Buffett, Obama in cahoots?

Lets see if we can understand this one ... An excess of petroleum products in the Dakotas, no refineries there, but plans to move them to refineries elsewhere via the as-yet-unbuilt Keystone Pipeline.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad not doing so well ... Warren Buffett gives major donation to President Obama, then purchases BNSF at a low price. Obama prevents any consideration of construction of the pipeline; BNSF transports the petroleum products to the refineries and prospers financially. Any connection between these events?

Clair Weenig

Walnut Creek

'The Orchards' should improve quality of life

As residents of the Woodlands neighborhood, my family would like to thank the Walnut Creek City Council for approving The Orchards at Walnut Creek, Safeway's project slated for the Shadelands Business Park.

For years, area residents have driven past the empty lot currently occupying the corner where this project will be developed, hoping that something would be built that would actually increase our quality of life. Finally, after a three-year public process and countless hearings and meetings, the city has allowed Safeway to move forward with a project that will include a new larger Safeway plus shops, restaurants, a community stage and meeting area, and a children's park -- all amenities that our neighborhood families can utilize to gather and will make our Northgate community even stronger. We hope the city quickly approves the project's remaining administrative items so the Northgate area of Walnut Creek can soon have the lifestyle center it wants and deserves.


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Karen Brajkovich

Walnut Creek

Payback plan has flaws

The latest plan of President Obama to reduce the payback obligation of student loans will have an unintended effect that will cost the taxpayers a lot of additional money.

He limits the total amount that the students are responsible for to 10 percent of their after-tax income for 20 years (10 years for government workers). Using average salaries for college graduates of $50,000 and an average total tax rate of 20 percent, one can determine that the maximum amount of payback required is $80,000 or $40,000, respectively. This means that once these dollar amounts have been reached, there are no obstacles for students to continue to borrow more money as the remaining amount will be paid by the federal government.

Colleges will certainly know this and can, therefore, raise their costs without limit because they know the taxpayers will cover any amount above this. A simple plot of availability of federal funds versus college costs will show a 1-to-1 correlation; that is, as more money is available, costs go up. When I was taking a class using the GI bill, the amount of money per unit payable was raised by the feds; within two weeks, I received a notice that the cost/unit for me was increasing by almost the same amount.

One simple college plan is to charge tuition for three years of $80,000 and then for the senior year $100,000 or more as they know the feds will pay the additional amount. Again, this is another federal plan passed without paying any attention to common sense. Many economists think the amount of outstanding student loans will be the next big bailout.

This latest action will increase the likelihood of this happening.

Roger Stone

Walnut Creek