Spare the Air program not plot, is needed
I am appalled at the Talk Back results and most of the letters published in Saturday's paper. These people must live in the sparsely populated woods and outside the area supported by PG&E. I ask those who are against the Spare the Air program and live in the residential areas of our Bay Area cities to take a walk around the block on a holiday night. If it turns out to be a non-Spare the Air day you won't make it. The air is so thick with smoke and pollutants you won't like what you're breathing. The further you walk, the more oxygen you'll need. It won't be available.
As to the number of government conspiracies mentioned I am flabbergasted. This is the Bay Area isn't it? The land of free and reasonable thinkers? I felt like I was reading the Nebraska News. Two thirds of the respondents think the Spare the Air program is a government conspiracy. Flabbergasted.
Leo M. Mara
Suspect does, in fact, belong on wanted list
About the Dec. 27 letter "Shouldn't be on the FBI Most Wanted list," while the writer of this letter is correct that there were no injuries and minimal property damage, they conveniently left out some of the facts.
There is no such thing as a minor bomb. Daniel San Diego is suspected of being involved in bombings in Emeryville and Pleasanton in 2003. At each location two bombs were set off. The second bomb at each was set to go off one hour after the first bomb to cause death or injuries to responding police and firefighters. This last fact cannot be denied, as the second bombs had nails attached to them.
As far as the writer whining about no balanced news coverage on this, what was the headline of the article supposed to say -- "Bombs set off to kill people to stop animal research facilities?" If anybody belongs on the FBI Most Wanted list, it is Daniel San Diego. I am an animal lover myself but believe the pen is mightier than the sword.
Protection from riot mobs really was necessary
In his letter published Jan. 6, James Snyder claimed that "in the 237-year history of our nation, there have been zero incidents in which a homeowner was confronted by 15 to 25 burglars all at the same time, which is probably the only conceivable situation where a civilian would ever have a legitimate need for such weapons" (machine guns, that is).
But I can think of several situations in which business owners had occasion to protect their establishments from mobs of 15 or more during riots, most recently in South Central Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots. That it was business owners rather than just homeowners makes no difference. So, Snyder himself makes the case for protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to own such weapons (though not convicted felons or people who are clearly mentally ill).
'Machine guns' claim a distortion
In response to a Jan. 6 letter claiming people are upset that they can't legally buy "machine guns" as written by James Snyder in the Times, this is another baseless try to sensationalize the debate on guns and gun control.
"Machine guns" have effectively been outlawed since 1934 by the federal government and are regulated by the ATF with restrictions as to registration and sale. Approximately 240,000 "machine guns" are legally owned in the country, of which half are in the hands of law enforcement. The rest are owned by private citizens and registered.
There are no records for illegal guns as they are "illegal." There have been only two deaths attributed to "machine guns" in the last 80 years. Also AR-15's are not "machine guns" and are legal by federal law and classified as "semi-automatic" weapons, as they can't fire automatically as "machine guns" can. Also, the Second Amendment protects us all.
Public-sector unions giving us a raw deal
Union leaders such as Peter Nguyen (Dec. 20 op-ed writer) often invoke the phrase, "race to the bottom" in rejecting stark contrasts between public- and private-sector health and retirement benefits.
As a liberal, I'm supposed to cheer that line. But a more apt metaphor is this. When former Gov. Gray Davis increased already very generous pension accrual rates by half, it was a run for the gold and a raid on limited resources.
We shouldn't demonize public employees for receiving pay and benefits that are commensurate with their skills and experience and the value they provide. Unfortunately, the "collective bargaining" mentioned by Nguyen has no counterpart in private-sector labor-management relations. It is quid pro quo collusion between elected officials and unions. "Shareholders" have no seat at the table. This fraudulent "collective bargaining" dance needs to be reformed.
What do we "shareholders" get out of the deal? Fewer police, shuttered fire stations, lousy roads, gutted public assistance programs and frequent BART breakdowns due to aging equipment. What's liberal about that?
Time to settle national debt
Most people understand that borrowed money must eventually be repaid. The same fundamental truth applies to our federal government. For decades, elected officials have borrowed so that they could spend beyond our means. It is now time to settle accounts.
Our government has accumulated more than $17 trillion of debt. With roughly 100 million taxpaying households in our nation, this works out to about $170,000 per household.
This year, each taxpayer should receive a bill for their fair share of the debt. Presidents and Congress members past and present should be the first to open their personal checkbooks since they created the mountain of debt in the first place. All other taxpayers are complicit by their failure to demand fiscally responsible government.
Paying off the debt will be a bitter pill to swallow, but one that will also deliver the valuable lesson that there is no such thing as a "free lunch." Our government will never again be allowed to accumulate debt, and a balanced-budget constitutional amendment will become the law of the land.
Contribution scam's legal implications
About Nancy Farber's "charitable donations," I totally agree with your assessment of the ethics of Ms. Farber's contributions, but I have another issue: who took the tax deduction for her "contributions?"
If she did, while reimbursed, I question the legality of that. The ethical issue might not be the end of the story.