wars

Seems like every day brings a report of some new atrocity resulting from U.S. wars somewhere in the world. It’s getting to the point that it is a full-time job just to keep up on them. Doesn’t pay very well, and it’s depressing. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Don’t they?

Remember when America was the country that liberated prisoners from concentration camps, rather than putting kids separated from their parents in camps? When America stood for the idea the kids ought not to be legitimate targets in war? When wars were fought to give the kids a future – not waste them today? When America liberated the slave from the master and established liberty and justice for all?

No? Me neither; not in my lifetime. But at least there was the pretense that the big bad American military-industrial-congressional behemoth tried to advance justice. Sure, there was collateral damage because war is hell, but overall the benefits justified the errors. That was the mythos anyway.

But now kids on school buses are killed by U.S. bombs provided to our “allies” – the most trustworthy, human rights-advancing, freedom loving Saudi Arabians – in their “war” on Yemen. “Are we, at last, sir, devoid of all decency?” Seems like it to me.

I am puzzled. 9-11-01 was carried out by 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis. Maybe the Saudi government or some of its members or minions were involved. But the U.S.A. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya, and threatens Iran? Some magical sleight of hand is exercised, and Saudi Arabia is our friend. We arm them to kill kids in Yemen, one of the five poorest nations in the world (average annual income $449)?

I have nothing but questions on this. No answers. Is it heroic to bomb kids? Are these my new and improved and exceptional “heroes” – kid bombers? Do I thank the Saudis for their service? How about the U.S. military personnel who fuel their planes and provide the munitions? Or the mercenary contractors? Whom do I thank?

Do I thank the Congress that takes my tax dollars to bomb kids? Do the Congresspeople get their cut? The president, who signs the “deals” to carry it out? The courts that refuse to hear legal challenges to the apparent illegality of nondeclared wars, contrary to the language of the supreme law of the land? Whom can I thank?

Surely, someone is deserving of my thanks. After all, future terrorists have been “neutralized.” Hearts and minds have been won. I am safer, so I can go shopping at the mall. Whom do I thank for this “service?”

“Suffer not the little children to come unto me,” Jesus is reported to have said. Apparently, He liked kids. Well, these kids, hopefully, have come unto Him, though not without suffering. I really would like to know… whom do I thank?

KARY LOVE, PeaceVoice