Union Democrat staff

Obamacare and religious freedom

To the Editor,

According to Obama's health care plan, no federal money can be spent on abortions.

So why all the hubbub and political thinking regarding induced abortions?

The absence of federal money constitutes a disclaimer, and that leaves contraception as a choice.

Personally, I have 11 children and do not believe in contraception or abortion, but contraception has been around for a long time and remains a choice.

Other people's choices are not a threat to Catholics' freedom of religion, as proclaimed by the Catholic bishops of the United States.

The bishops continue to make a "loss of religious freedom" case out of the contraception issue included in Obamacare.

Rather than recognize the good and help the insurance plan provide for the poor who can't afford medical insurance, the bishops have become a third political party to promulgate guilt upon good Catholics in an attempt to take votes away from Obama. Their stance against national insurance for all shows their motives are mercenary, political and in line with the Republican Party. They are presenting a relativistic morality where their political views cloud their intellect and their duty as spiritual leaders.

Through control and guilt, they make sure that Catholics keep filling the collection baskets and encourage parishioners to vote according to the bishops' collective conscience.

These bishops have betrayed us through the clandestine cover-up of pedophilia.

Now, we are again being betrayed through their lack of compassion and empathy for the poor.

Christ did not follow the letter of the law but rather treated each problem on its individual case.

The Christ I know would point out the implicit disclaimer in the words of Obamacare.

Tom Besmer

Angels Camp

Railtown's Economic Impact

To the Editor,

A recent guest opinion in The Union Democrat (May 8) by Nanci Sikes, executive director of Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau (TCVB) said, "If only 10 percent of this $170 million was due to a visit to Railtown 1897 or the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, we would be looking at a $17 million economic engine!"

In a recent online blog (May 19), Bruce Tepper, TCVB marketing consultant said, "If 10 percent of our visitors come here for Railtown (which may be low considering the market for this type of attraction), that represents $17 million in revenue!"

Not true.

Railtown got 42,466 visitors according to the California State Park System Statistical Report, 2010/11 Fiscal Year. Surely 10,000 are county residents. The result: about 33,000 tourists per year.

In an advertisement in The Union Democrat Recreation Guide, the Visitors Bureau claims that "Over 5 Million Visitors Come to Tuolumne County Every Year!"

Thirty-three thousand tourists is 0.66 percent of five million - not even close to 10 percent.

The Fairgrounds, according to a Letter to the Editor (May 25) by Toni Wagner, Mother Lode Fair board member, gets 120,000 "visitors" per year. How many are tourists? Twenty-five percent? Fifty percent? That would be 63,000 to 93,000 total tourists for both Railtown and the Fairgrounds. This is 1.26 percent to 1.86 percent of 5 million.

Again, nowhere near 10 percent.

These inaccurate numbers refuse to die.

On June 16, Catherine Taylor from California State Parks was quoted saying: "Railtown 1897 is an important economic engine for Tuolumne County that contributes an estimated $17 million annually in tourism revenue."

The incorrect numbers lead people to believe that Railtown is a hugely popular attraction that only needs more money. In fact, effort needs to be put into developing Railtown further, promoting it better, and making better use of Railtown in promoting downtown Jamestown and the rest of the county.

Craig A. Will

Mi-Wuk Village