Equitable tax rates needed

Now that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's stated ambition -- to prevent President Obama from getting a second term -- has been thwarted by the will of the people, he should get down from his high horse and stop blaming the president for the inability of Congress to compromise or get anything done.

As a retired person living on a fixed income, who pays federal income tax at a higher rate than privileged multimillionaire Mitt Romney, it is essential that tax rates be raised on the superrich in order to restore equity to the system.

In addition to raising rates, there is plenty that can be done to eliminate unjustified tax loopholes. If Congress cannot agree to fix the inequities in the tax system, then I am all in favor of going over the fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff legislation is something that, wonder of wonders, Congress actually agreed on and voted for. Let's go over the cliff and let Congress work to correct its folly retroactively.

P.J. Langley

El Cerrito

Democrats bankrupted us

A Democratic supermajority in Sacramento is the final nail in our California economic coffin.


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During the last 30 years, Democratic taxes and regulations on our industries, businesses and the wealthy (who create our private sector jobs) forced them to go bankrupt or move out of the state.

Big money government union leaders rule in our state, counties and cities. They take money from government union employees and elect Democrats. Elected officials and government union officials create contracts and the government union members vote on them.

They call it collective bargaining, but they are liars. We taxpayers can't vote on the contracts that cost us twice the money that is fair for lavish government union salaries, benefits, pensions, and early retirement.

Democrats have bankrupted us. Proposition 32 would have helped us a little, but it failed.

One good thing is that our retail businesses have done well because government union employees and retirees, welfare recipients, and the rest of us keep spending all our money and food stamps on stuff.

Ella Jensen

El Cerrito

CEQA requires drastic reform

As a civil engineer and environmentalist, I agree with the recent Times editorial calling for reform of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), although reform seems like an understatement to describe what's needed.

I have worked on projects in Contra Costa County for a total of 12 years and have time and again come across people with little experience enforcing regulations they can't explain and defend.

Most notorious are the Department of Fish and Game, requiring expensive mitigation of streams that don't have and never had fish, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, mandating subdivisions be allowed to flood instead of bypassed and that roof runoff be filtered.

Recently, I noticed the new guidelines for stormwater control are as thick as the phone book for a medium-sized city and require a specialist just to understand them. This will place a substantial cost burden on private properties, industries and municipalities.

As I mentioned, my views are sympathetic to the environment and the idea that some form of CEQA was needed back in the 1970s, but we in California have created a bureaucratic Frankenstein monster that needs to be drastically curtailed in scope and budget, but especially scope.

Wayne Curt Huber

Berkeley

Supports vote on Palestine

I am a Jew who supports the U.N. decision to recognize a Palestinian state.

Media polls that have self-selecting responders are ridiculous. Non-random sample polls do not reflect public opinion, but the opinion of whomever has the time and interest to respond. Even many statistically driven random sample polls are subject to the biases of the information in the media (sometimes censored or incomplete).

The current poll you are running on the U.N. vote granting Palestine official observer status suffers in both respects.

For many decades, some of us have been pressuring the media to present a more accurate and balanced representation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression by an occupying army.

Now a corner has been turned, with most of the world's nations putting themselves on record and some U.S. media (including the Bay Area News Group chain) recognizing that past censorship has to be loosened.

I congratulate your papers for that newfound independence, but I point out that your poll is little more than a safety valve to vent Zionist anger and a lack of understanding that Zionism's unilateralism is ending.

Dr. Marc Sapir

Berkeley

Cheap solution to air problem

A recent news report regarding Chevron said that the problem, according to environmental analysts, was that only two of eight air-quality monitoring stations in the area are in Richmond and none is at the refinery.

This has been "the problem" for years and years. And nothing has been done.

What, besides hand-wringing and crocodile tears, can we expect from Chevron this time around?

What a cheap solution for not getting caught at poisoning the air, just don't monitor it!

Gwynn O'Neill

Richmond

Supermajority a disaster for us

The Democratic Party supermajority in our state Legislature will be an absolute disaster.

The Democrats have already devastated our state by doing everything the big-money government union employees have wanted -- big salaries, outrageous benefits and working conditions, and early and grandiose pensions that have bankrupted each of our 58 counties, our cities and our struggling state.

Why did we allow these violent big-money union bullies to bankrupt us? We voted for Democrats.

The powerful government unions take money from all government union employees and elect senators, assembly members, supervisors and city council members who give the unions billions of dollars, resulting in bankruptcy.

Union members vote to approve their contracts, but we taxpayers cannot vote for these outrageous contracts. We have hundreds of state agencies and thousands of county and city agencies full of money-grubbing government employees who have bankrupted our wonderful state. They are the ruling class.

Proposition 32 could have helped us a little, but the union liars convinced the voters to vote it down.

One good thing: The rich union members spend their money, buy cars and help create low-wage jobs at retail markets and stores.

Sidney Steinberg

Berkeley