Government must mitigate inequality

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, we need to consider the following statistics:

In 2005, the median net worth of white households was $134,992. Blacks: $12,124.

In 2009: Whites: $113,149. Blacks: $5,567. (Pew Research Center)

In other words, in 2005, black wealth was 9 percent of white wealth. In 2009, it was 5 percent.

The problem isn't just inferior schools, high unemployment, or even mass incarceration rooted in discriminatory enforcement of the drug laws. The problem goes back to the foundation of this country in the institution of slavery.

After the Civil War, the victims of slavery were never compensated for their centuries of unpaid labor. Instead, blacks were slapped with Jim Crow laws, harshly discriminating against them in housing and employment and restricting their access to capital. The civil rights movement made some headway against this discrimination, but the economic issue has never been addressed.

The United States government needs to provide the resources to the black community to mitigate this grotesque manifestation of inequality.

Henry Hitz

Executive Director Oakland Parents Together

No water for farmers with thirsty crops


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The easiest way to save water is to take it away temporarily from the farmers who grow rice, alfalfa and cotton in a state where it does not rain from May to November.

But you will find that these and other farmers are grandfathered in ridiculous low water rates per acre-foot of water to grow what they want.

But, as always, let's punish the bottom and placate the top.

Steven Ornellas

Fremont

Fremont appears to hate businesses

The city of Fremont hates businesses. I'm writing about the plans to tear down a shopping center in Irvington to build houses. Let's review the past:

A dozen years ago, happy, successful businesses by the railroad track in Centerville were torn down to make room for housing. Who wants to live where train whistles blow in your ears all hours of the night? The whistles didn't bother the businesses.

Next, they took on the job of running out longtime functioning businesses on Fremont Boulevard and Thorton Avenue to build apartments. For a decade now, we get to see the empty lot across from Dale Hardware. But, let's face it, our schools are already overcrowded from too many homes and apartments.

The city officials are overpaid and, with the cost of them playing with these adventures, what is this costing us taxpayers?

Jane Lester

Fremont

Meat industry lobby one of the best around

On the recent occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General's first report on health hazards of cigarette smoking, his office released a report linking smoking to several new chronic diseases.

These include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver and stroke, in additional to the well-known links to lung and oral cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:

  • The chronic diseases linked to both activities and costs of associated medical care and lost productivity are very similar.

  • The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by Surgeon General) and in 1977 (by Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively.

  • The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively.

  • Both activities are discouraged by health advocates and both are declining.

    But there is one important difference: The meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger congressional clout than the tobacco industry. A surgeon general's report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely. Our health remains our personal responsibility.

    Samuel Bentino

    Oakland