Strengthening labor improves status quo

The front page of this paper's Labor Day edition reported that earnings for California workers in the middle and lower classes have fallen 4 to 6 percent behind the rate of inflation since 2006.

On the same page, a columnist told BART workers to accept all the pension and health insurance takeaways BART management wants. Since other middle-class workers have accepted rotten deals, the unionized BART workers should, too, or so the columnist said.

That opinion does hold a sort of diabolical logic, unless you believe the steady undermining of our workers should stop.

The Labor Day editorial honored the American workforce while avoiding the words "union," "collective bargaining," and "organized workers." The editorial did point out that "American workers still lead the world in productivity."

So, our workforce is unmatched, American corporations are holding more profits than ever, but the vast majority of workers are falling behind. Perhaps this paper should have dropped its anti-union ideology on Labor Day and conceded that a strong labor movement would improve the awful status quo.

Doug Jones

San Leandro

Mayor right about blood-donor ban

I would like to commend Campbell Mayor Evan Low for pressuring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to end the discriminatory ban on blood donations from gay men.

Last year, our organization submitted a resolution that was adopted by the California Medical Association, and subsequently adopted this past June by the American Medical Association, calling on the FDA to end the ban once for all.

As physicians, we recognize that patient safety must always be the primary determinant of who can donate blood, but the current lifetime ban on gay male blood donors is no longer appropriate or reflective of current scientific knowledge.

Instead, we believe the FDA should develop policies that are nondiscriminatory and based on individual risk, instead of being based solely on sexual orientation.

Jeffrey Klingman, M.D.

President Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association Oakland

Israeli democracy is the writer's creation

An Aug. 30 letter proclaims that Israel is a democracy. If only that were true.

By law and design it is a Jewish state, a concept antithetical to democracy. Most non-Jewish residents were forced to flee in 1948, and neither they nor their descendants are free to return without permission. The non-Jews who do remain have far fewer rights than Jewish residents as a matter of law and a matter of practice.

Additionally, the letter ignores the 45-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank where there isn't even a pretense of democratic rights for non-Jews. And in the last two decades, 600,000 Jewish settlers have seized territory and the Israelis have lacerated the territory with a 430-mile wall, tactics designed to strengthen Israeli control.

Tragically, Israel's actions show it to be not a beacon of democracy, but rather an outpost of racism and colonialism.

Larry Hendel

Berkeley

Profit model fatal flaw in Obamacare

There is a good reason that the controversy over Obamacare has not died away. There has been a fundamental flaw in the provision of health care in the United States for about two decades. That flaw is that the business model of health care can be based on a profit model.

There is only one ethical option to Obamacare, and that is to follow the lead of England, Canada, and other socialist countries. That option is commonly known as a "single-payer system." Obamacare should be overthrown, and it needs to be replaced with modified Medicare provided to all of us.

It is simply unethical to conceptualize frail elderly and vulnerable children, not to mention the rest of us, as participants in a system that can generate a profit.

Elizabeth Preston

Oakland