Letters To The Editor
January 18, 2006 - MidWeek
MidWeek regrets a crucial error in our Jan. 11 cover story on Don Kim of Sony. Contrary to what was stated, Panasonic has not closed its local sales office. Panasonic also continues to provide service and repair through a network of officially sanctioned local repair shops that have upgraded training and equipment. And Toshiba maintains a business solutions office here. Sony is thus not “the only electronics company based in Hawaii.” We apologize for the mis-characterization.
Regarding Bill O’Reilly’s recent column “Letterman and the Culture War,” I think O’Reilly really wants a “Culture War” and is looking high and low for a justification. In his televised confrontation with David Letterman, Letterman dared to say that O’Reilly was exaggerating. For his insolence O’Reilly has branded Letterman a (gasp) “secular-progressive.”
O’Reilly uses a technique popularized by President Bush in which there only two possibilities: You are either this or that. Nothing in between or outside this rigid framework is allowed. For O’Reilly, if you don’t agree with him, you must hate America.
I think the majority of us don’t fall neatly into O’Reilly’s dichotomy of “traditionalists” and “secular progressives,” and would prefer that he not try to start a war along those lines.
The Dan Rather column “Reforming ‘Pay to Play’ Politics” focused on the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal in Washington. But Hawaii has had it own version of pay-to-play corruptions ferreted out by Bob Watada and the Campaign Spending Commission. Over $1 million in fines alone were assessed for illegal activities.
But the problem isn’t just illegal contributions to politicians. It’s a system that makes office-seekers depend on private donations to fund their election campaigns. Each year corporations and other wealthy special interests pump $1.4 billion into the coffers of our elected officials in Washington and states. In return, special interests like oil and gas, chemicals and manufacturing, casinos and gambling, banks and financial service, the communications industry, among others, collect hundreds of billion a year in tax breaks, subsidies and other sweet deals.
While Hawaii may be small potatoes moneywise, “pay-to-play” means special-interest campaign donations buy land developers, the oil companies, the drug industry, the bottle industry, etc. the opportunity to shape laws in Hawaii to suit their bottom lines.
There is a solution. This year Hawaii’s legislators will again be considering a major improvement in the public funding program started in 1978 as a Constitutional Amendment. Called “Voter Owned Elections” the reformed system is based on Maine’s and Arizona’s highly successful Clean Election approach. Publicly funded campaigns allow citizens with demonstrated community support the opportunity to run for elected office and receive adequate funding to get their message out to the voters.
In Maine, 75 percent of its legislators now owe allegiance to the voters who elected them, not the special interest that funded their campaigns.
To learn more about this new Voter Owned Elections system, see http://www.voterownedhawaii.org
Ira Rohter President, Hawaii Clean Elections
The addition of political cartoonist S.Kelly has added witty commentary on national events in MidWeek - most recently his portrayal of Washington lobby-ists as street hookers. I’ve noticed that Newsweek frequently reprints his work in its weekly roundup of the best quotes and ‘toons.
Power of prayer
I can’t think of another mainstream publication that would devote a full page to a feature on “The Power Of Prayer.” God bless MidWeek for that.
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