Union Democrat staff

Income equality a divisive topic

To the Editor:

Readers opening to the Opinion page of the Jan. 14 Union Democrat were treated to quite an amazing letter.

Ray Anderson pointed out, first off, that people talking about income inequality "reveal the Marxist indoctrination embedded within." Be that is it may, public opinion polls show some 47 percent to 65 percent (depending on how questions are worded) of adults in the country believe that income inequality is a problem. That would mean a sizeable number - tens of millions - of "embedded Marxists" are out and about in avowedly capitalist America. More than a few would be prominent officer holders and office seekers.

The letter goes on to explain that "Problems of the poor...stem from their own life choices." The causes of poverty in America, of course, are multiple and complex. Anderson blames the victims. Nowhere in the letter is there mention of lack of jobs, and job prospects for young people, which would help account for the family dysfunction, distressed neighborhoods, and damaging personal choices associated with poverty.

One may wonder how widely Anderson's beliefs are held in our counties. The contrast between his hard-edged opinions and say, the generous minds at the recent Martin Luther King gathering, could hardly be more striking.

Income inequality will be a major issue in the 2014 election cycle. Protected by the First Amendment, citizen Anderson should have a field day.

Dick Peterson


Jobs of the future will be in robotics

To the Editor:

Several recent business articles have taken me back to my childhood years in the 1940s and 1950s in Hawaii. Sugar (cane) and pineapple were king. Labor was plentiful and cheap; immigrants from Asia worked the fields. There was minimal mechanization, as labor costs were low and international competition was virtually nonexistent.

After World War II, plantation laborers became unionized and, as is so often the case, rising wages created a dilemma. The higher labor costs rose, the more plantations had to mechanize to stay competitive internationally. While higher wages were a union bragging point, mechanization meant fewer and fewer jobs i.e. most workers lost their jobs because labor had priced itself out of the international market.

High real estate prices, high taxes, voluminous government regulations and inflexible union work rules helped to drive sugar and pineapple from Hawaii. Today one sugar plantation and one modest Del Monte pineapple effort are all that remain.

Back to the articles of in my first sentence. In them, many businesses explained that they are having to automate to complete both domestically and internationally. All the government rules and regulations, all the tax, health care and other uncertainties, all the built-in costs now associated with labor are forcing the automation. Takes me back to Hawaii. Those jobs which are retained tend to be higher paying, as automation often replaces less-skilled positions (raising the minimum wage raises interesting questions). Business after business is quoted as saying their futures depend on more automation, and less on traditional labor.

Summerville High School/ Connections Academy students have a robotics club sporting two competitive robot teams, recently featured on the newspaper's front page. The schools are seriously considering a class devoted to robotics next year. That is the direction our schools need to go if our kids are to compete.

George R. Kellerman


Fire taxes just keep climbing

To the Editor:

This time again it's a fire issue wanting a response. We just had one last year (Not a tax, mind you) but it ended up costing me $640 per year more. The new tax will be $940.50 per year. It's getting expensive to live here don't cha think?

Now it's money wanted for new equipment. I do not begrudge our hard working firefighters and medical support folks anything that makes good sense.

I tried to fill out the form they sent out asking for input on the new charges. They gave me a code to use if I wished to respond via the internet. The code didn't work.

My suggestion I was going to email them was why, where I worked for years, next to a clinic in Valley Springs did they have three fire trucks and two ambulances plus a cop car arriving at a home where someone was sick.

Does a single call for someone in distress warrant that type of response? There's wear and tear on equipment, expensive gas usage, extra manpower involved etc.

Just wondering that's all.

Al Duncan

Valley Springs