Transit: Make Better With What We Have
Dear Editor, April 25, 2012
I have lived in Central O`ahu my entire life. I commuted to my high school, college and the entirety of my professional career to downtown Honolulu. I experienced firsthand what it is like to spend my time on the bus and in my car frustrated with rush-hour traffic. I've witnessed the problem grow exponentially worse the past twenty years.
I've listened for two mayoral terms of how heavy rail was the solution for people like myself. When I realized the project would command $5.3 billion dollars, I did some research of my own. I read the City Director of Transportations' written statements. I looked at the City's experts take on the Environmental Impact Study. I read how the Federal Transit Administration agreed how rail would not reduce the current level of congestion and how maintaining rail would not be more energy efficient than driving your car. It's as if this project is not about relieving traffic just so something can get built by totally disregarding what we already have in place.
What I care about is the urgent need for relief from traffic congestion for my neighbors and myself. We are spending way too much of our lives in our cars. This should be of interest to everyone on the island so we can build toward a stronger economy (by building and maintaining more efficient roadways) conducive for healthy family lives.
I'm writing this because I feel there are alternatives to being saddled by an immense debt that may not reduce traffic congestion. Rushing to build displays no prudence without the alternatives being thoroughly explored. The City can expand on increasing express buses, reducing bus fare, eliminating highway bottlenecks, adding managed lanes, even enforcing the law against driving without insurance. (We should) Make use of what we currently have and improve upon it versus handcuffing ourselves to a new $5 billion project that still poses more questions than answers.
Feel free to contact me if there are any points at which you would like me to clarify.
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Tripler Suicide: Army Less Stressful than Bad Marriage
Dear Editor, April 7, 2012
I agree stress and apathy contributed to Dr Michael McCaddon's suicide, (see: Overworked Doctor Commits Suicide at Tripler) however it was not rooted in problems in the Army. He was open about his marital problems, and we sympathized with him over the pain of being apart from his children which was deeply felt.
Being a medical resident in the Army is stressful, but probably less stressful than a bad marriage.
Dr McCaddon was a funny, charismatic, and hard-working physician. He will be missed.
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Does Assisted Suicide Reduce Murder Rate?
Dear Editor: April 1, 2012
Chad Blair's Civil Beat article, "A Conversation About Aid in Dying in Hawaii," implies that legalizing physician-assisted suicide would eliminate murder-suicide in the elderly.
In Oregon, where assisted-suicide has been legal since 1997, murder suicide has not been eliminated. Indeed, murder-suicide follows the national pattern.
Moreover, according to Donna Cohen, an expert on murder-suicide, the typical case involves a depressed, controlling husband who shoots his ill wife: "The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep. If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself."
If assisted suicide were legal, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim.
Our laws against assisted suicide are in place to protect vulnerable people. To learn more about problems with legalizing assisted suicide, please see www.hawaiiagainstassistedsuicide.org.
For more in depth information, see Dominique Bourget, MD, Pierre Gagne, MD, Laurie Whitehouse, PhD,"Domestic Homicide and Homicide-Suicide: The Older Offender," Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, September 2010; Don Colburn, "Recent murder-suicides follow the national pattern," The Oregonian, November 17, 2009; and “Murder-suicides in Elderly Rise: Husbands commit most murder-suicides –without wives’ consent” at WebMD.
Janet M. Grace
Hawaii Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity
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Seek Truth in Response to Physician Assisted Suicide
Letter to the Editor, April 6, 2012
In response to the demand for Physician Assisted Suicide, I would ask that we seek Truth, address tough questions, and follow the arguments to their conclusive ends. This issue affects all levels of our society and challenges our view of charity, compassion, and empathy. The individual, his doctor, the family, and society as a whole must reach a consensus on the value of life; We must identify the proper role of individual liberty and scope of medicine within those bounds.
May we consider the following:
1. We have three possible methods of treatment: No PAS, unlimited PAS, or some threshold that meets objective criteria. Assuming the third option, who would decide what levels of pain justify the termination of life? What metric of misery proves worthy of this terminal procedure? Is this a slippery slope? How long until we – as a product of our “compassion” – recommend PAS to the mentally handicapped, elderly, and disabled? We either see life as having intrinsic value or we must assign it a value based on utility. But who, again, decides the utility of an individual? If we permit the individual to decide for himself, we accept PAS limited only by demand for the product. If we demand a threshold be crossed, we are at the mercy of elected panels, boards, doctors, or bureaucrats. Inherent in this policy is the removal of choice by a governing body.
2. Our society is built upon the framework and promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How, then, do we reconcile mercy killing? Under what pretense can we conflate a “right to die” with a love of life? Are all ethos and ideologies equal or compatible within the American system? Are we ready as a society to advertise the ultimate liberty as the option of self termination? If we are willing to accept the “right to die” as more important than the intrinsic value of life, we must then ask what else will qualify. Once life is no longer the most precious possession of a free man, we must necessarily struggle endlessly to define life’s final position.
3. As a practical matter, there is no force precluding a man from taking his own life. Those prohibited from suicidal action could just as well commit suicide by inaction – not eating or refusing medical treatment. An individual in this society may – of his own free will – take his life at any time. This argument is clearly about much, much more: It is the attempt to legitimize suicide by using medical professionals. Our culture is not alone in admiring doctors and their accomplishments, but what we recognize is their adherence to a moral code. Added to their public service is a moral component: They are bound to a love of life by the Hippocratic Oath. It is that oath that earns our reverence. A doctor may do no harm and we should – as a moral society – not ask those committed to life to violate their affirmation. This is an attempt to legitimize suicide by borrowing the esteem of a noble profession.
4. If we were to allow this termination of life, we would no doubt soon see it among our options at hospitals and clinics. How will we view those considering this option? How will we see those refusing it? Considering nearly half of us are receiving some form of public subsidy for health care, can we be assured the medical decisions made for us have our best interests in mind or will they be influenced by fiscal conservancy? Will these sick individuals be parasites? Do they have a duty to die? Should you struggle on clinging to life when a cheaper, more immediate option exists?
I present the following answers to the above mentioned questions:
It is not in the American character to value anything more precious than life itself. We may hurt and suffer, but nothing cheapens life – not lack of utility, not bleak outlook, and not our desire to end it. We cannot – if we are to remain a free society – defer life’s decisions to thresholds, metrics, and advisory boards. The value of life must remain paramount.
We are all guaranteed a death with varying degrees of misery. This is a human condition uninterrupted throughout the millennia. Rare, however, is the people who serve life above all. Our doctors have sworn an oath to love life and care for the sick. We shouldn’t ask nor should we allow them the reduction of purveying death. Killing is not treating. Along with our devaluing of life, we will suffer great moral tragedy by forgiving them their oath.
Another day is not promised to any of us and that makes life a gift with daily affirmation. May we consider this not in terms of finance. Instead, let us view this problem in terms or treating pain and loving those without the strength to love themselves. Sick people do not have a duty to die; you and I have a duty to care. We do not value people because they are able or require fewer resources; We value them because they are our brothers and because they are alive. If our aim is compassion, let us take a stand; We must measure a man’s value not in utility or physical condition, but rather in the mere existence of life. Let our love not be misguided into treating physical pain and thereby ignoring the aching soul. We may suffer – and some of us more than others – before we die, but a greater tragedy would be to convince ourselves we are more free in death than we are as lovers of life.
Janet M Grace
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Well written and thoughtful letters from young Hawaiians
Dear Editor, April 19, 2012
I wanted to write to say how impressed I have been by the very well written and thoughtful letters from young Hawaiians who oppose euthanasia/assisted suicide. These young people have thought hard, and have made their own decisions about why these activities are not helpful to sick and disabled people, despite the constant claims to the contrary by pro "death with dignity" groups.
I have a personal story in this connection. I oppose the legalization of euthanasia/ assisted suicide because had they been legal in the past, I wouldn't now be alive. I'm severely disabled, and experience constant very severe pain, which is worsening. In the past pain of various sorts got so bad I wanted to die. If euthanasia/assisted suicide had been legal then I would have requested it. I would have qualified under the "safeguards" proposed in NY. Had this happened no one would ever have known that my doctors' gloomy prognosis of life expectance was totally wrong, and that my enjoyment of life would improve in proportion to the worsening of my pain. I would have missed the best years of my life and no one would ever have known. Who gives anyone the right to deprive me of my best years on the basis of spurious "quality of life" arguments?
I am so very grateful to the young Hawaiians for supporting my right to life.
Related: Hawaii Youth Link Assisted Suicide to Teen Suicide