Donate school supplies for needy children
As we should all know, the 2013-14 school year begins for most Maui County schools on or about Aug. 5, and a quiet reality is that as many as 75 percent of Maui County elementary school students - kindergarten through fifth grade - report for their first day of school with little or none of the supplies that are required for their grade level. And more surprisingly, many don't even have shoes.
Regardless of their situations at home, our children deserve to have all of the tools that they need to begin a quality education. Our teachers do what they can, and they deserve more credit than can be bestowed on them here, but our teachers cannot solve this problem by themselves. It is up to a caring community as a whole.
A net result of our efforts last year revealed the sad and heart-wrenching fact that many of the children who are eligible for the various government programs that provide free or low-cost school lunches cannot even enter the cafeteria to eat lunch, due to federal requirements that they have footwear. Many of the principals told us that they try to maintain a supply of loaner slippers so that the children can have a decent lunch, but that the loaners are rarely returned, because the child has no other footwear. This prevents other children from being able to borrow a pair of slippers so that they can go have lunch. It was explained that children then tend to take shifts and borrow one another's shoes or slippers, so they can eat. This revelation was both shocking and heartbreaking.
The Maui County Chapter of Street Bikers United Hawaii will be sponsoring the 2013 "Tools-4-Tots" school supply drive through Aug. 30. Last year, through our "ground up/hands-on" efforts, SBU raised over $6,000 and was able to deliver fully stuffed age- and gender-appropriate backpacks stuffed with supplies and "rubba" shoes to approximately 50 children on Molokai, 45 to Hana and over 300 throughout other areas of Maui, with emphasis on the homeless shelters and public housing projects.
And while our efforts this year are not as robust as our efforts of 2012 due to logistical difficulties, this is an important cause for our entire county and worthy of some measure of effort by all of us. SBU, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, will distribute the funds directly to those shelters, families and other groups associated with the school supply drive effort.
To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit our website at sbumaui .org/tools or mail a donation to SBU Maui, P.O. Box 532640, Kihei, HI 96753. A printable receipt for your tax records will be provided. Please find it in your heart and your wallets to make a tax-deductible donation for our keiki's sake today. After all, they are our future leaders and decision-makers. Together, we can provide them the tools that they need to succeed.
JAKE JACOBUS, President, Street Bikers United, Hawaii, Maui County Chapter
Hawaiian Airlines' ticket prices too high
Hawaiian Airlines' arbitrary charges for ticketing are holding the local Hawaiian population hostage. When it costs over $300 to fly roundtrip for local folks, something is wrong.
Recently, the cheapest ticket from Maui to Hilo was over $160, with other time slots costing well over $220 on the same date for the cheapest level of service. A month ago, it was $85.
Since the demise of Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian has no real competition. In its quest for expansion into more far-reaching foreign and domestic non-Hawaii markets, the cost of this is on the backs of everyone flying inter-island.
It's time to look at re-regulating the airline. Many residents, including me, are requesting our state representatives to look at taking over the free-for-all ticketing practices this airline is so cavalier in flaunting.
The questions need to be answered regarding how much of the local cost of tickets is subsidizing Hawaiian Airlines' far-reaching hunger for more revenue and ever-increasing out-of-Hawaii expansion.
We should not have to pay the burden of this monopoly's expansion, and there should be a two-tiered cost for inter-island flights - one for visitors and one for locals - as is done in many countries.
Don't hesitate to contact your state senators and representatives to let them know you back getting better priced tickets for residents.
SEAN LESTER, Maui
Government-controlled healthcare will fail
Obamacare is a hodgepodge of new regulations, requirements and penalties. The big three are the health insurances exchanges, the individual mandate, and the employer mandate. Only the last is to be delayed by one year.
The employer mandate requires that businesses with more than 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance for all employees, and that insurance must meet the new standards set forth in the new law. Businesses that do not comply must pay a financial penalty for each employee, which for large companies can run into the millions of dollars annually.
To understand the reason for this selective enforcement, we must first understand this fact: Barack Obama wants a single-payer healthcare system in the U.S. Single-payer is also the admitted goal of many Obama advocates.
Yale Professor Jacob S. Hacker nicely summed up the underlying goals of Obamacare: not to increase competition or patient choice, but to drive people out of private insurance as a stepping stone to a government-run, single-payer system.
Once we know the ultimate goal, the purpose behind the delay of the employer mandate seems clearer: to hurry the "transition time" away from employer-based health insurance and to a single-payer system.
By forcing individuals to purchase compliant healthcare plans - but not forcing employers to provide those plans - Obama is creating a swell of 10 million to 13 million workers that must enroll in health insurance but cannot obtain it from their employers. These workers thus have no choice but to use the government-controlled health insurance exchanges, or else pay a financial penalty. This will double the number of workers forced to get health insurance on the exchanges.
Importantly, the IRS has ruled that if workers have access to affordable health insurance through their employer, their dependents are not eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies on the Obamacare health insurance exchanges. Now that businesses will not be required to offer health insurance until 2015, workers and their dependents will be eligible for the subsidies.
Community organizers are already being hired around the country to sign people up for the health exchanges. There are no penalties for failing to verify eligibility, and no penalties for signing up people who cannot afford to pay the monthly insurance premiums. It is set up for disaster, much like the "liar loans" that helped topple the mortgage industry when people were not required to verify their income to qualify for a mortgage.
The transition time to single-payer may be much shorter than Obama and his supporters thought. What better way to speed a transition to the new than to wreck the old! And how clever to accomplish the goal under the cover of accommodating your opponents!
But patients continue to lose under these clever manipulations by the power elite: higher premiums, longer wait times to get into a doctor, and fewer treatment options allowed. Single-payer, government-controlled healthcare never serves patients well.
ELIZABETH LEE VLIET