Support marriage equality
Hawaii is on the brink of becoming the 14th state in the nation to embrace marriage equality.
Last week, the governor called a special legislative session in order to move a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage through our state legislature.
Right now, support for the bill is up in the air. Equality advocates are already planning one of the largest lobbying and grassroots organizing programs we've seen in a long time.
So here's how you can help, right now. Help convince lawmakers that it's time to do the right thing by legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii. Call on them to pass marriage equality when the special legislative session convenes in October.
I have been a longtime supporter of marriage equality. In 1998, when I was running for reelection as Hawaii's lieutenant governor, I bucked the conventional political wisdom of the day - which was that anyone in Hawaii seeking office should support a constitutional amendment that would have, in effect, banned same-sex marriage - and became the only statewide official to oppose the amendment.
We've come a long way in the 15-plus years since that event; a majority of Americans now believe that any loving, committed couple should have the right to marry. We have a sitting president who championed marriage equality and won a second term. The people of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington all voted overwhelmingly in favor of equality. And just this summer, the Supreme Court overturned the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
That is tremendous progress.
Now it's Hawaii's turn. We shouldn't have to wait any longer for this fundamental civil right to be recognized in our state. Let's get it done.
Sign my petition to Hawaii's state legislators. Call on them to bring marriage equality to our state when the special legislative session convenes in October.
MAZIE HIRONO, U.S. Senator
Cane burning must stop
A recent letter from HC&S to The Maui News was both good news and bad. HC&S's land manager rightly states that weather patterns (decreasing trade winds and more days of vog) have impacted harvesting practices for sugarcane, and HC&S has responded by green harvesting some of their fields.
Unfortunately, the letter implies that HC&S has no intention of moving toward greater use of green harvesting practices, stating the company cannot sustain green harvesting and remain viable.
HC&S fails to mention that the move to limited green harvesting was brought about by a growing number of concerned citizens contacting the Clean Air Branch (CAB) of the state Department of Health. CAB responded to these numerous complaints by placing stricter enforcement on HC&S's burn permit, restricting burns during variable wind conditions. Citizen complaints have also resulted, for the first time ever, in CAB issuing a violation against HC&S for an incident of excessive fugitive dust resulting in poor visibility along Mokulele Highway.
Changing weather patterns and a growing population with homes and schools now located in areas once unaffected by HC&S field practices have increased adverse health impacts to our community. It only makes sense to adopt 21st century sustainable practices.
Australia's sugar industry can serve as an example. Environmental awareness came when the industry determined guidelines to provide a "best practice" benchmark for growers. These farming techniques were published in the "Code of Practice for Sustainable Cane Growing," addressing key environmental issues of minimum tillage, green harvesting and trash blanketing, fertilizer and chemical usage, irrigation and its impacts, water quality and runoff, and soil health.
One of the biggest cultural changes in Australian cane growing has been the adoption of green harvesting and trash blanketing. Now, green harvesting over 80 percent of their crop, Australia has dramatically reduced the need for cane burning and its accompanying smoke issues, with the added benefit of making harvesting schedules more flexible. Trash blanketing increases the amount of organic matter in the soil and protects it from erosion.
Australian cane growers regard best practice farming not as a cost, but as a means of improving their productivity and efficiency. Unlike HC&S, they see sustainability as a basis for ensuring long-term viability and a guarantee that future generations will continue to produce sugar - for a profit. HC&S and our elected officials should take note.
In the meantime, Maui Tomorrow encourages our community to continue to report incidents of smoke on the ground, excessive ash and fugitive dust. Go to www.cleanairforkeiki.org and enter the date, time and location of incidents; send photos if possible. And look for the Clean Air for Keiki smartphone app this month for even easier reporting.
IRENE BOWIE, Executive Director, Maui Tomorrow Foundation
If you don't like Obama Care, can you quit?
Virtually all of the legislators that brought us Medicare are dead and gone now. All of the legislators who brought us Social Security are dead and gone. This is no coincidence, for these men realized that it was politically much more popular to give away government goodies paid for by the young and unborn than to tax the very same people who were to "benefit" from their "ideas" and "programs."
Dead now, these criminal politicians have largely escaped the harsh judgment they deserve for buying votes with property that would belong to future generations. Currency depreciation ("inflation," the current political class's favorite way to rob the young for the benefit of their current constituents) has the same effect on future generations.
This is the essence of a Ponzi scheme. That is a fraudulent investment scheme that pays investors not out of profits, but out of money paid in by later investors.
If you think about it, all government programs are Ponzi schemes. It is becoming increasingly clear that the same can be said about the (Un)Affordable Care Act. I call it the UCA instead of the ACA.
UCA can't let young people out for the same reason that Social Security can't. Young workers aren't paying or saving for their own benefits, but for older, sicker people.
UCA rules force insurers to charge them more than they actually cost to help offset the higher cost of insuring older and sicker people. If the young don't sign up, premiums for everyone in the insurance pool will dramatically increase, as will the cost to the government.
People generally don't volunteer to be overcharged so that strangers can be undercharged. Hence the individual mandate and tax penalties.
Young adults are beginning to see the reality as the UCA takes shape, and understand how they wind up losing from every angle. Hence the $600 million advertising campaign and multimillion dollar Navigator program to steer people into the program as quickly as possible.
UCA promoters know how hard it is to take away an entitlement once people are trapped in it.
The idea is to entice people with subsidies, so they won't notice how outrageous the premiums are. When enough are lured away from private insurance - the "crowding out" effect shown so well with the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - private insurance will collapse. Like Medicare beneficiaries now, all Americans will be without options for major medical insurance.
The success of the UCA hinges on the successful fleecing of the young people. This is the same immoral basis for Medicare and Social Security - "programs" that are still alive because participation in these Ponzi schemes is involuntary.
With Bernie Madoff, at least people could take their lumps, having learned their lesson and moved on. They didn't have to continue to give him money after they learned what he was up to.
I am optimistic that today's young people will reject the shackles that many of their elders have embraced.
DR. G. KEITH SMITH