Union Democrat staff

Public versus private

To the Editor:

It appears at present that more than half the country believe that

Mr. Obama and his liberal friends can best run financial services,

health care, even car companies, and a host of projects and services.

Most of the rest of us think that these activities should be in the

hands of private enterprise with limited government oversight. The

trouble is that we cannot test who is right since liberals are in the

saddle, and even if conservatives regain power, conditions and problems

will have changed.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could set up a test where both parties,

government and private enterprise, had to work on an identical project

or set of

problems at the same time?

Well guess what. Back in 1924, England set up just such a test. The

British government commissioned two enormous projects, the design and

construction of two large airships to identical specifications. One,

the R100, was to be designed and built by a private firm, Vickers

Limited, the

other, the R101, by the British Air Ministry staff.

The private enterprise R100 was a complete success. It was a superb

airship, completed on time, and made its maiden voyage to Canada and

back almost flawlessly. The government project, the R101, was

overweight, structurally unsound, and way late in completion. The

British Air Minister ignored the warnings of the Vickers engineers and

insisted that the R101 make her scheduled maiden flight to India, and

he and 47 others died when the craft suffered catastrophic structural

failure and crashed and burned. I guess one can only hope that Mr.

Obama does not insist on continuing to build his own R101, which is

clearly overweight and structurally unsound like its predecessor back

in 1930.

Robin Bowes


Suction dredging

To the editor:

Everyone is beating the SB670 Suction dredging moratorium issue

from both sides. Realistically many studies prove no harm. Behind the

smoke it was never about fish. It is about tribal possession of the

waterways in Siskiyou County. Unfortunately, it will affect many lives

and jobs in the entire state.

Let's talk economics, 10 years I have dredged the Mokelumne river.

Per week I spend $1,200 to $1,400 on supplies, food and lodging in

Amador County. Frequently I visit mining friends near Columbia and

always shop in your stores.

Last weekend I spent $190 in Sonora. So where did the money go? The

store buys more goods from the vendors, pays salaries, taxes, utilities

and rent. Downstream from there it is used in the community for food,

clothing, shelter, medical and entertainment.

There are many out-of-state miners who buy provisions, fuel and

gifts while in town. Last weekend, 14 vehicles with dredges and

out-of-state plates were either camped at the river or on the road.

With fifth-wheels and motor homes ranging in price from $50,000 to over

$200,000, the owners have considerable disposable income to spend while


Dredges are the mainstay of a mining shop. The moratorium will last

at least 3 years. Without high end sales they cannot pay rent or

employees. This will shut them down. The ripple effect of SB670 will

touch many small communities and shops that cater to tourists and

miners. Dredgers and their families will not return to California for

their vacations. They will take their recreational dollars to other

states such as Oregon, Georgia or Idaho to dredge.

James Madden

San Bruno