Letters to the editor for July 8, 2013

Union Democrat staff

Rescued baby owls

To the Editor:

he Union Democrat's story touched my heart so much that I wanted to commend all those who took part in the rescue of those two lucky little owlets during the Mariposa fire and those who are helping them recover. There are many kind hearts involved - the unidentified fireman, the fireman Gauthier, the biologist Otto from the Sierra National Forest and the Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, where they are now recovering and will soon be returned to the wild. A happy ending, because of people who care.

Jo Ellen Hart


The common good

To the Editor:

Several months ago I chanced to meet and chat with an acquaintance who has recently been elected to one of the local governing bodies. On parting, said friend says "Yes, I'll be working for all of us" (words to that effect).

I got to wondering what "all of us" might mean. The Preamble to the Constitution speaks of "promote the general welfare." Works like "general interest," and "the common good" seem outmoded, given today's special interest, ideology-driven politics. Assume, nonetheless, that government exists to serve the public good (an assumption not all will accept). Most would agree that, at the least, laws advancing public safety and public health are for the common good.

Suppose a properly conducted survey showed that 80 percent of residents favor substantially expanded and modernized police services. Our elected leaders will agree, but they are likely to insist that "we don't have the money," and we don't and we don't want to raise taxes.

Suppose, then, that our expert pollster comes back with the finding that 60 percent of the citizenry are willing to pay a higher tax - say, a half-cent more sales tax - for expanded police work.

Presented with such information, what is the obligation of local government? In a democracy, we may add.

One can think of other issues, beyond public safety, that local government could address for the common good - filling potholes and other road work, initiating programs to combat alcoholism, restoring full library services, raising the minimum wage, for instance.

The bottom-line question: Will the shrink-the-government-no-new-taxes-mindset of our elected officials trump measures intended to promote the general welfare in Tuolumne County?

End of the little thought exercise. As for me, I'll be noting how my acquaintance votes in the months ahead.

Dick Peterson


The Union Democrat
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