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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Social Security system must be protected

The Social Security retirement system has protected millions of Americans from the most dire poverty in their old age. Decreasing values of current private pension systems, and the decrease in the number of Americans covered by private pensions, make Social Security just as important to all Americans today.

The Bush administration is proposing changes to Social Security that would reduce benefits to all Americans by nearly a third, whether or not they decide to participate in planned private investment options. Younger workers would lose even more under the proposed changes.

While wealthier Americans can and probably should fund their own retirements, those who are eligible for Social Security but have worked for lower wages must be protected. To abandon our elders to extreme poverty would be a sad perversion of American society. We all need to stand together against the administration and those in Congress who support these disastrous changes.

One suggestion for action is to phone or write relatives and friends who live in other states and urge them to call or write their congressional representatives — after you've contacted ours, of course.

Beppie Shapiro

Lt. Nainoa Hoe also deserves flag honor

What is the protocol for flying the flag at half-staff for service personnel who have died in the line of duty?

While the recent deaths of the 31 brave individuals in Iraq was a most heart-rending event, shouldn't the untimely tragic death of 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe have merited such an honor? Multiple or singular, each death is equally significant.

Nainoa was a Kamehameha classmate and dear close friend of my daughter, Melanie. As a result, I got to know him well. Even then, he showed signs of what direction his life was going to take, and that included military life.

As a result of Nainoa's paying the ultimate price, I can only hope that he continues to be honored appropriately and never forgotten.

Rosina Moanauli Valencia

Sen. Kennedy didn't demonstrate courage

All of those who were convinced that election day in Iraq would be the bloodiest day in their history were completely wrong. The Iraqis turned out in significant numbers to vote, then proudly and publicly showed off their ink-stained fingers as a symbol of their historic accomplishment.

As Ted Kennedy called for our troops to leave the Iraqi people to the terror they have suffered for decades, the Iraqi people calmly demonstrated their courage. And so did our troops. And so did our president.

A well-known U.S. senator, seeking the advice, opinion and prayers of his constituents in making a decision that he would have to finally make on his own, characterized individual courage by saying: "It has been written: A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures — and that is the basis for all human morality. And whatever may be the sacrifices he faces, if he follows his conscience ... each man must decide for himself the course he will follow."

That senator was none other than Ted Kennedy in his 1969 speech after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of the Chappaquiddick accident.

Thomas Sanders, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret)

Cartoonist prediction missed by wide mark

Dick Adair draws pretty good cartoons. However, his power of prognostication doesn't seem to match the quality of his artistic ability.

I refer to his Jan. 30 cartoon suggesting that Iraqi voters would have to brave shot, shell and grenades to cast their votes. How wrong he was.

I certainly hope that his ill-advised pictorial prediction was just a bad guess, and not another example of anti-war partisan political wishful thinking a la Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson.

Clifford R. Robinson
Las Vegas

Marines are making a difference in Iraq

"Most people go through life wondering if they made a difference in the world. Marines don't have that problem." — Ronald Reagan.

The 31 who died on Jan. 26 have made a difference in the world.

My Marine is in Iraq, and for 15 horrible moments, I wondered if he was one of the dead. I was lucky. I received an e-mail today from my Marine. He is proud to be part of history and hopes that the violence and loss of life does not overshadow the good they have done.

Leigh Hoggard

Chinatown may look calm — but it's not

James Gonser's article on officers back on foot patrol in Chinatown and Waikiki gives me hope that finally something is going to get done.

Although Hotel Street may look calm, it's as active as ever. The back streets of Chinatown are worse. They have become a mecca of illegal drug activities. Some coffee houses are fronts for illegal gambling houses and places where the dealers as well as addicts congregate to smoke their drugs. On the corner of Pauahi and Smith streets, where the new park is located, drug dealers wait for cars to pass by or users on foot to approach them. By the Christian Broadcasting entrance, they smoke and deal. From River Street, Pauahi and Maunakea, too.

Yes, I am so happy, and I wish the men and women of both HPD substations the best — and the new recruits. Maybe, just maybe, this will finally work.

Alyn Vasquez

Kama'aina grocers should step up to plate

Where are our kama'aina grocery chains on redeeming beverage containers? Surely they understand that the bottles and cans they have sold and profited from for decades at long last needn't be littering the highways, beaches, parks and neighborhoods. When will just one of them step up to his responsibilities and hand out the redemption money?

Must the lawmakers follow the money and mandate that if they sell it, they have to redeem it? Surely not.

After all, the container deposit money will likely be spent right there in the store where it's returned — along with a lot more dollars. And the grocers will feel good about helping preserve our fragile Hawai'i environment — after all those years of selling litter.

Customers, on your next visit, please have a word with your local store manager about his responsibility and these HI 5¢s; let him hear from you about getting your well-deserved container deposits. After all, the stores took the nickels from you at purchase, didn't they? It's only fair they should give them back.

Some kokua from the kama'aina grocers, please.

William Reese Liggett

Kaua'i could market its 'big box' image

As the Kaua'i Planning Commission considers letting Costco pave over paradise and put in a parking lot, let's not forget other "big box" companies waiting for their turn at bat. We will then have to consider Sports Authority, Sam's Club, Lowe's Home Improvement Center, Golf Galaxy, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target and other players to be named later.

All these businesses in one place are just what our visitors are looking for when they get off that airplane from a thousand cities and towns that didn't have the collaboration to develop this retail heaven.

Kaua'i could be marketed as the ultimate "big box" shopping experience. Instead of educating our visitors on Hawaiian culture, tour guides could tell the entrepreneurial story of each proliferating corporation.

Miles Lahr
Kapa'a, Kaua'i

Elderly drivers who oppose test are selfish

This is an open letter to those senior citizens who oppose more frequent testing of elderly drivers:

The only purpose of this proposed legislation is to determine whether or not a driver is capable of safely operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and to demonstrate that this is so. This, and no more.

I strongly suspect you elderly drivers who are so strenuously objecting to this legislation harbor an unadmitted fear that you might not meet these qualifications but would prefer to continue your endangerment to the lives of others.

Francis Heath

Vehicular bridge over Ala Wai a bad idea

In a recent letter, a writer discussed building a bridge over the Ala Wai Canal from University Avenue into Waikiki. I have lived in Waikiki practically all of my adult life, and to think that someone would request something as unnecessary as a vehicular bridge is utterly preposterous.

Now, if the city would build a boardwalk of sorts solely for the walking pedestrians or the health walkers and students walking to and from UH, that would be a more practical idea. Don't forget the bike riders. They should be allowed to walk their bikes over the boardwalk.

But vehicular traffic should travel the usual roads that were made for autos. A vehicle bridge built over that area would make it easier for the criminals to enter and exit Waikiki. Let 'em go around.

Kalani Kinimaka
Lahaina, Maui

Caregivers need our support

I appreciated James Gonser's Jan. 26 article "Long-term-care action urged." Long-term care is already an important problem, but will become increasingly urgent as our population ages.

The one aspect of the coming crisis in long-term care that has not gotten enough attention is the role family members play. Family members provide the vast majority of long-term care. Estimates place the value of care services provided by family members at $196 billion annually. This is in comparison to $32 billion provided in formal home care services and $83 billion at nursing homes.

Family caregivers provide over 80 percent of home care services and over 90 percent of all long-term-care services. Women provide the vast majority of these services, over 75 percent.

As a society, we need to start looking at ways to reimburse caregivers for their many hours of dedicated service to their loved ones. Economists often talk about "opportunity costs," that is, what you could be doing if you were not doing what you are doing. The opportunity costs of providing long-term care are often very high. In some cases, a care provider might have to quit a paying job to assist her or his loved one. This can lead to severe financial hardship in addition to the psychological burdens of caring for a loved one.

Alternatively, a provider might have to go from full-time to part-time to provide long-term care. This, too, can cause financial hardship.

Or a long-term-care provider might have to spend every non-working waking hour caring for her or his family member. She or he might wish to quit a job to provide full-time care, but simply be unable to afford it, hoping instead that somehow the situation will improve.

Opportunity costs are, of course, not just financial. Caring for a loved one often means the sacrifice of the caregivers' own social life. This often leads to isolation and terrible feelings of guilt. We all want to do what is best for our families, but when our perfectly normal wish for friends and social interaction conflicts with our duties to our loved ones we feel guilty when we want to go to the beach for the afternoon and cannot because of the needs of the family member at home.

Combined with the worsening shortage of professional care providers and nursing home and formal home care facilities, the burdens placed on family care providers need to be lessened if the entire care system is to avoid collapse. We need to make it possible for family members to stay at home instead of going to formal home care facilities or nursing homes if for no other reason than that there will not be enough out-of-home care facilities to accommodate the need. Most of our kupuna would prefer to stay at home, but to make that possible for as many as possible, we need to support family caregivers more effectively.

I have introduced two bills to address different aspects of the coming caregiving crisis. The first, HB248, would set up a demonstration project in Kaua'i County that would reimburse family caregivers for their services and for expenses incurred in providing care to a family member. The maximum allowable for any given year would be $1,000.

To address the shortage of professional caregivers and to improve the care given by family members, I have introduced HB1119, which would establish a long-term-care resource program initiative at Kapi'olani Community College, the flagship community college for nursing and long-term-care professionals on O'ahu. The initiative would be designed to expand the number of long-term-care workers and to improve their professional qualifications. It would also improve training and support for family caregivers through the collection, development and dissemination of resource materials for them. Finally, it would promote active aging, which would enable more of our kupuna to continue to be healthy and productive members of our society.

These are small steps considering the enormity of the problem, but something must be done now. For ourselves and for our families, we need to act now.

Rep. Marilyn B. Lee
D-38th (Mililani, Mililani Mauka)