Thursday | November 23, 2017
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Your Views for November 10

Unfair competition

Years ago, the county’s Transportation Commission was warned about the probability of Uber coming to Hawaii, yet never had an agenda discussion of this new service clearly within its purview, as stipulated in Chapter 13 of the county code, which covers carriers for hire such as taxis.

There was the opportunity to get out in front of the situation and develop appropriate rules before the new drivers arrived, but now we have Uber and Lyft operating on the Big Island in increasing numbers with practically no constraints. So, as usual, we must react to a problem after it has occurred.

Taxi companies must abide by a load of regulations, fare controls, expenses and permitting requirements which the new services are not required to follow. This uneven playing field is grossly unfair to cab owners, some of whom apparently have joined Uber and Lyft as drivers while still functioning as taxis!

I could go on much longer detailing the unfairness of our present rules and authorities in this matter, but it is up to the County Council and the county administration to act swiftly to review this disparity and make necessary changes to ensure Uber and Lyft meet safety requirements and equivalency with the taxi industry or deregulate taxis to the same level as the upstarts.

As a past commissioner, I would be glad to assist in the evaluation.

Neal Herbert

Hilo

Tax myth

Paul Krugman’s column about tax cuts (Commentary, Tribune-Herald, Nov. 4) demonstrates his belief in a popular myth — the myth being that corporations actually pay taxes. To coin a phrase, “Corporations don’t pay taxes, people pay taxes.”

Businesses merely collect taxes in the form of higher prices, and they collect them from you and me, their customers. In effect, corporate taxes are really stealth value-added taxes masquerading as income taxes. This also makes them regressive taxes being peddled as progressive taxes.

Using McDonald’s as an example: If there was a $1 per burger tax imposed, what do you think would happen to the dollar menu? It would become the $2 menu overnight, or else McDonald’s would go out of business. When the $1 tax is removed, the $1 menu will return.

So when someone tells you corporations are not paying enough, they mean you are not paying enough, whether they understand that or not.

Taxes have a plethora of unintended consequences. Perhaps leaving some of the economic quackery out of the debate will make the decision-making process more rational. Or at least make the lies and demagoguery less persuasive.

Michael Mentnech

Hawaiian Paradise Park

 

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