Union Democrat staff

We still Occupy

To the Editor,

Readers may have noticed that we Occupiers continue to stand Saturdays midday at Courthouse Square, as we have now for over a year. Our modest aim is still to call attention to - raise consciousness about - the vast gulf in personal income in America, most notably the enormous and increasing amassing of wealth at the top.

As we know, 80 to 90 percent of the nation's wealth (estimates vary) is in the hands of just about 5 percent of the populace.

Nobody doubts that big money, from individual millionaires a well as corporations, buys candidates and offices. Legislators, thus beholden, secure financial advantages for the rich, and limit opportunities for the rest of us.

Rich elites, for example, spend unlimited resources on their children, while public schools are starved for funding.

How could the citizenry have allowed this level of economic inequality come about? This can't be the America we want.

What's the future? One scenario: As inequality hardens, upward mobility falls, and with it the open system that made the country great in the first place.

Another prospect is mindful that world history since the Middle Ages is riddled by frequent rebellions, large and small, usually driven by economic desperation and hatred of rich, despotic rulers.

Such an uprising seems inconceivable in the U.S., given the safety nets in place, our tradition as a peaceable, orderly society, and Americans' usual reluctance to join in mass protests.

Yet, who can say?

Dick Peterson


Building permit fees

To the Editor,

Annually, Duncan Associates publishes a survey comparing fees levied for the construction of a 2000 square foot home. In 2011, the national average was $8,689 outside of California. California hit an astonishing average of $32,531. These fees are a tax, the most regressive kind of tax hitting the young and less affluent the hardest. Mostly, only large developers can afford these kinds of regulatory fees. It leads to the proliferation cookie-cutter housing developments.

Regulations and fees are equally burdensome for small business and are being used as powerful weapons by big business and interest groups pushing for "stack and pack" smart growth plans like the "Blue Print" just approved in Tuolumne County.

These regulations and plans drive out smaller competition, inhibit new competition and force families into high density developments. We never hear about the down side of these plans, but it can be seen in the 80 homes that just burned in New Jersey. Packing people together can be very hazardous.

The bureaucracies that have developed with increased regulation are grossly over-extended on salaries and pensions. The public pays for these regulations through higher fees and prices, lack of choice, lack of opportunity and watching their children and grandchildren leave.

Most regulation is under the guise of "health and safety."

Much of it, though, not only fails to improve conditions but is detrimental because of the adverse economic impact. Governor Brown just removed some of the commercial kitchen requirements that are a huge barrier to new businesses. Are we in more danger now? No. Nor are we safer because we mandate septic system checks twice a year instead of every two years, but it sure props up some businesses and discourages people from living outside of "developments."

Thank you Evan Royce for being the lone vote against this nonsense.

Heidi Fuller


Thank you

To the Editor,

I want to express my profound gratitude to the individuals who came to my aid when I fell in the Walmart parking lot on Sept. 11, receiving a severe leg injury. I'm sorry I do not have your names. The first to help said he had 25 years experience in first aid, the second was a nice lady who reassuring me said "I'm a nurse." There were others.

The Sterns who saw that my pet dog was returned to my family, and those who aided in getting my automobile returned. Also I want thank the Sonora Regional Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Center for their treatment and the outstanding care given by the staff.

Jere Calef


The joys of

running a business

To the Editor,

A young man came to us Jan. 23 asking for work. We were not advertising for help but decided to give him a chance.

On May 7, he sent a text message saying he could not afford gas to come to work and quit. In three months he had missed four days of work. He then applied for unemployment and was denied partly due to this text message.

He appealed and we received a package of 42 pages from the California Appeals Board regarding a hearing in Sacramento.

The employee was a no-show. Twenty days later he appealed for a second time claiming he was out of town working.

We received a package of 42 pages regarding a hearing in Sacramento. Again the employee was a no-show. We now received a 42 page package regarding a third hearing. The employee was allowed to appeal for a third time even though he did not appeal within the required 20 days and was a no-show time before.

Is this the way California helps small business? Is this a responsible use of taxpayer's dollars?

I think I'll be a no-show!

Tom Molinari Sr.