A Jolly Cruise

To the Editor:

Join the libertarian “contra-Paul Krugman” cruise, on a ship draped with a “The Austrian School” banner. (Libertarians appear even to the right of the GOP.) Enjoy seminars ridiculing liberals, the Green New Deal, AOC. Even join Trump’s belittling Greta Thunberg, teen-age climate crisis activist.

Reality, likely sidestepped on this jolly cruise, is that since the 1980s and Reagan, our economy served the top 1%, especially the top 1/10th of 1%. They’ve benefited preferentially from gains in technology and productivity, almost to the exclusion of everyone else. Freidman’s “Chicago School,” (and the “Austrian School”) Reagan’s “Laffer curve” and “Greed is Good” ideology were all factors leading to today’s crisis in American capitalism. (The Right’s latest confused counter-myth and clever diversion: something about 1940’s Bretton Woods. What? Should we go back to the gold standard?)

The right talks of “elites” and vilifies “social engineering.” Our entire tax system has been socially engineered, bent to favor a real elite of entrenched corporate interests, those who fund right-wing politics. Pervasive antigovernment and “Think Tank” propaganda, as well as armies of tax lawyers and lobbyists have given us tax legislation favoring these elites. Bamboozled voters, the American Dream stolen, America’s working people now place last among developed countries.

People are rightfully upset and unhappy. Unfortunately, many exercised their frustrations by swallowing “Drain the swamp” promises of Trump, then Trump ended up swallowing the GOP.

As pre-cruise prep, you might google Robert Reich, and his clear, factual presentation on how we came to this mess.

Greta Thunberg got everyone’s attention. Her passion for the future of our imperiled planet is that of our children and grandchildren. The GOP, and apparently also the libertarians, clearly see AOC, and even Greta, as threats. Perhaps that’s a good reason for us to have hope for the country’s future.

Paolo Maffei


The New Reality?

To the Editor:

High praise for citizen groups trying to prepare us for our new reality—the high potential for wildfires—by thinning forests and creating firebreaks. And at the same time they’re demanding that the State of California guarantees reasonable wildfire insurance premiums for all Californians. However, there is a problem.

The “new reality” is a moving target that’s getting worse. In 1960, Sonora had 61 days of 90-degree weather, by 2018, 71 days and this year a whopping increase to 80 days. Science predicts by 2100 we will have 97 days of 90 to 112 degree days. Our “new reality” demands we plan for ever-worsening climate and wildfire seasons unless Congress ends atmospheric pollution; but that depends on us.

Remarkably, a majority of our region’s citizens still deny global warming; thus we elect people who refuse to acknowledge the problem and act. Our children and grandchildren are beginning to discover our complicity. They have every reason to condemnus for failing to protect their future. For 40 years we have ignored the science and elected oil industry “yes” men.

Today, we see with our own eyes dramatic climate catastrophes yet Congressman Tom McClintock claims they’re “normal weather.” Our insurance companies disagree. A lucky property owner pays $200 more a month for fire insurance, which is better than losing your insurance completely. These expenses have lowered our property values. Ironically, we are needlessly polluting our atmosphere then paying to regain a short-lived sense of security from wildfire.

Science reveals a rising probability of long-term drought with those higher temperatures. In that eventuality, our property values with our children’s future will sink. We can cling to McClintock’s groundless inventions but they’re a losing bet against established physics.

Robert Carabas

Fees are unfair

To the Editor,

I was appalled to read that the county is considering charging non-profit groups for the use of meeting rooms at public facilities such as the Library and the Museum.

Both the Friends of the Library, and the Historical Society, both of which I am a member, support these facilities already by providing not only money, but also hundreds of hours a year of volunteer time, and the suggestion that we should now pay a fee for the use of the facilities we support is a real kick in the teeth.

As for the suggestion that groups using the meeting rooms also be required to purchase insurance, I have to ask the question as to what possible risk a group of 12 mostly retired people sitting around a table discussing business presents to the county? This sounds more like a revenue enhancement move on the part of the county’s brokers, pure and simple.

I should remind the county that there are many other locations that local groups can meet in, most of them free, and that asking for a fee or an insurance policy will just encourage groups to move elsewhere. The impact on volunteer activities that support the facilities should also be considered, I would suggest.

Malcolm Carden


Wildfire is a threat like war

To the Editor:

The Firewise USA program is taking hold in Tuolumne County. Neighbors helping neighbors reduce wildfire risk. In six months we have gone from zero to three sites with several more in the works. The first site, TELLARA, has had two well-attended neighborhood meetings and scheduled a waste pick-up day Nov. 9.

Most residents are making an effort to create defensible space around their home as required by law.

Unfortunately there are no state requirements for undeveloped land. While many counties have passed ordinances addressing the fire hazard of undeveloped property, Tuolumne County has none.

Two supervisors and county fire experts told me the subject is politically unpopular. Yet the county is interspersed with tracts of undeveloped land that pose a major wildfire threat to all of us.

Failure to address the issue is having a major negative impact on obtaining fire insurance and its cost. The real estate industry is suffering; property values and equity are being affected. County property reassessments may reduce income to the county. Economic development and the tourist industry will be negatively affected. The threat of wildfire and its repercussions is the number one security and economic threat to every citizen of Tuolumne County.

This is not a political issue. It cannot be solved by the insurance industry or Cal Fire. It can only be solved by reducing the fuels that feed such fires. Supervisors must pass strict but reasonable ordinances addressing undeveloped land and enforce those ordinances. Cal Fire needs to be more proactive in the enforcement.

The legislature should mandate that insurance companies cannot cancel or fail to write fire insurance if a homeowner has met requirements and give homeowners at least six months to correct deficiencies. An independent third party should handle disputes.

Ed Fernandez


Logging isn’t being blocked

To the Editor:

Periodically a letter is written to the newspaper claiming that CSERC (the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center) is supposedly blocking logging projects in the local forest. In the past, on behalf of CSERC I have politely pointed out that claim is wildly incorrect.

For more than 20 years CSERC has openly promoted science-based thinning logging treatments in our region. As a participant in two local forest stakeholder collaborative groups, CSERC staff works hard to find ways to get more dollars for strategic thinning logging and to get more Forest Service capacity for needed projects in the national forest. CSERC works to increase the amount of prescribed fire projects, mastication of brush fields, and restoration of degraded or severely burned forest areas. We support thinning logging as one tool in the tool bag of forest management.

I also need to correct the mistaken claim that CSERC opposes PG&E contractors removing or limbing trees too close to powerlines. Our center has never taken any position against that work, which is legally mandated by the State.

I could make numerous other additional corrections, but the bottom line is this: CSERC is openly working in a respectful and dedicated manner to strive to protect water, wildlife, and wild places across our vast local region. We are indeed “environmentalists.” That is our mission. But through our years of engagement in all of the key environmental issues affecting this region, we’ve found there are often areas of overlapping agreement where all interests – loggers, cattlemen, developers, recreational users, wildlife enthusiasts, and others – can agree. Working on those areas of agreement not only builds bridges of respect for those who may at times hold opposing views, it can sometimes lead to win-win outcomes on key issues.

John Buckley

Twain Harte

The greatest economy ever?

To the Editor:

Is this “The Greatest Economy Ever”? No, not even close. It’s only been good for the Top 10%. Good jobs have been lost and replaced with minimum-wage jobs. Wages have barely increased in 40 years. The middle class is struggling and our economy is slowing.

From 1945 – 1980, real incomes doubled—for everyone. Good jobs were plentiful. One could work, earn a middle-class wage, and support a family—with only one job per family. College graduates had little debt and great job opportunities.

Today, college students often have crushing debt, cannot find a good-paying job, and cannot repay their loans. Buying a house is a pipedream. Many can only find minimum wage jobs. It takes 3 – 4 minimum-wage jobs to support a family.

In 1968, real unemployment was 3.5%. Real unemployment includes people who have stopped looking or can only find part-time work. Today, real unemployment is not 3.7%. It’s 7.5%.

From 1945 -- 1980, good jobs were well matched to the skills of our workforce. Today, we have a huge skill gap. We have 7.5 million jobs that cannot find skilled workers, and 12 million workers who cannot find a full-time job.

The traditional economic stimuli of tax cuts, low interest rates, and deficit spending are not working. The tax cut boosted the stock market, but not the economy. Trump’s trade war is hurting economies everywhere, including here.

We must invest in our middle class--in education and on-the-job training. Let’s provide student loans at our cost, 2%. To compete in the world, our workforce must become skilled. Good jobs are skilled jobs.

We must invest in infrastructure, protection from floods and wildfires, and renewable energy. These investments will create good-paying jobs, revitalize our middle class, and create a strong economy that works for everyone.

Marvin Keshner


The left is blind

To the Editor:

Obama and his cronies know about Russian Interference with elections in 2015 and 2016 and do nothing about it. Hillary emails are subpoenaed by the FBI, then she destroys over 30,000 of them and all devices they were on.

Bill Clinton meets with the attorney general while his wife’s under investigation secretly and then gets caught. Biden, on national TV, brags he blackmailed Ukraine for over a billion dollars if they didn’t fire the prosecutor investigating his son, which they did within six hours. Biden’s son’s own lawyer sent a letter apologizing to the fired prosecutor saying they were wrong.

You won’t see any of the truth and evidence on the democratic channels who hate Trump and run the Democratic Party with the radical socialist squad. Only on Fox.

And where’s Avanati? The corrupt lawyer that could beat Trump that was on CNN all the time. Brennan and the top FBI and DOJ personnel all conspired to form a coup to get rid of Trump, now the CIA is involved with the whistleblower.

The left, consumed with hatred against Trump, are blind and won’t face the truth. Hatred consumes their common sense. We the deplorable Walmart shoppers have our feet planted firmly on the ground.

The reason the left will constantly have these open hearings on TV is because they’re losing. Journalism and the news is at its lowest in history from all the polls. Never believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. This is why Republicans are called the Right. Get it now?

The Democrats have ruined all possibilities of world leaders to ever have phone conversations with any president in the future. Every president has had candid conversations, now its ruined by the most corrupt party in history.

Michael Wood


The Miner’s rightful place

To the Editor:

Thank you for returning The Miner to his rightful place on the masthead of The Union Democrat. What a wonderful and appropriate addition he was when the paper’s owners placed him there in 1938.

However, they also added a couple of touches you might consider returning. “Since 1854” was printed halo-like around The Miner’s head.

And most significantly, the line, “Leading Newspaper of the Mother Lode Country” appeared immediately below the paper’s name. The same corporation responsible for removing The Miner changed that line to “The Mother Lode’s Leading Information Source since 1854.”

In my humble opinion that is not minerspeak. It’s just too 21st century.

Why not return the editors’ proud proclamation that is even truer today as so many newspapers struggle to stay alive. The Union Democrat has grown from a weekly publication to one readers receive five times a week, absorbed all of its local competitors over the years, prospered as The Stockton Record and The Modesto Bee closed their full time local bureaus and goes the distance as the venerable Anador Ledger hangs on with just one edition a week.

How much more “leading” is that?

Sharon Marovich