Letters for Thursday, June 28, 2012

• Consider the real costs of the Jones Act • Questions for the powers that be and their minions • Electric car battery causes concernsPrinceville gas woes deeper than distance

Consider the real costs of the Jones Act

I agree with Al Aragona of Kilauea regarding the labor unions behind keeping the Jones Act in place. And I thank him for commenting.    

Beyond the political ramifications, my personal concern is that the bill favors labor unions over free trade.

The 1997 study that determined there is a a real and direct cost to Hawaiian consumers of $3,000 per year per household is frightening.

I shudder to think what that number is currently, 15 years later.  

The law is waived for Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands because it would create undue hardship. Why is it OK to create a hardship here in Hawai‘i?

I don’t take issue with the areas of the law that protect seamen’s legal rights, though they probably aren’t as necessary as they were in 1920 when the law was written.  

The areas that deal with construction and operation of ships is, in my opinion, antiquated and needs to at least be revised for the good of many and not as a form of protectionism for a few.

A 2002 study by the U.S. International Trade Commission found that shipping costs would be lowered by 22 percent with a repeal of the Jones Act.

The probable current number of $1 billion a year of positive welfare for our economy would be a huge stimulus in these hard times.

It’s an election year and I intend to stir this issue up a bit.  I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Gayle Hughes

Kalaheo

Questions for the powers that be and their minions

To the powers that be and their minions, I have a few questions. Though it would be nice to have a responsive government, based on past performance I do not expect to ever receive an answer to the following:

How much is the unfunded pension and health care liability taxpayers will have to pony up for county retirees?

Why have our auto registration fees almost doubled in a year?

How much money is the county spending and why to continually mow and grind away at the grass and brush along Ko‘olau Road?

When will the government institute the toilet paper tax to pay for new sewer infrastructure?

I suggest one cent per sheet as the only fair method. Those who use more will pay more.

Michael Wells

Moloa‘a

Electric car battery causes concerns

In reading the recent articles (“Kaua’i sets pace for electric cars” and “Making Kaua’i a leader in reducing carbon”) in TGI on the use of electric cars to reduce the carbon footprint, it has raised several questions.

The use of photovoltaic (PV) systems is a large step to reducing energy dependence on oil, but it has its drawbacks and they are as follows:

1)  PV works only when the sun is shining so there is a need for a powerful back-up system that depends upon expensive lithium batteries and/or oil fired generators.

2)  The disposal of lithium batteries is a problem and a very hazardous waste.  

David Giuliano

Princeville

Princeville gas woes deeper than distance

On Tuesday, June 26, I observed the price of regular gasoline in Princeville to be $4.86 per gallon. On the same day the price of regular gasoline in Lihu‘e was about $4.56 per gallon.

So, is the 30 cents per gallon difference attributable to the cost of transportation from Lihu‘e to Princeville (about 30 miles one way) or is there some other factor?

I believe the higher Princeville price is due to another factor which is the fact that there is only one gas station in Princeville serving the whole North Shore area from Princeville to Ha‘ena and Wainiha beyond Hanalei.

This lack of competition means the gas station can get away with charging what they want.  

Further supporting my suspicion that it isn’t the cost of transportation, which is the primary reason for the higher price, is the fact that on the same day the price of a gallon of milk in Princeville was $4.99 and the price of a gallon of milk in Lihu‘e was exactly the same, $4.99!  

There doesn’t appear to be a transportation premium for a gallon of milk.

It’s a matter of the age-old saying of “Charge what the traffic will bear, and if you don’t have competition charge even more.”

Further adding insult to injury, the same day the price of gasoline at Costco was $3.88 per gallon or close to a dollar less than Princeville.

This all leads me to agree with Glen Mickens who stated in TGI on June 24 that “we find price gouging and possible collusion going on.”

Peter Nilsen

Princeville

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