Friday, July 23, 2021
Home Blog Page 2

Showdown of the Juggernauts

0
Photo Courtesy of George Beppu http://www.50thstatebigtimewrestling.com/1966-12-25.html

There is a huge fight looming on the horizon. I’m not just talking about Curtis “The Bull” Iaukea and Lord “Tally Ho” Blears versus Handsome Johnny Barend and the unforgettable Ripper Collins in “50th State Big Time Wresting” at the Civic Auditorium.  I’m talking about something much, much more epic. In one corner you have the State of Massachusetts and in the other corner its neighbor the State of New Hampshire.  Their arena:  the Supreme Court of the United States.

How did this fight come about?  The traditional rule, which is followed by 41 states and the District of Columbia (the remaining 9 states, such as Alaska, Florida, and Nevada, don’t have income tax), is that income that has its source in a state other than where you live (the “non-residence state”) has the right to tax only that income.  Your residence state has the right to tax you on that and any other income wherever you earn it, but it must give you a credit for tax legitimately paid to a non-residence state on income earned in that state.  Before COVID-19, folks who lived in New Hampshire were commuting to work in Massachusetts. Massachusetts applied its income tax to them as non-residents. New Hampshire is one of the 9 states without an income tax.  So, the only state income tax these folks paid was to Massachusetts.

Then, along came COVID-19. A number of these employees, perhaps as many as 100,000, started to work from home. They found, to their delight, that Massachusetts tax didn’t seem to apply anymore because they weren’t commuting to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, however, didn’t really like the idea of its tax revenue being squeezed just because people stopped commuting. So, it adopted an emergency tax rule saying that the salary of any nonresident who worked for a Massachusetts company and was teleworking because of the pandemic would still be subject to Massachusetts nonresident income tax.

“You can’t do that, it’s unconstitutional!”, New Hampshire roared, and marched to the Supreme Court to begin the epic fight.  “Yes, we can!” bellowed Massachusetts.  (If you’re interested in the details of their arguments, you can read them here.)  Most recently, the Biden administration filed its brief, arguing that it’s inappropriate for the Court to stick its nose in now.  It said that individual taxpayers who were hurt could file their own appeals and thus give the States’ courts a chance to weigh in before the Supreme Court would need to act.

The outcome of that dispute may affect us here at home. Recently, some local folks established a “Movers and Shakas” program where they gave selected Mainlanders a free trip here in return for a commitment to stay on Oahu for 30 days and try being part of the Hawaii Ohana. The program drew 90,000 applicants for 50 spots in the first cohort, and the program is preparing for a second cohort.  One thing that Movers and Shakas might not have told the winners is that their income might be considered Hawaii source, and taxable in Hawaii, because they are physically in Hawaii when they are working.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) put together a brief on this issue, calling it “Taxing Income in the New World of Teleworking.”  It observed that some have called the traditional residence state and non-residence state rules archaic and ill-equipped to deal with what our economy has become over the years.  UHERO considers this COVID-19 wrinkle a great opportunity to rethink the rules that apply to individuals who live in one state but work for an employer in another. 

Telework is here to stay.  So are taxes.  Now is a very good time for states and businesses to start thinking and talking about how the two mix.

Taxing Government Largesse

0

We’ve recently found out that the City & County of Honolulu is going to take 10,000 applications from vulnerable people and families who need help paying rent or utility bills.  So, it’s a good time to review the tax rules applicable to payments like these so recipients don’t get nasty surprises from the tax agencies.

Usually, when people receive money or something else of value and don’t have to pay it back, it’s considered “income.”  Taxes are imposed against income.  In Hawaii, we have the net income tax and general excise tax among others.  But there is an exception, not written into the statute books, for “general welfare” payments.  To qualify, a payment must (1) be made pursuant to a governmental program, (2) be for the promotion of the general welfare (that is, based on need), and (3) not represent compensation for services.

In Tax Information Release 2020-06, our Department of Taxation says that it will generally respect the federal tax treatment for purposes of our income tax.  For GET, it says that although GET normally applies to amounts received by a business that replace income, it will not enforce GET against PUA payments, forgiven loans under PPP, and EIDL grants.

Under this definition, individual applicants who receive aid from the City & County of Honolulu shouldn’t be taxable on the aid received even though those applicants’ bills are being paid for them.  But what about the landlords and utility companies, since the payments are being made from the City & County directly to them?  General welfare treatment doesn’t extend to the landlords and utility companies because they are still providing the use of realty, goods, or services and are getting paid for it.  As the Department explains: “Landlords are subject to GET on these amounts whether the payments are received from the tenants or directly from the agency that administers the relief program on behalf of the tenant.”  The same reasoning applies to income tax, federal and state.

In the legislative session that just ended, there was much debate about unemployment compensation.  The federal government, in the American Rescue Plan Act, decided to exempt up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation received in 2020. Hawaii decided not to use that exclusion, making unemployment compensation taxable.  (Actually, because the American Rescue Plan Act is a 2021 law, the Legislature wouldn’t normally even consider conforming to that provision until the 2022 legislative session, but was debating it this time because it applied to 2020 income.)

But what about the general welfare exclusion for such payments? They seem to satisfy all three criteria, namely that the payments are not for actual work, are based on need, and come from a government agency.  The problem is that there is a federal law, Internal Revenue Code section 85, that specifically says that unemployment compensation is taxable gross income.  Hawaii’s income tax law conforms to the federal law in that respect.  Laws that are black and white supersede tax agency practices and positions, or at least are supposed to.  Thus, people who received unemployment compensation will have to pay income tax on it even though the federal government will exclude some of it.

In times of need, the government gives, and sometimes it takes back as well.  We hope that this summary will be helpful for the people and companies involved.

To Kill Marxism in America We Need to Empower the States

0

There can be no doubt that Marxism is on the move in the United States. Those who have been paying attention to history understand that its introduction into our culture started at the turn of the 20th Century and has encroached into our society incrementally ever since.

When the Framers created the Republic – through the codification of the US Constitution and soon after the Bill of Rights, they understood that the documents were created to put the newly created government on notice that it had limitations and boundaries; that it was not the lord of the people, rather the people were the lords of government.

To that end, the tenets and principles that were codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – among them the rights to free speech, the practice of religion, the redress of government, the right to bear arms, the right to be secure in our persons and possessions, among the other enumerated rights, were assumed to be a omnipresent constant in our society; that we, as a people, lived those rights every second of the day.

But 232 years on, our rights are not so assumed. The federal government has overreached to a point where it is tantamount to despotic and bureaucratic, devoid of true representation of its people.

Under the Wilson administration (coincidentally the exact moment that the influence of the Frankfort School took root in America), we lost a basic protection that was built into our Republic. While the US House of Representatives was meant to be the chamber where the direct representation of the people was executed at the federal level, the US Senate was supposed to be the chamber where each of the 50 states were represented, not the people of those states directly, but the governments of those states specifically.

Continue reading…

Enjoying Your Maui Resort Condo? Now Pay Up!

0

Some taxpayers on Maui are getting a nasty surprise this year because they didn’t do anything, and their real property tax rate doubled.

What happened?  The Maui County Council passed a pair of bills, known as Bills 129 and 130.  They were introduced on November 20, 2020, passed the Council on December 4, 2020, and were signed into law the very next day by Mayor Michael Victorino.  They became Ordinance 5159 and Ordinance 5160.

They say that if you have real property in an area in which the zoning laws permit short-term rental, and that real property isn’t your home, then it doesn’t matter if you live in it, or if no one lives in it.  It will be subject to Maui real property tax as a short-term rental.

On Maui, property tax rates are very modest for people living in their own homes.  There is a three-tiered system, with rates going from $2.51 to $2.61 per $1,000 of net taxable valuation (the value of the property after any applicable exemptions are subtracted).  For people in second homes or renting their units, there is a classification called “Non-Owner-Occupied” in which the rates go from $5.45 to $6.90 per $1,000.  But for short-term rentals, the rate is a flat $11.08 per $1,000.  That rate is slightly higher than Hotel and Resort ($10.70).  The only classification with a higher rate is Time Share, at $14.40.

Thus, for a unit valued at $800,000, an owner may see the real property tax bill for the year jump from $4,360 to $8,864, an increase of more than 100%.

If there is a long-term renter actually living in the unit, the owner gets a break, but only for 2021.  The short-term rental rate will kick in for 2022 regardless.

The County explains, in a FAQ page, that this change is based upon “highest and best use” and uses allowed by zoning.  Normally in the real property tax world, the tax classification of real property depends not on the actual use that is made of it, but on the highest and best use (generally this means the most expensive) that could be made of the property under the zoning laws.  So, if I decided to build a farm in the middle of an industrial zoned area, I can expect my property to be classified as industrial, not agricultural.  The County’s website goes on to give an example of Puamana, which is a community in Lahaina, a known resort area.  “Starting this year,” the FAQ says, “properties in Puamana are classified as Short-Term Rental, even if they are not rented short term.”  This, they say, is just another example of the highest and best use principle at work.

To explain why long-term rentals are getting a temporary break, the County explains:  “In an effort to address the County’s housing shortage, the County Council has created real property tax incentives to encourage property owners to rent long term to residents.  Next year, condominium classification is being rescinded altogether and will be replaced with a long-term rental exemption program.”  So, it seems that more comprehensive property tax changes are in the works for next year.

We can’t help but wonder why these two ordinances were passed at warp speed.  The interval between bill introduction and enactment was just over two weeks.  Was adequate time allowed for public input and consideration?  Was it just a knee-jerk reaction to the Transient Accommodations Tax aid to the counties being shut off in Gov. Ige’s emergency proclamations and with the prospect, in House Bill 862, of that revenue source being permanently cut off? 

Look out, folks.  The fiscal fallout from the pandemic and the State’s response to it is starting to bite at the county level, and this is one of several responses to that.  Let’s keep our eyes peeled, for more is yet to come!

Have Bag – Will Travel

0
Cover design by FourColorDesign.net

Adventures in International Living, Self-Discovery, and a Life of Meaning 

An Inspirational Memoir by James Cameron Mielke 

Author’s Note: In this “Adventures in International Living” series, my aim is to demonstrate how anyone can experience genuine fulfillment and self-discovery through different, freer ways of living – ones that are not narrowly focused on blind ambition, resume building, or saving the world, but more so on following your heart, discovering your life’s purpose, moving with the natural flow of your energy as it connects with the universal energy. By keeping it simple, easy and not forced, this may involve “living outside of the box”, experimenting with lifestyles learned from other cultures and different ways of living – being open to other priorities in life.

Following years of pain, depression and suffering with a debilitating chronic disease, newfound health catapulted a young man into a new reality – energized and free to enjoy all that life has to offer. 

Have you ever dreamed of discovering other countries, learning multiple languages, relishing foreign cultures and living abroad like a local? For me Jim Mielke, it’s a dream come true, and continues to unfold with amazing, at times hilarious (and often precarious!) travel adventures, along with meaningful professional contributions to the health and well-being of people living in some of the poorest, most remote and under-served places in the Asia-Pacific region.  

“Have Bag – Will Travel” is the first book in the “Adventures in International Living” series. Drawing on over 45 years of personal journal entries, the series chronicles some of my experiences living and working in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as well as low-cost adventure travel to exotic destinations on every continent except Antarctica.  

Like being shot from a cannon, I am still flying high with my new-found health thanks to ileostomy surgery – at age 19 I was fitted with an external pouch, following years of pain, depression and suffering with inflammatory bowel disease. The pain and misery were gone. Almost immediately after receiving the ‘bag’, I felt strong and exhilarated and this newfound health catapulted me into a whole new energized life. For the first time in years, I was free to enjoy all that life offers and that freedom continues now, 45 years later. 

Book One covers my early years growing up in the USA, giving some of my childhood background and continuing throughout my teen years. It goes on to describe my first decade or so living overseas. Join me for an epic journey spanning nearly a decade exploring 18 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the USA, including vivid tales of unique and meaningful international work experiences. Meet the rare mix of people along the way, and learn about the steps taken to achieve these goals and aspirations. Discover the deeper meaning and potential derived from overseas cross-cultural  experiences and perspectives  all on a shoestring budget!  

Packed with pithy narratives of overseas adventures, the thrills, humor, and heartaches, some romance, a bit of sex, and stunningly beautiful natural scenes – these stories give some glimpses into an evolving insight of a young man moving through the seasons of his life.  

“Another lovely evening in the tropics – watching the moon light up the clear tropical sky – highlighting the edges of thin clouds and shimmering off tall, elegant palms. The air is warm, a slight breeze wafts through the leaves. Daily swimming and diving on the reef in the clear lagoon waters, hiking and camping in the cool, dense jungles of the island’s interior – eating bat stew on the rim of an ancient volcano, swimming in a cold, bottomless crater lake – and becoming lost in a blanketing mist, outrigger canoe trips to uninhabited islands, numerous adventures by trail bike, romance in the setting sun, and night-dipping under the shooting stars. Too many social commitments, too much fun, too damn many women and not enough sleep.” [Journal excerpt, Western Samoa, December 1985]

I first learned about overseas volunteer opportunities as a college student working summers at a YMCA  Conference and Family Retreat Center in the USA. A six-week internship with the YMCAs in Sri Lanka turned into six months, and 40 years later I am still out in the world, having lived and worked in over 20 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. I also enjoy adventure travel to exotic destinations throughout the world.  

Over the years, I have spoken to college students, members of voluntary organizations and other interested groups about world service work and other options for international experiences – just as someone spoke to me 45 years ago, when I was a summer employee at the YMCA.  Many young people are keen for an overseas experience, and are searching for direction, but for various reasons, never get there. In a world of increasing global interdependence, the lasting benefits of international travel and cross-cultural service experiences are truly priceless.  

This book is important to stoke the fires of adventure – especially among young people. The stories in this book will resonate with anyone who has desired to travel and live overseas. They will inspire and encourage those seeking something beyond their national borders, beyond the mainstream tourist destinations, superficial material lifestyles and empty career paths. The discovery early in life of the deeper meaning and potential derived from international and cross-cultural perspectives might even save 30 years of meaningless work later.  

I  earned a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Public Health and work as an international health and development consultant for various humanitarian aid agencies. I am also an internationally certified yoga and meditation teacher, and teach classical yoga and meditation as a seasonal volunteer at  YMCAs in the USA and abroad. Having  survived  these adventures, I still travel, and live in a peaceful seaside setting on  Phuket  island in southern Thailand. 

This book has been quite a work of heart, and for a limited time, it will be available for free download June 4th, 5th and 6th. I welcome comments and reviews on all platforms. Feel free to contact me on Facebook, comment on Amazon, or to email me at jim_mielke@hotmail.com.  

Make sure to check out the book! I can’t wait to hear what you think! 

A Government of (Suspended) Laws, Not Men

0

John Adams, later to become the second President of the United States, enshrined the concept of “a government of laws, not of men,” in the Massachusetts state constitution of 1780.  Those words were supposed to convey a fundamental idea:  Government should be based on clearly written laws, and not on the unpredictable will of one or even a few people.

In Hawaii, we are indeed a government of laws and not men.  We have three branches of government, as most of the States and the federal government do.  Power is divided among them.

But for over a year now, one thing has thrown off the balance in dizzying and unpredictable ways:  the pandemic.  It’s allowed our governor to invoke “emergency powers,” which are in chapter 127A, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  Emergency powers are meant to deal with a dangerous but isolated event like a tsunami, earthquake, or flood.  But our Governor and his staff have figured out a way to extend emergency powers continuously, for more than a whole year now, by daisy-chaining emergency proclamations together.  We are now on the twentieth one

Every so often, most recently in the nineteenth proclamation, the Governor publishes a list of laws that are suspended by virtue of his emergency powers.  This list has been consistently around twenty pages long.  A twenty-page list can suspend a large number of laws, especially since it takes only one sentence to freeze an entire chapter of the HRS, such as “Chapter 89, HRS, collective bargaining in public employment.”

Notable suspensions we have written about before, and which still are in effect, are the suspension of all distributions of transient accommodations tax money to the counties, the Hawaii tourism authority, and other beneficiaries of TAT earmarks; and the suspension of tax clearances as a requirement for doing business with the government.  Other notable suspensions, where the government backed off a little after pressure from us and other good government groups, were of the public procurement code and government transparency laws.

With all of these suspensions, it’s very tough to figure out which laws still apply and which don’t.  It’s then left to the bureaucrats, the government officials, to tell us that oh, yes, they are still enforcing Law A administratively, even though the proclamation has suspended the law; or that they have made an administrative decision not to enforce Law B even though it’s not in any proclamation (but certainly could be included in the next one that comes out).  The enforcement could be arbitrary; it could simply depend on what a particular bureaucrat who is making the call that day had for breakfast that morning.

Furthermore, it’s tough to understand why multiple whole chapters of the HRS can be suspended using these few sections of the HRS and with virtually zero oversight from the other branches of government.

Our Legislature had a chance to rein in some of this arbitrariness.  Both the House and the Senate passed versions of House Bill 103.  The House and Senate conferees agreed on a Conference Draft to recommend to both houses.  The Senate passed its version.  The House recommitted it in its floor vote.  That killed the bill.  Too bad, so sad.

So where does that leave us?  If we believe in the idea that government should be one of laws and not of men, as John Adams taught us all, then we had better prevent further erosion of the laws and restore the integrity of those we already have.

Maybe We Shouldn’t ‛Enjoy the Long Weekend’

0

Vice President Kamala Harris (D), was rightfully castigated for her insulting and arrogant – albeit unwitting – assault on Memorial Day when she tweeted, ‟Enjoy the long weekend” without uttering a word about those who died for our freedoms. President Biden’s tweet – ‟Stay cool this weekend” – was no better. But should we be surprised?

Of course, Memorial Day is a day reserved for reflection and the heartfelt offering of gratitude, not celebration. It is a day for reverence. It is reserved for honoring all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country; those who put on the uniform to defend and afford freedom and who never had the opportunity to take the uniform off.

Memorial Day is a day reserved for understanding the value and cost of freedom; for acknowledging and reaffirming that freedom and liberty are not free and that good men and women must and have put themselves between our citizenry, our nation, and her enemies, today, the Marxist jackals who would feast on the carcass of liberty, given the chance.

This is not a long weekend to ‟enjoy,” nor is it a casual weekend to ‟stay cool.” It is a time reserved for introspection, to examine what we have as free people because of those who gave their lives for our freedoms. It is a time to force ourselves to bear witness to the finality of what they must have felt as they lay dying on the battlefields of the world’s conflicts. It should not be easy or ‟enjoyed.” It should be heartfelt and somber; respectful and, yes, uncomfortable. We should all feel a debt even as we offer our gratitude.

Astonishingly, the political faction that spews forth never-ending rhetoric about how important ‟feelings” are and how ‟offending” someone is the greatest sin on Earth, produce ‟leaders” like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, so completely addicted to their own self-importance that they not only ignore the core meaning of Memorial Day in their public comments but also sign-on to slaughtering the morale of those who wear the uniform; those who actually stand a chance to be honorees on Memorial Day.

Today, on Memorial Day, there is a body at the Pentagon called the Countering Extremism Working Group, that is ‟vetting” our military men and women for those they deem ‟extremists.” Stunningly, there are people on this panel who worked feverishly on behalf of al Qaeda operatives held at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards and another who plotted to assassinate then-President George W. Bush.

This panel – sanctioned and supported by the President and the Vice President, uses the contrived rubric of ‟White supremacy,” and any opposition to Critical Race Theory or gender-identity politics to establish ‟extremism.”

These are the same people who ordered our uniformed men and women to Washington, DC for five months in their execution of political theater; to manipulate the perception of the American people; to paint a false picture of a threatening atmosphere in the nation’s Capitol, even as they refuse to prosecute anarchists who have caused billions in damage in our major cities, causing law-abiding citizens to live in fear for their lives.

So, why should be we surprised that the President and Vice President – along with their Marxist-sympathetic congressional leaders and their staunchly Marxist elected rank-and-file – have no concept of what Memorial Day means; of its purpose? How can we expect people who have no respect for those who sacrifice for others – but who constantly tell everyone else to sacrifice, how can we expect them to understand the intense and total sacrifice of dying for our country; of giving your life for a cause greater than self?

This Memorial Day, as during each of the Memorials Days before as well as all that will come after, I stand in reflection of the finality of the sacrifices made by each and every American soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine – and the allies who fell beside them. It is because of their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families that I live free today.

Perhaps we need to take a little bit of Memorial Day with us the next time we go into the voting booths. Honestly, we would be a better nation if we elected leaders who had reverence for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation; for our freedoms.

Truth be told, those in power now are an embarrassment and I beg that those who have fallen forgive us for being so shallow as to have elected them to power.

Biden Taps Islamofascist Activists to Vet US Military for ‛Extremism’

0

If you weren’t actively looking for this item you would think the only threat to our military from the Marxists who now control the seats of power in Washington, DC, was from the battle sphere of Critical Race Theory. But those who have been tapped to vet extremism in the US military are an array of those who have taken up ideological arms against the United States in the War on Terror.

A recent article in FrontPage Magazine by Daniel Greenfield, exposes a list of Islamofascist operatives that the Biden administration has hand-picked to vet the US Armed Forces for ‟extremists.” Osama bin Laden himself could have never imagined it would be this easy to hobble the US military.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently announced the formation of the Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG), an assortment of ‟vetters” to search out and destroy ‟extremism” in the military. The problem in the existence of this group is in its make-up. The list of CEWG partners contains a variety of Islamofascist lawyers and activists:

  • Hina Shamsi, a Pakistani citizen with permanent legal residency in America, served as the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project which fought fiercely for the Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. She also litigated on behalf of the Holy Land Foundation, whose leaders were convicted of providing material support to Hamas.
  • Faiza Patel, another Pakistani immigrant, worked for the International Criminal Tribunal and was a member of a UN Human Rights Council working group (which listed her from Pakistan, not the United States). Patel authored analysis arguing against designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. She also claims that laws against Sharia are Islamophobic.
  • Khurrum Wahid, the national co-chair and founding member of the Islamic group Emgage, is currently on the US DHS terrorist watch list. Wahid is a prominent lawyer to terrorists. His clients include an al Qaeda operative who plotted to kill President George W. Bush and Sami al-Arian who was linked to Islamic Jihad.
  • Iman Boukadou is a staff attorney for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which has a potent history of defending and excusing Islamofascist terrorism.

Why This Is Important

Every Friday as calls to prayer across the Islamofascist Middle East – and in radical mosques right here in the United States, devout Islamists chant the common refrain, ‟Death to America! Death to the Great Satan! Death to Israel! Death to the Little Satan!” This sentiment is held in the hearts of those mentioned above; those who are vetting the United States Armed Forces for ‟extremism.”

Allowing these Islamofascist anti-Americans to vet our military would have been akin to allowing the SS to adjudicate Patton’s slapping of an enlisted man during World War II. The people in Mr. Biden’s CEWG are the enemy! They are sympathetic to and symbiotic with the 19 Islamofascist terrorists who slaughtered 3000-plus Americans on September 11, 2001.

They have no place in the roles they have been installed to and, in fact, they should all be on the DHS terrorist watch list.

So, the very serious questions that demand answers are theses:

  1. Who in the Biden administration believed these choices to be of sound judgment?
  2. Who believed these people were qualified to judge our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines?
  3. What Marxist, hater of freedom chose these people to vet our military, and who authorized the list to be executed?

Whoever is responsible for the assembly of this working group is an enemy of the State. To wit, the only aspects of the federal government that need to be vetting for extremism are the Biden administration and the Marxist wing of Congress.

They are the real clear and present danger to our nation.

Teacher Payments and the “Me Too” Syndrome

0

This week, we focus on House Bill 613, another bill that has undergone radical metamorphosis while in our Legislature.

As introduced, the bill was a “short form” bill.  Its operative language was simply:  “The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended to conform to the purpose of this act.”

Subsequent drafts of the bill in the House were all variations on the theme of appropriating federal funds that Hawaii was getting for education.  The bill wanted to ensure that federal “maintenance of effort” requirements as applied to the Department of Education were complied with and were spent according to the collective bargaining agreement with those employed at the school level.  

When the bill crossed over into the Senate, “those employed at the school level” was changed to “those employed at the school level in the classroom,” namely teachers who, for the most part, are members of HSTA, the teachers’ union.  At that point HGEA, another large public worker union whose members include administrators, custodial staff, cafeteria staff, and office support workers, cried foul.  But the Ways and Means Committee let the language stand and sent the bill to a House-Senate conference.

The first Conference Draft of the bill was much more detailed.  It appropriated money for educators, staff, administrators, and others.  It funded all manner of programs, including learning loss, charter schools, facilities for safe reopening, software subscriptions and licenses, and an automated greenhouse pilot program (Kohala, Molokai, Lahainaluna, Kauai, Waialua, and Mililani high schools each received a little more than $1 million for this).

But then came the clincher, section 3(13) of the conference draft.  That language appropriated $29.7 million for the purpose of educator workforce stabilization to retain teachers, “provided that moneys appropriated shall be used for a one-time stabilization payment of $2,200 for each teacher.”  So here we had a stimulus payment of sorts, but only for teachers (i.e., HSTA) and not for staff and principals (i.e., HGEA). 

Worse, “each teacher” was vague.  A substitute who taught for only one day conceivably would get the payment under that description.  Lawmakers recognized this possibility at the last minute and rushed through a floor amendment in both houses to change the wording to “$2,200 for each full-time and half-time teacher.”  The bill went to the Governor in that form.

This may be a bill where the Governor whips out his veto pen.  Hawaii News Now reported that the Governor thought the Legislature had no authority to mandate the payments, noting that the Administration, not the Legislature, negotiates with the unions and signs collective bargaining agreements with them.  And, of course, the HGEA is still fuming over this development, calling it an outrage, and may be encouraging Gov. Ige to bring the hammer down.

The Governor now has until June 21 to decide whether he has an intent to veto a bill or line-item veto an appropriations bill.  Bills not so identified by that date will become law with or without the Governor’s signature.  Bills that make the intent-to-veto list would need to be vetoed by July 6, 2021 and could still become law if the Legislature votes to override the veto.  Finally, even if the bill does become law, the Governor can restrict, or refuse to spend, the appropriated money.

There is still much distance between the $2,200 payments and teachers’ pockets, and hard feelings are likely to be created.  Perhaps many of the issues that are now seen as problems, including the “me too” position in which HGEA finds itself, could have been worked out if there had been a bit more transparency and a bit less last-minute scrambling.

Are China & the US Government Colluding to Attack Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies?

0

Two pressures, both based on false-narrative and self-serving fear-mongering, saw cryptocurrencies dive overnight. The first in an announcement by China, a known currency manipulator, and the second by a continuous drip of smear by the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The Communist Chinese government, which is all-in on seeing the digital yuan become the world reserve currency, displacing the US dollar, announced Tuesday that it banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions. The ulterior-motive announcement also warned investors against speculative crypto trading.

This announcement led to a sell-off, led by Bitcoin tumbling (but then recovering) to below the $40,000 mark on Wednesday. Bitcoin, the most popular and successful cryptocurrency, had already been under pressure from a series of misinformed tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk.

But China isn’t the only adversary of cryptocurrencies, which educated investors understand to be a hedge against centralized government-controlled currency manipulation which leads to inflation and even hyperinflation. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned about the dangers of Bitcoin.

As the United States, financial markets stare hyper-inflation in the face – and as they explore the creation of a digital US dollar, Yellen condemned the non-government-controlled Bitcoin as a ‟highly speculative asset” and intimated she worried about potential losses investors can suffer.

Yellen has also made it clear in interviews that she believes Bitcoin is not widely used as a transaction mechanism due to its ‟inefficiency,” reiterating her view that the cryptocurrency is often used ‟to launder the profits of online drug traffickers; they’ve been a tool to finance terrorism.”

Yellen rounds out her attack advancing a blatant falsehood in warning that Bitcoin’s environmental impact uses a “staggering” amount of power.

First, to the environmental concerns, Bitcoin mining – and all of cryptocurrency mining – uses less energy and, in fact, lends itself to the application of renewable energy, infinitely more so than traditional banking and finance.

The idea that cryptocurrency mining is carbon-heavy is a disingenuous lie that has been advanced by those who want to see a decentralized financial medium – and one not controlled by the usual suspect financial tyrants – fail.

To the false argument that cryptocurrency – and again, Bitcoin is the favorite target of those spreading false rumors – is unstable, nothing could be further from the truth. The advance of this narrative preys on people who do not understand the absoluteness of blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology is centered on a growing list of records called ‟blocks” that are interconnected by utilizing cryptography. Each block contains a ‟cryptographic hash” of the previous block, a time stamp, and exchange information. Blockchain safely stores information over a shared system, where everybody can see it to audit accuracy but a system in which no alterations can be made.

The use of blockchain also would make any ‟illicit transactions,” as Ms. Yellen so often talks about, exposed making it the least preferred method of financial transfer among criminals, i.e. drug dealers, terrorists, etc. In fact, paper currency remains the financial vehicle preferred by the criminal element, and because the US dollar is the world reserve currency, it should be unsurprising that it is used in illicit transactions over half the time.

So, why would we find the US Treasury Secretary and the Communist Chinese government on the same side in attempting to destroy Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency realm? The answer is simple: They can’t control it.

While those of us who truly understand cryptocurrency and blockchain know currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to be true hedges against government-induced inflation and hyper-inflation, newby crypto investors and traditional financial market investors are polluting the environment bring their fear-trading to the crypto platforms. This is a testimony to the fact that blockchain and financial decentralization are not well understood by a majority in the traditional financial sector.

But more sinister in this story are what China and the US Treasury (read: the Biden administration) are uncoordinatedly colluding to do: kill a decentralized financial vehicle that is actively serving to lift people into wealth and financial stability.

Both China and the US, along with the rest of the Great Reset Davos financial oligarchic crowd, need to be able to control currencies. This is why world banks are racing to establish digital currencies. If they do not control the currencies and the financial transaction markets, there is no way for the Great Reset to have punitive powers over the people, setting that power grab up for failure.

So, for China, Yellen, and the World Economic Forum oligarchs, Bitcoin and the free-market, decentralized, non-governmental aligned or controlled cryptocurrencies must die.

The question that needs to be answered is this. We the free people of the world allow these tyrants to succeed?