Transparency victim in twin tunnel plan
This newspaper's recent investigation into government transparency, "A peek into the soul of self-interested government," Feb. 2, unfortunately should not be limited to Caltrans.
Public review of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan and its twin tunnels project is being limited, first by compressing review of 40,000 pages to just 120 days and now by eliminating public access to formal comments submitted online.
The open, online public comment process is a modern e-town hall and normally is common agency practice. State agencies, however, now are withholding all comments until after the review period ends. With the future of the Bay-Delta Estuary and tens of billions in costs at stake, we can do better.
Please write the governor at www.gov.ca.gov and demand immediate posting of all received BDCP comment letters on the BDCP website. Please also ask that the review period be extended an additional 120 days to allow for careful consideration of the tens of thousands of pages that represent the well-being of California's water lifeline.
Executive director Earth Law Center Fremont
Retirement is scary in current economy
I happen to be one of those people on Social Security and Medicare. Talk of cuts makes us senior citizens feel that we are being kicked to the curb.
When it comes to cutting from the wealthy and from those who are supposed to be working for the citizens of our country, we can hear the waterfall of tears. All this comes from senators and such who think more of their own welfare than that of the people they are supposed to be working for. It's time to stop all the perks they get.
My health insurance keeps going up -- not just a little, but a lot. I have cut back on a lot of things but still am spending more. The raise I got on Social Security was a joke in this terrible economy and in no way is keeping up with it.
Maybe you can explain why we have enough money to care for all the illegal immigrants who have invaded our county but don't have enough money for our own citizens. It sounds very fishy to me and makes no sense. If you are thinking of retiring, you should think again.
Incurring more debt is the wrong course
A recent letter arguing against paying down California's debt now is yet another example of why economics should be a required course in high schools and colleges.
The letter writer contends that Gov. Jerry Brown should use the proceeds of the recent tax increase to "redress the dramatic inequalities of the last decade" and, since interest rates are low, should borrow more to do this or at least maintain debt at current levels.
The writer is oblivious to the fact that government deficits occur and debt increases during recessions and, if they are not paid down in better times, we would enter a debt spiral that can only end in disaster.
When -- not if -- interest rates return to their historically higher levels, debt will increase just from refinancing existing maturities, not to mention additional deficits and debt incurred at that time because we would undoubtedly still be "redressing dramatic inequalities."
The letter writer completely ignores the substantial unfunded liabilities California has in the form of pension obligations and costs of the expanded Medicaid program, which aren't even reflected in the debt numbers.
One action to reduce expenditures that the majority of Californians seem to agree on is to eliminate unnecessary programs such as the high-speed rail system. Doing this would provide more funds to pay down debt and reduce the growth of additional debt, and perhaps even have some left over for redressing inequalities.