Balanced Capitalism, Not Socialism

To the Editor:

Socialism? Really? Ridiculous! Our country depends on capitalism. Capitalism built our country. But, capitalism can get out of balance. Free markets must be protected from monopolies. We are just nudging capitalism back into balance.

Let’s start with corporate welfare. Each year, big oil and big Ag get over $60 B in direct subsidies, plus much more indirectly. By law, fracking companies are protected from lawsuits. Drug companies are protected from Medicare negotiating lower prices, and Monsanto is protected from FDA tests on its GMO food. These are not free markets. These are government protected monopolies.

Shareholders have too much power. Workers have too little. All the money is going to rich shareholders, not middle class workers.

Corporations used to provide pensions. Now, most don’t. General Motors cancelled its pension by going through bankruptcy. By law, they were not required to put pension money aside into a protected account. If not for Soc Security and Medicare, retired workers from GM would be on the streets.

Corporations used to provide affordable healthcare insurance. Now, most don’t. Voluntary Medicare for All will restore competition in the healthcare industry. With huge buying power, Medicare will break the drug and hospital monopolies and negotiate lower prices. This is capitalism at its best. This is how free markets are supposed to work.

Without unions and a minimum wage, workers have no bargaining power. McDonalds can afford to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage, but only if all competitors pay the same wages. Yes, prices will increase, but only a few pennies per burger.

In the past, corporations offered employee advancement and supported their communities. Now, they pressure Congress for special laws and subsidies from our government—corporate welfare.

Our economy is out of balance. Only with balance can capitalism work well.

Marvin Keshner


Weak Links in Fire Protection?

To the Editor:

Recently, I read an article by the National Fire Protection Association about the “weak links” in the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem. Two of those links include an informed public and the role of preparedness and fire response.

Everyday our public is informed through the media what a catastrophic wildfire will do as we watch communities being destroyed. Cal Fire and Firewise are working on preparedness and fire response. Clearly, we have much work to do on our properties.

However, the article continued to explain that “the failure of local governments to take wildfire risks into account when making critical decisions about new development and redevelopment is well documented. Yet it’s nearly unheard of to have local officials held accountable for irresponsible decisions that allow dangerous development without restrictions on building materials, siting, and arrangement, and without a serious program of enforcement to ensure ignition resistance of buildings and landscapes. Even in the aftermath of recent tragedies, local officials are allowing structures to be rebuilt without benefit of the proven codes and standards that have been established over decades of research and experience.”

Did the General County Plan that was passed in January, 2020, include “restrictions on building materials, siting, arrangement, and a serious program of enforcement to ensure ignition resistance of buildings and landscapes...”? Should we be holding our County Board of Supervisors accountable? Could we consider this a criminal act on the part of our Supervisors for not following the Wildland and Urban Interface Regulations that the state of California has created? Should the Grand Jury look into this? Have we as a county been robbed of fire protection because our past and present Supervisors do not have the skills or will to be responsible? Who will answer these questions?

Mary Anne Schmidt