Happy New Mad-As-Hell Year

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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HPD officers busted sidewalk bikers, not peddlers. Bob Jones photo

“The tax code is grossly skewed toward privilege, the cost of Medicare is unsustainable, and deficits are about to become to our public obligations what adjustable rate mortgages became to many homes.” -Former Congressman Artur (cq) Davis.

Happy New Year, but same Old Year dilemma.

Not having enough money in government should be like not having enough money at home. You have to find new money sources or make serious spending cuts.

So, either Oahu’s property tax structure that’s sievelike with exemptions gets rebuilt or we cut back garbage collection. The state taxes pensions or we stop funding the arts.

Congress ups the tax rate on individuals making more than $250,000 or we tell the Marine Corps no more Osprey aircraft.

We stop paying Social Security to anyone making more than $250,000 a year and require SS tax on all income, not just the first $110,000. We deny Medicare benefits to any making more than $500,000, or end the U.S. Postal Service.

When I write about taxes your eyes glaze over and you turn the MidWeek pages looking for Chuck Shepherd’s Weird News. That’s the way lawmakers like it. They don’t want you thinking too much. If they hide a tax as a “bottle fee” you get used to it and forget about it.

Europe hides sales taxes in the retail prices. Greece has a built-in, hidden 23 percent sales tax.

In Hawaii, we are mesmerized by our relatively low 4 percent (4.5 on Oahu) excise tax. We see other states paying much more in sales tax. Ah, but there are the key words: excise and sales. A sales tax attaches only to the consumer. Our excise tax also attaches to the business selling to a customer. If we were to switch to a sales tax, we’d need 10 percent to 12 percent to bring in the same revenue. Can you imagine the uproar if we were to go to that percent sales tax? So we hide it. You say, “Wow, I just went to Tuba City, Ariz., and paid 13.275 percent in sales tax. Lucky we live Hawaii!”

All these things can be fixed by our city, state and federal lawmakers. Alas, we’re dealing with a feckless lot.


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Speaking of which, Mr. Mayor, why are you allowing Waikiki sidewalks to become free peddler space?

My photo with this column shows HPD busting two tourists for riding bikes on the sidewalk but ignoring the guy who daily sells jewelry and caps there.

Never thought I’d say this, but I’m yearning for Frank Fasi!

We need a citizen slogan: “Mad As Hell in 2012.”


three star

Do we need even a $500,000 University of Hawaii football coach and all that subsidized travel for Mountain West visiting teams? We’re a mid-levelat-best university way out in the Pacific Ocean. Plenty of exciting intrastate basketball, baseball and volleyball competition. NCAA Division 1A Football Bowl Subdivision? Not necessary for little UH-Manoa.

The NCAA says chancellor Virginia Henshaw, not president M.R.C. Greenwood, is the ultimate football arbiter. She should tone us down before she departs this summer.


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