Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor 4/3

Social Security fraud

Charles Krauthammer’s premise that Social Security should find new funding because we, the Unites States, can’t or won’t repay the money we borrowed from it is nonsense. The problem isn’t with Social Security or, as he puts it “unsustainable pension liabilities”— it is with the unsustainable borrowing from what would otherwise be a healthy social security system.

This fraud started with Reagan unlocking the lock box and has continued to the present. Note that all the reforms Krauthammer suggests for ‘saving’ Social Security are aimed at raising more revenue. What he doesn’t advocate is relocking the lock box. If the Treasury can’t and won’t pay back the bonds, wouldn’t the first step be to cut off lending? And if the Treasury can’t repay those bonds, why, despite the fictitious AAA rating, should we continue to allow it to borrow money from other sources?

This whole line of argument ultimately leads to the demands by the extreme conservatives and Wall Street to get rid of Social Security. This would be the ultimate crime; killing off the entity that we embezzled the money from. What an interesting way of clearing debt. Hope it doesn’t catch on.

Patrick Moloney

Los Osos

Losing our edge

In his State of the Union message, President Barack Obama called for investment in innovation to recapture America’s technological leadership. Unfortunately, we are indeed losing our competitive edge in many areas of technology and science.

My field is robotics. Industrial robots were invented in the U.S., and we led the world for a long time. Now, most of the new developments in robotics are appearing in other countries, both in Europe and Asia. We certainly do not have a monopoly on new ideas. The problem is that while industry supports applied research that transforms new theories into commercial products, only the government can support basic, fundamental research that produces these new theories and ideas. Since basic research may not yield results for years (if ever), we cannot expect industry to support it. And yet, if we don’t nourish these new ideas, there will be no source for new products.

Now, Congress proposes to cut budgets for basic research, and the future for our country looks dim indeed. I can see the day coming when the United States will be exporting primarily agricultural products (such as soybeans and wheat) and importing high technology products. Isn’t that the definition of a “Third World country”?

George A. Bekey

Arroyo Grande

Don’t relicense Diablo

The news media reported that water drained from the storage pools housing spent fuel at the reactors in the crisis in Japan. When this happens, the exposed radioactive rods release radioactivity into the environment. Imagine being in the position of the Japanese people! If that were to happen to the pools at Diablo, we would be breathing contaminated air and drinking contaminated water. 

This is preventable. The longer the plant operates, the more highly radioactive, spent fuel rods need to be housed. 

Let’s speak up to the California Public Utilities Commission and ask that it not allow the relicensing of Diablo until PG&E has completed the mandated geologic mapping of fault lines around the plant.

That way, we can worry more about our china cabinet in the next earthquake, rather than about our radioactive air and water. The PUC can be contacted at cpuc.ca.gov.

Debbie Highfill

Morro Bay 

Support for Gibson

The San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society must comment on Bob Cuddy’s recent article on the recommendations of an ad-hoc committee of environmental organizations regarding choices for a Central Coast Coastal Commission representative. Mr. Cuddy noted that the committee had taken the unusual step of claiming that Bruce Gibson was unqualified. The article mentioned that the California Native Plant Society was part of the committee, and our Ventura County representative took part in the candidate interview process but did not consult with our chapter.

We strongly object to this characterization of Supervisor Gibson, who has a strong environmental record in his voting and in his actions.

He played a pivotal role in bringing coastal bluffs north of Cayucos into the State Park system and has sought to protect coastal viewsheds. The inconsistent manner in which the ad-hoc committee singled out Gibson, relative to some of the other candidates who had far fewer environmental accomplishments, is troubling.

David Chipping

President, SLO Chapter, California Native Plant Society

Don’t subsidize nuclear

As I watch the crisis unfold in Japan and the brave Japanese workers volunteering to shorten their lives to avoid an even larger catastrophe, I cannot believe that the United States is insisting that it can't happen here. I can’t believe that we are not making the decision to turn from the contaminated, costly ticking time bomb that is nuclear energy.

There are just so many things wrong that I am at a loss as to why anyone is willing to subsidize this industry, risking our environment and fellow citizens for an energy source that only makes up about 15 percent of our electricity needs. The mining of uranium is highly fossil-fuel intensive and leaves contaminated Super Fund sites, and the Price-Anderson Act of 1957 limits the industry’s liability, which makes the American people the insurance underwriters for the industry. We the people will foot the bill for finding a storage spot for the waste that will be toxic for generations and the highly profitable nuclear industry is now looking at receiving billions more dollars in subsidies and “help” with permitting processes.

We need to stop shifting all of the various costs of nuclear power onto the American public and let the energy source sink or swim on its own.

Meg Evans  

San Luis Obispo

Where’s the change?

If you don’t think the American people are being lied to, manipulated and brainwashed, take a look at the news lately; the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was established as part of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (Public Law 111-21) passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in May 2009. This independent, ten-member panel was composed of private citizens with experience.

It was a scathing report on the causes of the financial meltdown (read at www.fcic.gov) —but did we read about it in the newspapers? Did we see it on the nightly news, on the websites of the major news agencies? It was squashed by the mass media.

Where is the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery? What they did was against the law. Read the constitution.It’s not the states budgets that are a problem — it’s the whole financial system worldwide. Ireland, Greece, Egypt, Portugal, England and others are all suffering.

The Federal Reserve is printing money to save the corporations rather than the states or the people.Bring back the Glass–Steagall Act and let the banks suffer for a change. This wasn’t the change we were promised in 2008.

Larry Sullivan

Los Osos

Can’t afford everything

The lack of a basic understanding of economics is appalling, and Judge’s political cartoon (March 21), questioning the wisdom of tax cuts during a budget crisis is certainly a good example. Even worse is that a lot of people will nod in agreement and won’t see the irony.  

Government can only get money from three places: tax, borrow or print. All three ultimately hit the taxpayer — households and businesses.  The only difference is whether the effect will be immediate (taxes), or delayed (borrowing or printing). All three hinder job creation and economic growth.  

Government, businesses and households do have something in common: There will always be more good ideas to spend money on than the money available. We cannot afford everything we want.  

Federal spending is $3.5 trillion on $2.1 trillion in revenue, 67 percent above tax receipts. No household or business could sustain that level of deficit spending.  

Government is no different, and the bond market will be the final arbiter, if and when the raters decide, as they did with Greece, that government debt is unsustainable.

 James Schaefer

Paso Robles

Support Walmart

The Atascadero Wickershams look forward to the grand opening of our new Walmart. Walmart won’t cause small businesses to close. Look at Paso Robles, where downtown is thriving and business improved after Walmart opened. Many people go to Walmart then to a restaurant in Paso Robles, or shopping or a movie while there.

With the new Walmart, residents will shop in Atascadero rather than traveling outside the city to shop. This reduces fuel and air pollution from travel. Atascadero residents are spending about $117 million on retail goods elsewhere — about one-third of the estimated total potential sales made by city residents. This will keep millions in our local economy that would be spent outside our city.

Existing retail stores and restaurants throughout Atascadero, including downtown, will benefit from shoppers coming from outside Atascadero, bringing millions of dollars in new sales to Atascadero. To strengthen vital city services such as public safety and roads, we must encourage business growth in Atascadero that will bring in new revenue.

Walmart and annex projects won’t result in any significant noise or lighting impacts. Sustainable design features and compliance with state and local regulations will reduce project greenhouse gas emissions by about 32.5 percent.

Support Walmart and a thriving Atascadero.

Nancy Wickersham


County’s hired guns

J.A. Hyde gets the explanation of local union negotiations 100 percent completely wrong in his March 23 letter, “The Way It Works.” Contrary to Hyde’s portrayal of an unfair negotiating process tilted in favor of organized labor — it’s San Luis Obispo County management that brought in highly-paid hired guns from out of town (to the tune of more than $400,000 and counting) to sit down with local union representatives and hash out a new contract. 

Make no mistake, the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association has always been locally controlled, and its negotiating team is composed of everyday county employees. There was a time when negotiators on both sides of the table were regular folks from around these parts. It’s county administration that reached out to the San Francisco firm of Renne Sloan Holtzman and Sakai, paying its negotiators hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to play hardball with county employees.

Workplace and compensation issues that once took six or seven meetings to settle were suddenly drawn out to more than two dozen sessions, which begs the question: does Renne Sloan get paid by the hour?

With the tally fast approaching half a million dollars, one has to wonder whether such expenditures are a wise use of county funds.

Jim Mallon

San Luis Obispo