Letters for Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Please stop hassling the tourists!

The tourists are as afraid of this virus as you are and they have done nothing wrong except to bring jobs and prosperity to Kaua‘i. Without tourists, most residents couldn’t afford to live on Kaua‘i. Anyway, most of the mainland tourists aren’t going to risk their lives by getting on an airplane these days and most lodging on the island is running on empty. We just need to show some aloha to whoever is on island.

I have owned a small vacation rental home on Kaua‘i since before most of the protestors were born. Every year, that one house brings in about $25,000 in property, excise, and transient taxes, pays the maid service about $8,000, pays the gardeners about $4000, helps pay for the salaries of everyone at Home Depot, Costco, Big Save, the water department, KIUC, Spectrum and many more. If it were up to the hotels and their high

prices, many of those tourists couldn’t come to Kaua‘i to help support you.

I have a maid cleaning the house for the last eight years who depends on the income from cleaning our house and others. She has a very sick teenage boy, an out-of-work daughter, and a granddaughter to support. Every tourist family that doesn’t come to Kaua‘i, every vacancy makes it harder for her to feed everyone. You all probably know someone financially affected by this virus also.

So let’s show some aloha so Kaua‘i does not get a black eye that keeps the tourists away once this is over. Don’t be so selfish about Kaua‘i.

Smedley Aberdeen, Koloa

Now is the time to work on food security

“People need to calm down!” my daughter texted, “God always has a plan!” Initiating better stewardship of natural resources could be one of them.

Coronavirus safety measures forewarn catastrophic possibilities in Hawai‘i. Worldwide travel poses a greater risk of exposure to the islands. What if Hawai‘i had to be quarantined?

Importing 90% of its food, Hawai‘i is especially vulnerable. People have valid concerns. Food and water are essential for survival. Hawai‘i has extremely limited supplies. Any number of reasons could restrict shipments or travel to the islands. Depending primarily on tourism could prove fatal economically.

Diversified agriculture would provide jobs and food security. With ranching and farming, each island could ensure adequate provisions.

Natural disasters disrupt supply routes. Lahaina is particularly vulnerable. Considered the “golden goose”, Maui’s Westside boasts one of the largest visitor counts in Hawai‘i. Densely populated residential and proximity to school facilities, growing food in Lahaina makes sense.

Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate’s 1200 acres in Lahaina could be a precious resource for food security. Besides farming, the area is an ideal location for food processing and distribution.

Now is a good time to work on strategic plans for an agriculture industry throughout the islands. Landholders and government officials need to consider highest and best use of natural resources for public safety. Preparing for the future, get kids advocating for their community’s food security.

With COVID-19 government shutdowns, time and energy could be expended toward solutions for a safer Hawai‘i. Hopefully something good will come from the coronavirus scare.

Michele Lincoln, Lahaina

It may be time to fish for stocks

The S&P 500 (with its index fund “SPY”) is a broad measure of our stock market. SPY closed at $240 on March 16th, a 29% drop from the high of $339 on Feb. 19th. Even after this huge drop, the market is still 12% ahead of the day before Pres. Trump was elected ($214 on 11/8/16).

No one knows where the bottom will be. However, for those with cash to invest who are also able to take a chance and invest long term, buying anywhere near the bottom is likely a good decision.

As of March 16th, the PE ratio of the S&P 500 is 18. This means a return of 5.5%. Normally earnings grow about 2% per year over the long term, implying the long-term return would be around 7.5%. This would need to be adjusted for any long-term effects of Covid-19.

Compare this to the 10-year U.S. Treasury Note, which currently yields 0.73%. Investors are parking their money in Treasuries, waiting for the stock market to stabilize. It seems only a matter of time before more investors will prefer a 7% stock market return over a 1% Treasury return. When that happens, the stock market will move higher than it is now.

In late 2018, the SPY dropped by 20%. There seemed to be no significant reason for it. The market just got spooked. It quickly recovered in early 2019. In 2008, the real estate bubble burst, leading to a major economic collapse. From peak to bottom, the SPY dropped 57%.

It seems likely that the Covid-19 stock market drop will be somewhere in between those other two drops. Our economy has been very strong, with millions of jobs available that had not been filled. People are now isolating themselves. But, once that stops, it may be back to normal.

The midpoint between these other two drops would be a 38% drop. You may want to aim for a little higher price than you think the bottom will be. It is hard to hit the exact bottom. With the current drop of 29% as of March 16th, we may be near the bottom.

There is no way to predict the future, so you will need to do your own analysis. I do not want to tell anyone what to do, but some of these numbers may be helpful. If you do invest, you may consider buying something like SPY or VTI, where you get the whole stock market in one stock.

Good luck fishing!

Mark Beeksma, Koloa

  1. Michael W. Kiyabu March 24, 2020 7:58 am Reply

    During this pandemic, all these rental vehicles that are parked /stored there, I really hope that there is some sort of security to guard against any type of vandalism/theft.

  2. no March 24, 2020 5:45 pm Reply

    smedly only cares about her airbnb dollars. No one should be flying here unless they are coming home, PERIOD!

    1. Michael Mann March 24, 2020 9:07 pm Reply

      Why was that person “coming home” flying anywhere during a pandemic? Are they not putting the island just as much at risk as you want to believe the tourist is? In fact, is it not possible that they are putting the island MORE at risk, since a tourist is not going to be interacting with as many people. People coming back home have the potential to infect their family, their friends, and others associated with their daily lives HERE.

      No, anybody travelling anywhere during something like this is being irresponsible–NOT JUST TOURISTS. and unless you are going to go beat down the door of your neighbor who just got back from Vegas, or California, or New York, or the Philippines, or wherever, you need to LAY OFF THE TOURISTS!

    2. Irene Stanek March 26, 2020 8:35 am Reply

      Smedley Aberdeen. Completely agree with you. If people come from out of town of course they should obey all rules in place but they are NEEDED for so many others to survive. People tend to forget all the residents whose income depends on servicing these visitors. The person who responded so negatively to your comment is not understanding the picture. It’s not just about you …. you are concerned for those who depend on you for work and THEIR life! Time to look outside the box and think of others. Thank you for speaking up.

  3. Michael Mann March 24, 2020 9:12 pm Reply

    Does anybody else find it interesting that in the middle of a global pandemic, all Mark Beeksma seems to care about is personal wealth?

    It amazes me how people telegraph what is most important to them without ANY thought as to how it looks. And if I recall, Mr. Beeksma is supposed to be a Christian. Did Christ have nothing to say on the topic of wealth? Is wondering about when to snatch up stocks the answer to the question “What would Jesus do?” in regards to this situation?

    Apparently so.

    1. Mark Beeksma March 26, 2020 6:45 pm Reply

      I realize that you are just looking for an excuse to criticize me and my faith, but I will make a few comments, anyway.
      Those who sell stocks after stocks have already dropped significantly are hurting themselves buy selling too low. They are also hurting the country by causing the crash to get worse. Other people may have bought stocks before and are now unemployed and they need a viable stock market to carry them through this crisis.
      For those who still have extra cash to invest, they might be able to make a wise decision that will not only benefit themselves long term, but also help their neighbors by helping to stop the panic. Stopping the panic is a good thing that will help a lot of people who need help and cannot afford the panic to get any worse.
      I think Jesus is in favor of people wisely helping to stop the panic and thereby helping other people.
      This letter has no benefit to me personally. People like Warren Buffett know how to come in and stop the panic and make an even greater fortune. I appreciate Buffett’s help in the 2008-2009 crisis, but I would just as soon also have a few of my neighbors also make some money while they help reduce the level of panic.
      I did not realize that it is a bad thing for me to want a few of my neighbors to make a few bucks. Maybe you can explain to me why it is a sin to want to help your neighbors make a few dollars and help their country, while I expected nothing in return.
      It is my experience with Jesus and the Bible that has shown me how to feel joy when others are blessed. This is the opposite of the dark side, where people feel negative emotions like envy, when others have more than them.

  4. Rampartview March 25, 2020 8:13 am Reply

    I think that there should be rules initiated to control Hawaiians only in say San Diego. When you arrive you will be locked in your hotel room for 14 days. You can only order room service and it will be left outside your door. You will be charged $5vper day if you are Hawaiian because you are close to a beach. You will not be allowed to go to that beach however. The rental car that you reserved…you will be charge $50 per day for that even though if you are Hawaiian you cannot use it. The people of your host city will also be required to tell you that you should not be there and you should go home while they laugh and take your money.

  5. Kauaidoug March 25, 2020 10:27 am Reply

    Agreed. This is not the time to be far away from your doctor or familiar medical care!

  6. Jake March 25, 2020 1:01 pm Reply

    Here, I’ll help you again with reading comprehension……this island produces nothing but surf, sand, beach, sun, and warm weather. If there are no tourists, then there is no money trickling down to everyone. So, for a recap…..no tourists, then no money. It is not that hard.

  7. LJ March 25, 2020 8:36 pm Reply

    @Smedley Aberdeen
    If premise that “Without tourism, no one could afford to live here”, you apparently haven’t been on Kauai long enough to realize that vacation rentals like YOURS are the problem. Short term rental properties are pricing families out of the land their ancestors have called home for hundreds of years, plain and simple. You’re under the assumption that you (and others with the same mentality as you) are doing this island a favor. All I see is a cancer that first took root on Oahu, then covered Maui, and now is at the terminal stage on Kauai.
    Who profits from all these tourism dollars. Billion dollar corporations like Hyatt, Hilton, Mariott, etc. At the very top. Then its airline companies and car rentals, then on down to Walmart and Coscto. NONE of that money besides employee salaries(crumbs) and property tax (more crumbs) stays here. And at the very bottom of the economic trickle are “local” vacation rental owners, most of which do not live here for more than a month a year, taking that rent money offshore. Ask your Gardeners, and your Maid, how much they pay for rent each month…If it we’rent for rental owners like you maybe they wouldnt need to pay $2000/month for a studio. Oh and heaven forbid they ever get a mortgage and the house next door sells to someone like you, because they’ll also be paying 25k in property tax.
    Do all of us residents a favor and stop doing us favors.

    1. yessah March 26, 2020 4:26 pm Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.