Letters to the Editor – 8/20/14

Harsh measures

Honolulu continues to be disgraced by its increasing homeless problem and our elected officials’ inability to deal with it. History may provide a solution.

In London during the reign of Elizabeth I (daughter of King Henry VIII), the city was likewise plagued by homeless beggars.

Parliament ordered the first of a series of “poor laws” in 1563. After extensive study, it was determined that the homeless should be divided into three categories: the deserving poor, the deserving unemployed and the undeserving poor. The new laws provided government aid to the deserving poor, but the undeserving poor were another matter.

These were what today in Honolulu we call hardcore, professional vagrants — those who are doing exactly what they want to do and have no intention of leaving. They prove to be our most serious problem, as they proved to be London’s.

Elizabeth I and her parliament at first tried gentle persuasion and compassion. It quickly became apparent this approach was not working, and that harsh methods would be needed to solve the problem. Parliament introduced the aforementioned poor laws that criminalized unrepentant vagrants — it became a crime for the able-bodied to beg or engage in offensive behavior, leading to jail time. If they persisted in their “profligate” ways, they could be and sometimes were executed.

I suspect Honolulu voters would not approve of beheading our unrepentant vagrants, but the similarity is obvious. Persuasion and compassion will not work any better in Honolulu in 2014 than it did in London in 1563. Readers can draw their own conclusions, but I am of the opinion that harsh measures will be needed here as well. Who of our elected officials will lead the way?

Robert Vogtritter
Ala Moana

Spiritual wealth

Last week’s edition of MidWeek was excellent. I enjoyed David Chang’s “How to Build Wealth the Right Way” and his “stable tables.”

Jay Sakashita’s column “Women, The Bible and Interpretations” was uplifting. His statement that reading any document, including the Bible, is “interpretation” and “time bound” was extremely intelligent and courageous.

My mother was Jewish, my father Catholic. We celebrated Christian and Jewish holidays. At age 5, in my friend’s catechism class, I was brutally persecuted. The children viciously chanted, “Dirty Jew, dirty Jew! You killed Christ and we hate you!” The nun did nothing to stop them. I do not believe that God or Jesus would ever condone hate in the name of the Bible or Christianity.

Spiritual wealth is freedom from religious dogma. Only then can we become closer to God.

Maralyn Kurshals

Send your letters to dchapman@midweek.com.