Union Democrat staff

Ever more income goes to the top

To the Editor:

It's a wonderful letter that Beverly Lovejoy wrote ("Setting McClintock's record straight", March 14). Everyone, regardless of their political leaning, should speak up against the extremists that split our country apart.

One small correction though, where she highlights the starkly growing disparity of income during the past three decades. It used to be, and it was generally considered acceptable, that the average CEO would make 20 times the income of his average workers. That has changed. CEOs now make 200, 300 times more than the average employees. Just consider Forbes Magazine's headline "Gravity-Defying CEO Pay." No, no, my right-wing friends, that's not a socialist/communist publication, it's written for the moneyed class. Apparently they, too, begin to understand there is a problem.

In the 1960s and '70s, relatively well-paid employees could consider themselves Middle Class, meaning roughly that one job would feed a family of four and enable them to buy a new car, take a vacation and even buy a modest house. No more. The growth in GDP, to which they contributed, is mostly going upstairs.

To find out how grossly unequal the distribution of income is, I like to go to my trusted source, the CIA. Don't fret, nothing is secret, it's all in the public domain. There is a list of inequality, known as the Gini-Index (explanation at the top). Among industrialized nations (ranked from bad to good), the U.S. comes first with a 45.0 percent. Ten years ago, the US ranked around 37 percent. That's how much worse things have gotten in a short time. European Union: 30.6 percent.

If you promise to think about it I will rest my case.

Klaus Kraemer


Tom McClintock guilty of hubris

To the Editor:

Congressman Tom McClintock's recent op-ed in The Democrat makes statements that require a response.

McClintock criticized Bush's spending, followed by the financial bailout of Wall Street. The Congressman attacks the Obama administration in the same breath as his criticism of Bush, stating he did not change the Bush policies. Some perspective here is necessary.

Obama was elected during the start of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and to avoid worse calamities to the U.S. and the world's economies, vast sums of money were spent to contain the damage and stimulate the economy. Most economists agree to different figures how that spent money averted further disaster. Keep this in mind: Even before the economic crisis, the U.S. debt grew 50 percent between 2000-2007. Every administration has added to the debt limit. Regan's was tripled between 1981-1989, while Bush II went from $4.9 trillion to 10.632 trillion, up 86 percent. Obama's rose 57 percent. The two wars alone have cost $2 trillion and may run between 4 to 6 trillion overall, as the bills keep piling up.

Obama failed in 2010 to eliminate the ill-advised Bush tax cuts that were to expire. He still faces a Congress unwilling to raise taxes or reform the tax code that favors the wealthiest among us and hides billions of potential revenue from offshore corporations while enjoying an effective 40 year low tax rate of 12.1 percent.

McClintock knocks the health care law when government economists in 2007 forecast healthcare would cost the economy $4.1 trillion by 2016. The status quo wasn't working.

McClintock favors less regulatory oversight even though less regulation was a large factor leading to the recession.

Hubris is still McClintock's friend.

Wayne Kirkbride

Twain Harte


ACA argument

To the Editor:

While sternly taking us liberals to task for our fuzzy reasoning abilities, James Schlotthauer (Letters March 12) should have checked his facts a little more closely. Among much misleading flak, one seriously false allegation needs to be corrected. He writes:

"I know at least a half dozen people who would be considered middle class whose insurance has doubled and deductibles up to $7000 for a young family of 5 that makes $40,000." Like every single one of the Republican and Koch brothers funded ads, this is untrue. If you simply go to CoveredCA.gov and enter that income and family size, you get the message: "Good news! Based on your income, the children in your household may qualify for Medi-Cal! The adults … may qualify for help with paying for health insurance through Covered California."

For that family, a subsidized Blue Cross Silver Plan is $107 per month. There is no deductible, a maximum out of pocket of $2,250 per individual and a maximum of $4,500 for the whole family.

Perhaps Mr. Schlotthauer's friends have a grandfathered plan which kept the old high rates and deductible, but is not then eligible for ACA subsidies. If so, the problem is not Obamacare but their insurance company. The Republican/Fox News/Koch Brothers lie machine has made families so scared of the dreaded and evil Obamacare, that they don't even check CoveredCa.com to find out if they qualify for a better plan.

It is especially important in Tuolumne County - where our income and unemployment rates are far worse than state averages - that people go to the website and get insurance now. The deadline is March 31 for coverage this year.

George Durkee

Twain Harte