Union Democrat staff

Where are the brains?

To the editor:

I cannot believe a "controlled" fire was started at this time of the year. Where are the brains? Wind is always a factor, and this was not sufficiently taken into consideration (if at all). As I see it, this is another way of burning up our hard-earned tax dollars. Especially now. It is bad enough having to spend millions of dollars fighting forest fires, without extra help from incompetent people who cause fires and who should know better.

You have all year to choose a sensible time have control fires. Why now, the hottest time of the year?

On another subject, I also agree with the earlier remarks of another reader who questions the advisability of building a better bridge on Phoenix Lake Road. And, at this time of year especially, in relation to the aspects of fire and evacuation, should it become necessary. Lives would be lost.

Chris Wheeler


Yosemite fire

To the editor:

A few thoughts on the Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite.

In our conversation with my wife, I thought her view was pretty pragmatic. All burn permits had been suspended quite a while ago due to weather and humidity. Knowing this, most responsible citizens stop burning due to fire danger.

Our supposed guardians of the forests, forestry supervisors in charge of a national park, decided at the end of August to clear 91 acres by controlled burn. We read how they had prepared for the burn, weed whacked under all trees, laid hose lines, had plenty of fire people on hand, etc.

Didn't work, and now 7,000 to 8,000 acres of forest and millions of dollars of taxpayer money have been spent to put out the controlled burn gone awry.

My wife asked a simple question: Why didn't the people who planned the burn just use the hand labor now fighting the fire and clear all 91 acres in a couple of days? Sure would have been cheaper.

Will any heads roll in departments that came up with this foolish idea? No, we hear in the paper they are defending the burn.

Dennis and Pam Del Corno


Rest of the story

To the editor:

I too was upset by the Sierra Views feature on Roger Haughton, but not for the reasons stated in Linda Kutner's letter (Sept. 4).

The UD chose to focus on the external aspects of Haughton's wealth and totally missed the real story of this man and his family. Roger, his wife Judy, and their children have spent hundreds of hours in service to others. They have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to charitable organizations, many of which are right here in Tuolumne County. Creating safe and stable environments for struggling families by providing affordable housing has long been the focus of their giving.

Instead of an article featuring their wealth and personal success, we should be praising their generous and selfless dedication to helping those in need in Tuolumne County.

Margaret McCreary

Twain Harte

Health care

To the editor:

Do those of us who have "enough," think we have a right to the world's best health care - that we've "earned" it? At the same time, do we rationalize that we are a compassionate nation? A Christian nation?

I am embarrassed by our denial. All major world religions espouse the "golden rule," to treat others as we would have them treat us, and to care for the people on the margins.

Health care should be a right, not a privilege, especially in the richest country on earth. There should be no discussion on whether or not to adopt affordable health care for everyone, only the best way to achieve it.

We keep saying that we have the "finest health care" in the world. Untrue. In terms of results, almost all advanced countries have better national health statistics than the U.S. does. Financially, we force 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. In France, Britain, Japan and Germany the number is zero. These countries spend 4 to 6 percent on administration; U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world-roughly 20 percent.

There is too much mean-spiritedness in the current debate which serves only to line a few people's pockets. And if we're really so worried about how to pay for real reform, we would find a way. We seem to find plenty of money for war.

Peggy Kingman