Union Democrat staff

Minimum wagejust won't do

To the Editor:

Picture, if you will, what it's like living on a minimum wage - $8 an hour, in California, about $1,300 per month for a full-time worker. That paycheck nowhere near covers the cost of life's necessities. Suppose you are the only earner in the family. What would it be like returning from an eight-hour shift knowing you can't properly feed your family.

The minimum wage needs to be raised. An more and more states (18 so far) and cities are doing so.

Higher minimum wages can strengthen families - by enabling them to better provide for basic needs, by helping them get off the debt treadmill, and by otherwise affording families an added sense of financial security.

The local economy will be helped as extra income is spent locally. Business activity will not suffer. Employers will find it easier to hire and retain workers and will benefit from stronger employee loyalty and better job performance.

Might the Chamber of Commerce want to study the issue? It could view an increase in the minimum wage as an investment in the community. The Chamber could check with other cities (e.g., San Jose) that have raised their minimum wage above the state or federal minimum, to learn what their experience has been. Santa Clara County is currently studying the likely impact in unincorporated areas of a minimum wage hike; their conclusions should also be instructive.

Beyond benefits to families and the local economy, a fair or a living wage is a matter of basic human dignity and civic decency. No person working full-time should have to live at the poverty level. Are we a good, a just society and community, or not?

Richard Peterson


Whistleblowers are necessary

To the Editor:

The U.S. government has a long, active history of attempting to stifle political dissent. "Uttering" negative speech against the U.S. government was a crime; any "scurrilous" language to "defame" it, a crime.

Acts by the U.S. government cast a wide and far net against individual citizen, immigrant, mainstream opposition political party participants, or other "troublemakers" who opposed entrenched political power.

The US has used overt and covert programs in place to divert public attention from its black and covert ops by impugning its own citizen dissenters during times of stress.

June 1798, The "Alien Friends Act", authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous" to the peace and safety of the U.S.

July 1798, The "Sedition Act" made it a crime to "oppose any measure of the government … or its officials."

The famous "Palmer Raids" of 1919, targeting the most vulnerable, immigrants, organized labor activists and other dissenters that were eventually deported.

Dies Committee of 1938 and its successor, The House Un-American Activities Committee, 1945; Smith Act, 1940; American Legion/FBI scandal (and other citizen groups) 1940 to 1954; Project Shamrock, 1945; McCarran Act, 1950; 1956, the infamous secret FBI Cointelpro program; "Operation Chaos", (anti-Vietnam dissent) 1967, and many more up to the present Patriot Act and its resultant expansive machinations.

The April 1976, "Church Committee Report on Domestic Surveillance and Other Illegal Activities by U.S. Intelligence" is an excellent primer on the danger of these programs and the ultimate result, a totalitarian government. Obviously this excellent report has been ignored by presidents and the two major political parties.

The more severe U.S. foreign policies embrace the perceived inherent right to exploit anyone else's natural, human and political resources for its own "interests", the more repressive it will act against its own citizens' constitutional rights.

Our Bill of Rights needs "whistleblowers."

Bert Canepa