No temporary taxes
The Tribune’s April 8 editorial, “Officials’ stubbornness will cost us,” cited Gov. Brown’s proposal to let the voters extend temporary taxes.
There is no such thing as a temporary tax. As an example I give you the federal excise tax on telephone service and tires. The tax on phone service was started in 1898 during the Spanish-American War to help finance that war and has been on again off again since then. The federal excise tax on tires, which is now levied on just heavy tires, was started in 1918 to help finance WWI and has been with us most years since then. And yes, the tire tax is scheduled to expire in October 2011 — but 93 years of taxes is far from temporary.
If we vote to extend the current taxes, as Jerry Brown wants, they will never go away in our lifetime. Just look at how hard it has been to curb Sacramento’s spending and imagine how hard it will be to repeal these tax increases in the future. There is no such thing as a temporary tax!
Did you know that most retired educators do not receive their full earned Social Security benefit, nor their spousal Social Security death benefit if their spouse dies first?
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System is not blended with Social Security, so the CalSTRS retirement benefit is all the educator will receive. When Social Security was first established, it was a three-legged stool approach to retirement to provide income security to seniors. Retirement income would include personal savings, pension (employer retirement benefit) and Social Security.
For California educators, only two of the three legs are available. Consequently, when you compare CalSTRS benefits with those in the private sector, or the benefits from other public sector retirement system, the lack of Social Security benefits must be part of that comparison.
Unfortunately, too often public pension opponents believe there is a one-size-fits-all public pension system. That is not the case for CalSTRS because of the denial of earned Social Security benefits from the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset that were enacted in the 1980s.
Steven Click, local president of California Retired Teachers Association
Rein in excesses
In his letter to The Tribune of April 2 (“Divide and conquer,”) Tim Crowley argues that, since two of the 22 right-to-work states in our country have worse financial problems than California, a closed shop state, that the “current union-bashing frenzy” is misplaced.
First of all, I don’t accept the premise of “union-bashing.” What’s happening, pure and simple, is that Americans have come to the realization that increasingly rich public employee union contracts are bankrupting their cities and states. The only hope for avoiding the crippling of services and possible insolvency is to rein in these excesses as soon as possible.
And second, if 20 of 22 of the right-to-work states are in better shape than California, doesn’t that suggest that those states’ public sector union policies should be considered by our state?
Romance with nuclear
Japan is a living memorial to the hazards of nuclear power. Radiation will poison that heroic nation for generations, and one wonders what tragedy it will take to finally expose our Faustian gamble with nuclear fission!
Prior accident records are clear: design criticisms from nuclear engineers were shelved; operators demonstrated incompetence; profits overshadowed recommended upgrades and effective regulation; dangers were forgotten or ignored at aging reactors. Today, with China now leading the field, proponents once again insist that new designs — “evolutionary” or “thorium-fueled” reactors — are truly safe. (Overly optimistic reports and studies should be shredded so they can find use plugging future radiation leaks!)
It is our uncritical romance with this dangerous technology that must end. Originally optimistic, Einstein later lamented “I should’ve been a plumber!” over misuse of nuclear power. Indeed, until good engineering (and good plumbing) are valued over profits, nuclear energy remains more existential threat than promise.
San Luis Obispo
Playing into fears
While I am not surprised about the volume of letters being printed that are anti-nuclear, it’s still disappointing that you, the media, are playing into the fears of the American people by portraying nuclear power in a one-sided way. Sure, there has been the obligatory printing of PG&E’s response to all this, but nowhere have I seen any actual reporting on nuclear power.
The Washington Post has a great article comparing the overall safety of electric generation. And guess what type comes out as the safest? Yup, nuclear.
A few facts
I am an expert in nuclear operations and quality assurance. I presently work for Mitsubishi, where I manage quality assurance for a project to build a new nuclear plant in Virginia. I have many Japanese colleagues familiar with the nuclear energy in Japan.
A few facts are in order.
1. The Fukushima reactors were old. They had not been retrofitted to meet U.S. nuclear standards issued following the Three Mile Island event.
2. The earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima greatly exceeded the design basis of the plant.
3. No deaths have been attributed to the public as a result of the Fukushima failure.
In short, an earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima, which far exceeded the design basis of this old facility, has resulted in no public deaths. Based on reports of radiation exposure to the public, it is highly unlikely that any public deaths will be attributable to Fukushima.
There are, however, nearly 20,000 dead in Japan and more than $200 billion in property damage as a result of the natural disaster. Try to keep some perspective.
Recent news of PG&E agreeing to postpone relicensing does not bring a sigh of relief. All this means is that the Diablo Canyon power plant will continue to operate, business as usual, for at least the next four years. At that time there will be more papers, more reviews and more power politics. Meanwhile, Diablo Canyon sits on an area riddled with faults; an earthquake nuclear disaster waiting to happen.
Diablo Canyon will never be safe. Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island all have taught us that glaring lesson. It’s time to close this plant, this chapter of nuclear energy, and turn the page to solar power. Cover the rooftops of homes, businesses, schools and hospitals with solar panels. Give incentives to individuals and small businesses instead of the corporations. Put thousands of people to work and boost the economy as we move into a leadership role providing safe, renewable energy.
We must take action now, the risks are simply too high. Close Diablo now. Go solar!
Maria Brousse Kindel
Rally on Saturday
We are expecting a big turnout for the No More Nuclear Victims Rally at the Avila Pier this Saturday. To avoid traffic congestion, I want people to know that a free trolley will be available. Check the Mothers for Peace website, www.mothersforpeace.org, for the trolley schedule.
Far from danger
Of course Kevin McCarthy wants Diablo Canyon power plant relicensed, he lives somewhere else. If something goes horribly wrong at Diablo, like it did in Japan, he and his family will be far away. We will get the radiation and he will get the television interviews. All of these politicians who advocate for nuclear power should be mandated to move their families within 10 miles of a facility. They have nothing to lose, unlike those of us who live here — who will lose everything.
San Luis Obispo
Worthy of trust?
In response to Japan’s nuclear disaster, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that U.S. nuclear power plants are safe. Do you feel safe? Nuclear plants are only as safe as the companies that run them. Ask yourself: “Has PG&E proven itself a company that puts safety ahead of profits? Are they worthy of the public trust?”
Ask the residents of Hinckly and San Bruno what they think about PG&E’s safety record. Twenty years later, toxic plumes still seep into groundwater systems in Hinckly. In San Bruno 9 percent of PG&E gas line safety records still can’t be found.
Even the pro-nuclear NRC has cited PG&E six times in the past nine months for safety violations! One violation for operating with disabled emergency systems for 19 months, another for problems with several emergency diesel generators and air compressor lines that hadn’t even been tested to see if they would work in an earthquake!
And if that isn’t troubling enough, independent studies, done by the U.S. Geological Survey, show that fault lines near the plant are much more extensive than PG&E reports. Maybe the question should be: “Do you feel lucky?”
Meridith J. Maahs
If the plant fails
Addressing my town, family and friends: I do not believe we need a seismic study or a more efficient warning system for Diablo Canyon. If the plant fails for whatever reason, we will all have failed.
Such a beautiful place on Earth, uninhabitable my own backyard.
If you think times are hard now, try selling your paper to a ghost town.
San Luis Obispo