Letters for Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Visitors pay; make rich pay fair share

I’m lucky and thank God that I live retired in Wisconsin and can visit my family here in Kaua‘i. I could not live retired here in Kaua‘i. I pay three times what I pay in Wisconsin for my expenses here, but that’s the cost of vacationing where almost everything but nature is imported.

I take exception to the letter-writer from Kekaha who wants us visitors to pay to get onto the island. The costs of supporting your parks, roads, hospitals, schools, etc. should be borne by the taxpayers, especially your wealthy million/billionaires who often end up paying no taxes. They should be financing a modern, high-speed transit system around the entire island, instead of the piecemeal widening of the highways like the county is doing on Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a.

I agree with the writer of the letter that people are becoming another invasive species on your beautiful island. But the answer is not to “cut off your nose (tourists) to spite your face (economy).” The answer, I think, is to distribute the wealth more fairly, as was done before Reagan and Newt Gingrich. It isn’t Communism to tax fairly; it’s good economic policy.

Margaret Kolbek, Kapa‘a visitor

Medal count isn’t only Olympic story


The ancient Olympics were winner-take-all events. No silver or bronze medals there. Winning was indeed the only thing; those who did not merit only dishonorable mention.

Sad to say, it seems that this has not changed much over the centuries. Olympic news still trends toward those who end up standing on the podium, especially those who stand on its top tier. How frequently a newscast or article contains the phrase, “…competed but did not medal?”

How often too are Olympic news items nothing more than national medal tallies or, worse yet, tales of failed drug tests, petty disputes about uniforms and such like?

Now and then a story about an great individual like the young Mexican competitor in the men’s figure skating pops up. Why does this happen only now and then? Why cannot the media focus more on the athletes’ accomplishments and less on their shortcomings, including their failure to win medals? After all, simply participating in the Olympics is a tremendous achievement. Anyone who reaches that high level, and those who help her/him reach it, deserves praise, maybe even a medal!

Some years ago, I happened to be in Berlin for its annual marathon. The morning was cold, gloomy and occasionally punctuated by rain. Nevertheless, thousands of people lined the streets, standing for hours in the chill, to applaud the runners. As each one lumbered by, spectators yelled encouragement in a variety of languages. Everyone cheered for everyone; the only noticeable difference in enthusiasm and volume seemed to be that athletes who looked most fatigued and/or discouraged attracted the loudest hollers.

Of course, this sort of thing happens so often at sporting events that it is not news. That is too bad. Why does the media so seldom take a lesson from an audience that cheers for winners and losers, medalists and non-medalists alike? Our world would do well to pay more attention to those who reach past boundaries of nationality or ethnicity to support the efforts of all who strive to do their best, not only in sports but in all worthy endeavors.

Thank you TGI for doing your part to feature good people doing good things for our community and the world. There is much good going on; it deserves to be recognized and applauded.

H. M. Wyeth, Anahola

  1. kauaiboy February 16, 2022 10:03 am Reply

    Ms. Kolbeck:

    The costs of supporting our infrastructure DOES fall primarily to the taxpayers. Some taxes, in the form of General Excise taxes and Transient Accommodation taxes are paid by visitors, but visitors use a greater percentage of roads and parks that the taxes they do pay reflects. Especially those who come to stay with friends or family…

    Those who live in very expensive houses generally pay far more property taxes than the average resident. If they claim their primary residence elsewhere, they cannot be charged Hawaii income taxes. Take your tax-evader concerns to the federal government.

    It is a nice pipedream that Zuckerberg and his ilk will finance a modern, high-speed transit system around the entire island, but no rail system will connect all the far-flung destinations. The locals love their Toyota Tacomas and Four Runners, and you will not find many waiting at a railway station to go to the grocery store.

    Incidentally, it is not the County who is widening the highway in Kapaa. The State controls the main arteries on the island, and is responsible for this type of work. But please do not ask the taxpayers to pay for rail on Kauai. We have learned from the fiasco on Oahu that rail can become a major headache and expense.

    So just be happy that you live in the land of cheese and that things are less pricey there. But three times less pricey? I think all that cheese might be clogging the arteries in your brain. Use your good fortune to be in a place where you may be able to save money to travel, and expect to pay a bit more when you come to Kauai.

    Oh, and if your relations are putting you up when you come, count your blessings. You are escaping the general excise taxes and transient accommodation taxes (totalling almost 18%) that most visitors have to pay on top of their accommodation costs.

    Mahalo nui, e komo mai,

    Kauai Boy

    1. Doug March 23, 2022 9:24 am Reply

      Great response. Here is another example, Lydgate Beach Park. This is a County park totally supported by local property taxpayers, yet it is crammed with tourists which makes it hard for locals to use. Tourists use it for free. The non-resident parking fees proposed for it will help maintain it (if they pass) but there also needs to be a user fee for non-residents too which will help support the park. Hopefully it will also help control the mass of tourists that clog the beach and make it hard for local property tax payers to get in a good swim. Enough is enough.

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