Not the time to pay down debt

It was interesting to read the preponderance of letters in the Jan. 18 Times that urge a paying down of California's debt.

The authors of those letters seem to believe economics is a simple matter of common sense. If only this were so.

Pandering, however, to their view, consider this: Borrowing costs are, at the moment, unnaturally low. According to their own ideas, the profligate spending from President Barack Obama on down (quite incorrect, of course, because while in office, Obama has dramatically reduced the annual increment) will result in inflation, a rise in the cost of borrowing.

It would seem, therefore, that the sensible time to pay off debt lies in the future, when costs are high, not now, when rates, by comparison, are low.

Now for tax. The turning point in the California budget came very simply: The electorate agreed to an increase of tax on, primarily, the very rich. The latter have benefitted immeasurably in the last few years and the tax increase barely scratches their gains, that have been vastly greater than anything achieved by the middle class.

What Gov. Jerry Brown should be doing is continuing the process of moderately redressing the dramatic inequalities the last decades have brought. Whether he requires further spending, for instance to stimulate the economy (an entirely orthodox view), is a matter for debate -- but if he does, the time to borrow, or equivalently, to maintain debt, is now.

Michael Bloxham

Kensington

Easy multiple choice question

If all the members of our armed forces were sons and daughters of senators or representatives in Congress, how long would it be before all our forces in Afghanistan were reassigned to the United States:

(a) Five Minutes?

(b) Ten minutes?

(c) Fifteen Minutes?

Frederick Shaw

El Cerrito

Inexcusable behavior

Lack of preparation of council meeting minutes by elected Pleasant Hill City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl is inexcusable and has created city liability.

Her comment, "I didn't run for this job to be a stenographer ... I want to make a product that's actually useful," indicates total lack of understanding of city clerk duties.

Government Code Section 40801 requires the city clerk to prepare council meeting minutes and keep them in a book. Apparently, Lehmkuhl is unaware of this law.

We former Certified Municipal City Clerks hold the job of keeper of official city records and city historian sacred. We are appalled by Lehmkuhl's disrespect for the importance of official minutes.

Failure to respond to council and city staff members' requests for minutes reflects an arrogant attitude. Tweeting during council meetings, when she should be taking notes for preparation of minutes, is unprofessional and raises the question of competency.

We recommend her salary be held in escrow until the minutes are completed. If Lehmkuhl is unable or unwilling to carry out her statutory duties, she should resign.

Barbara M. Rivara

Walnut Creek

Jacqueline Bucholz

Albany

Marie McKechnie

Pleasant Hill

Peggy Ezidro

Antioch

Rivara is a retired elected Walnut Creek city clerk; Bucholz a retired Albany city clerk; McKechnie a retired Berkeley city clerk; and Ezidro a retired Pleasanton city clerk.

Self-control or gun control

I am referring to the recent fatal shooting of a texting father in a Florida movie theater.

Smartphone addiction is a common problem in our country, at least in part because it is not yet socially recognized as a problem.

Handgun addiction is a common problem in our country, at least in part because it is not yet politically recognized as a problem.

The smartphone user was rude and selfish. The handgun user was, for at least one moment, insane and murderous.

Waiting for the great mass of us to reliably develop self-control is a fool's errand.

Guns, as physical objects, can be regulated. Self-control, a personal, psychological act recreated each moment by hundreds of millions of us, cannot be reliably regulated.

What if the shooter had been armed with nothing more than the same popcorn supposedly thrown by the rudely texting father of one young girl? Now, how many dead?

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people" ... particularly when they're well armed.

The issue was and is, gun control.

Michael Steinberg

Berkeley

District's waste of electricity

Can anyone explain to me why the West Contra Costa school district has to keep all the lights on in the schools, even at night and during the summer?

Is it so burglars don't need to use a flashlight? Or is it because energy is so cheap and the school district has too much money?

Or is it because someone hates the polar bears and wants to contribute more to climate change and the ever-rising oceans?

Jennifer Rastegar

Richmond

Wood-burning pollution views

Wow! Lately, there has been a barrage of opinions, all adopting the basic seriousness of wood-burning pollution.

Nonsense. Mandating "no burn" days is like mandating "no pennies," i.e., today a penny in the gutter is especially contaminated, so picking it up is subject to a hefty fine.

As humankind defines success and happiness as growth of economies and life spans -- with ever greater water wasting, methane producing, oxygen depleting populations worldwide -- the earth's atmosphere will inevitably become unbreathable and survival will depend either on mutation or unpredictable cataclysms, such as shifting of the polar axis due to gravitational effect of melted ice caps.

But prohibiting the burning of fossil or other fuels to keep warm is like prohibiting sex during winter rainstorms.

Mitch VanBourg

Berkeley

Open burning effects harmful

This letter addresses those who have a hysterical love of open burning in fireplaces.

Ah, the spirituality -- their spirits, not the spirits of those with pulmonary problems, the asthmatics, the people suffering from upper respiratory ailments.

Open burning puts out particles. That's what is smelled and deposited in the lungs, and cause varying degrees of discomfort or suffering. The reasons given for open burning are submerged to the effect on living creatures, in particular, us.

Articles can explain how to prevent that pollution. I'm pretty sure that such methods would also prevent the enthusiasm for watching fire burn; the devices contain the fuel rather than allow viewing and smelling of it.

Well, OK ... I like watching and smelling a fireplace fire, too. However, these are different days so I teach myself not to indulge.

Norma Harrison

Berkeley