Letters to the Editor
Being called 'liberal elite' ironic, given my heritage
Mr. Michael Parry's response to Bob Dye's "puff piece" about me made me muse over the nature of labels and how mechanisms that attempt to simplify the truth end up obscuring it (Advertiser, Aug. 16). The irony of being called the "poster-child for the liberal elite" did not escape me as I reflected upon my life and heritage.
My mother's father was a successful Japanese businessman in Honolulu who lost his assets while interned in a relocation camp during World War II. My mother, who was raised in Honolulu, attended medical school in Japan, where she married. While pregnant with me, she divorced my father and returned to Honolulu to begin her career as a physician.
My mother was ahead of her time there weren't many women doctors in Hawai'i in the 1950s. But she overcame many obstacles to obtain a medical license in Hawai'i and forever was grateful for the help she received from Democratic leaders during her struggle.
Working as a physician at Leeward Clinic, my mother treated plantation workers and their families. Because she couldn't afford a babysitter, she often brought me to work with her. We lived with my stepfather, an insurance salesman, in a rented two-bedroom cottage on Emerson Street near Punchbowl.
Had my mother not spent the bulk of her earnings for my education at Our Redeemer, Punahou, University of California-Berkeley and Hastings College of Law, we might have been able to live in a neighborhood like Kahala or Tantalus, where her fellow physicians had homes. But my education was her top priority, and it was a privilege to attend these fine institutions of learning. But the privilege was not handed to me as a member of some elite group. It was earned by my mother's blood, sweat and tears.
One of the values she ingrained in me as a child was the importance of involvement in the political process. I have fond childhood memories of political rallies and fund-raisers. During the last decade of her life, my mother suffered from congestive heart failure. But that did not stop her from giving her time and energy to campaign, and even sign-wave, for Democratic candidates. She never forgot that the Democratic Party helped make it possible for her to earn a living in Hawai'i. I, too, will never forget it.
My mother died a week before I was confirmed as the head of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations under Gov. Ben Cayetano. I think she knew I would make it, but I wish she had lived to see me confirmed as a department head in a Democratic administration. Now, as Chairwoman of Hawai'i's Democratic Party, I have an opportunity to do something for the political party my mother believed in with all her heart. I also have the opportunity to make sure that all she sacrificed to send me to those "elite" schools was not in vain.
This is my heritage. If it defines me as being one of the "liberal elite," then that is the label I will wear with pride.
Lorraine H. Akiba
Hawai'i Democratic Party Chairwoman
Assertions full of propaganda, bad data
Jeannette McDougal's column ("Real buzz on medical marijuana: toxic, bad" Aug. 20) is yet another litany of ill-informed assertions on the supposed dangers of medical marijuana based on propaganda and misinformation. To address some of her comments:
Patients aren't seeking the "high" that THC provides, but rather relief from pain, nausea and spasticity, as described in a 1999 Institute of Medicine report commissioned by the national drug czar. Most patients prefer the smoked version to the pill because relief occurs immediately, and they can stop when symptoms abate. Many researchers believe the whole form of cannabis may be more effective than an extract because of the interactions of its components.
The physician liability issue is moot for two reasons: Courts have deemed it a free-speech right to recommend pot, and it has been declared one of the "safest therapeutically active substances known to man" (in a 1988 Drug Enforcement Agency ruling). Six thousand people die from aspirin each year. No death from marijuana ever has been reported.
As for social effects: Driving under the influence of drugs remains illegal. In California, since the 1996 referendum legalizing medical marijuana, federal surveys find that kids' use of pot is lower than the national average. Secondhand smoke is easy to deal with: Go to another room or outside.
Medical marijuana is a safe and effective medicine in use for 10,000 years. To see this one must look beyond decades of propaganda as the Canadians have done.
Vice President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i
Kyoto pact would have little affect on atolls
There have been a number of articles about the unfortunate flooding of several low-lying atolls in Tuvalu and Micronesia.
Sea levels have been rising since the end of the Ice Age, when there was a land bridge across the Bering Strait and Maui, Moloka'i and Lana'i formed a single island.
The sea level in Honolulu has been rising at the world average rate of about a half millimeter per year. This rate has been steady relatively for the past century. However, the great weight of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa have been pushing the Big Island down into the Earth's crust and, as a result, the sea level in Hilo is rising at about 4 millimeters per year, and Kealakekua Bay is almost 3 feet lower in the ocean than it was during Captain Cook's visit in 1779.
Christmas Island and Bombay, India, are in areas where the Pacific and the Indian ocean floors are rising slowly and, as a result, there is no apparent change in sea level at those locations.
Norway still is rebounding from the melting heavy mass of ice that covered that country during the Ice Age and, as a result, its ports and fishing villages are rising slowly out of the North Sea.
If all of the world's industrial nations actually met the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets assigned to them under the Kyoto Protocol, by 2050 the world might be one-thirtieth of a degree cooler than it would have been if no action had been taken. This very small difference would have little or no affect on the slowly sinking atolls of Tuvalu or Micronesia.
Alan S. Lloyd
Prosperity depends on balancing the two
Regarding letters on two issues being played out in The Advertiser: Could I be the only one who noticed the similarities between arguments against teaching evolution and those doubting the reality of global warming? In each case, the "opponents" have discovered a sense of skepticism against accepted scientific discoveries, yet both times the skepticism is born from faith-based belief systems and institutions.
The motivation of creationism supporters is easily understood and respected. Their church served for centuries as arbiter, not just of right and wrong, but of fact and fiction on all matters of faith. When church doctrine conflicted with empirical knowledge, the church's political power won out. But eventually that power waned and gave way to the modern democratic state.
Today, society can teach the best-reasoned knowledge about nature based on the scientific method without dishonoring institutions of faith. However, while science and progress have triumphed in explaining human evolution, a lot is left to be desired on the subject of economics. In fact, government policy on the economy seems to result more from reliance on faith than on science.
If this were not the case, policymakers surely would be more concerned with conserving the Earth's resources than with stoking the fires of economic growth. Unfortunately, the "Flat Earth Society," which dominates the economics profession, still considers the ecological precept that the planet's resources are finite as a matter of heresy. Had the light of science shone equally upon economic policy as upon biology education, global warming would not exist as an issue to generate skepticism.
Science and reason show us that human prosperity and ecological health both depend upon balancing economy with ecology.
Organization's purpose to focus on Constitution
There is nothing so frightening than bigotry in quest of a cause. A recent letter claimed that the American Civil Liberties Union was out of bounds in trying to protect the constitutional rights of an artist saying, "The ACLU would be outraged had the nude woman been hanging on a Jewish star of David instead."
The ACLU is not a Jewish organization. The purpose of the ACLU is to look beyond outrage and focus on our Constitution, an act that some religions think is to protect them from thinking.
At times the ACLU has supported the likes of the American Nazi party, Oliver North, Republicans, Democrats, Jews and Christians.
The Constitution was written by people trying to escape from political and religious tyranny. It appears that some people think that it was written to allow them to practice this same tyranny to protect their own personal view of the world.
Hawai'i's own deserves more support than show
Derek Paiva's Aug. 23 story, "Baywatch blast," was good and balanced reporting.
It is time for Hawai'i taxpayers to insist on better disclosure than last time around. For instance, why won't Douglas Schwartz answer Paiva's two simple questions: What happened to executive producer and co-creator Greg Bonan, and what is the budget?
Since we have and are being asked again to subsidize "Baywatch," and since Bonan was the ultimate big shot last time around, don't we have the right to know? Hawai'i's general public felt that we got the old "bait and switch" with all the advance promotional work that David Hasselhoff did before he vanished.
Many of us local residents (like Liam McNamara, Hui Kang, Jimi Berlin, and myself) go about shooting sports and travel segments that positively promote Hawai'i not only in most countries of the world but also on many airline in-flight videos. Yet the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau doesn't offer to subsidize our video cameras, editing computers and videotape.
More money into a dead show, or nurture Hawai'i's dedicated own?
Choice is obvious
Most people would much prefer to see a canoe on a Hawaiian beach than a condo.