Union Democrat staff

Break them upTo the editor: In the recent financial debacle, many large financial institutions (AIG, Fannie Mae, large banks, Goldman Sachs, etc.) were labeled "too big to fail," so the U.S. government bailed them out with taxpayer money. These large institutions, via risky complex financial instruments, destroyed billions of dollars of wealth, some of which will never be reinstated. Also, the U.S. government assumed liabilities which has endangered its financial health. I am disappointed that there is very little discussion in Congress or elsewhere to break up these large institutions so they lose their status of "too big to fail." Smoking cigarettes is risky behavior, and society has no qualms about placing large taxes on cigarette sales transactions. Why don't we have large state and federal taxes on risky transactions of these large institutions? Also, large taxes should be imposed on trading large dollar value in currencies. Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs can literally harm countries as large as Greece, Portugal or Italy through shorting bonds. All these risky and potentially harmful transactions should bear heavy taxes. Dennis Schneider Angels Camp'Visioning' dangerousTo the editor: In reference to the Calaveras County General Plan Update, I think there are plenty of differing opinions on how the county should develop. Many of us seem to share the vision that it is possible and important to protect, preserve and restore our free society. This may be why our Constitution seems so important today. "Visioning," as exercised in the California Environmental Quality Act process, seems to involve an emotional and motivating exercise, whereby participants envision how other people's property should be used or not used over time. There is a danger in this type of visioning. It is like the soft and warm velvet glove hiding the cold iron fist of enormous future police power. Sometimes, we forget that the Planning and Building Departments operate on police power, and must be carefully watched to protect liberty and property rights.The shocking revelation of having hundreds of project applications delayed for years indicates to me that we have failed to be alert to this oppression in the past. At some of the public workshops participants rejected the prescribed Alternates A, B and C, and suggested an Alternate D - which would accept existing land use designations, but also would allow maximum flexibility for future change in accordance with the free market and would protect the property rights of all. Perhaps the vision of Alterative D is of our children living in a free and prosperous society with the free market deciding what land use would emerge, allin harmony with their human rights to life, liberty and property. Albert J. Segalla CopperopolisPropane pricesTo the editor: I enjoyed reading the comments from Richard Shears (letter, March 18) regarding propane prices. Unfortunately, it appeared too late for my benefit. We have been customers of a local propane company for 10 years. There always seems to be a problem with its billing, and last Wednesday, I went to the local office to pay. I had a statement from the main office in Fresno, but when I paid, the balance was not correct as to the statement. The clerk told me that the statement was incorrect, and that I owed more than showed on the bill. I checked my own records and settled the problem to my satisfaction. But later that day I noticed the company had refilled my tank even though it was half full, and had left a bill. I explained I didn't need the propane and knew that I was being overcharged for it, at $4.04 per gallon. I had called two other companies. They were charging in the mid-$2 range. I told my company to come out and siphon the refill back, but the clerk said then they would charge me $75 to come out and another $1.50 per gallon to retrieve it. I was told propane companies have the "right" to come out anytime they want to service their customers. The unscrupulous like to make us feel that we have no alternatives, but thanks to Mr. Shears' letter, we can be better informed and know that there are plenty of ways to fight the unjust tactics and intimidation of certain propane companies. Ana Schirmer SonoraPolitical signsTo the editor: Putting political signs out is a part of the American political culture and vandalizing them for any reason is not the right thing to do. Most candidates' committees try to put them on public property or easements. If one is placed on private property without permission, please call the candidate to remove it and I am sure it will be removed promptly. Participate in the political scene by becoming informed and voting responsibly and not by committing vandalism. Judy Olson Soulsbyville