Teens responsible need a lesson

The two teenage boys who have been charged with arson in the Sept. 17 fire at the Antioch tot lot playground should have, as part of their punishment/penalty, the "sweat equity" of helping to rebuild the playground.

Maybe that would teach them a lesson, as well as instill some pride in their town.

Lynn Brear

Walnut Creek

Thomas Sowell has lack of joy

I am referring to Thomas Sowell's Dec. 28 column, "Know-it-alls are ruining what works in U.S."

Poor Sowell. I must be in the wrong media bubble, because I missed the war on Christmas and I had a very enjoyable season.

Sowell should shed the bitterness of his column. Not everyone who disagrees with him is "ignorant," "intolerant," "cruel," "warped," or a "damned fool."

And as for the idea that "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent," all I can say is, "No, it's not."

I missed the war on Christmas. Sowell missed Christmas.

John Erickson

Richmond

Disgusting signs are un-American

I'm a 73-year-old white woman who pays close attention to politics.

When I pass signs depicting President Barack Obama as Hitler, I feel sick. While we're entitled to our opinions, what happened to respect for the office of the presidency of the United States?

People displaying those despicable signs are poor losers and shameful Americans, and their message is lost in their un-American presentation. I immediately think of the Ku Klux Klan. Racism still runs deep in our country, no matter how it's covered up.

These hate groups want Obama impeached, citing their latest reason as the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three State Department personnel in Benghazi, claiming the White House is covering up. I'm sure the terrible Benghazi debacle will get sorted out and measures will be taken to ensure better protection of our diplomats.

But where were these groups when our country waged war on Iraq -- killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of our military men and women -- based on lies told to us and Congress by President George W. Bush and his friends? Why didn't they call for the impeachment of Bush?

Republicans, Libertarians or Democrats -- this is not how to get your point across to sensible people. If you want change, use your vote.

Joanne Oertwig

Brentwood

Government fiscal policy

Steve Butler's recent column, "More than happy to pay my share," was rather astounding considering his usual scholarly analysis.

The Social Security program started in 1935 when Franklin Roosevelt was president. The payroll tax was 2 percent. In 1983, under President Ronald Reagan, payroll taxes increased to 10.8 percent.

These payroll deductions are deposited into a "trust fund" that earns interest to pay for benefits that now exceed the amount of interest the fund earns -- despite increasing the ceiling of earned income that is subject to the deductions and the age you can receive the benefits.

The trust fund that pays the benefits is not money in the bank. It is an intergovernmental debt recently representing $4.8 trillion of the $15.7 trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.

That means the government spent our Social Security payroll deductions and we are supposed to trust our legislators that we will receive the benefits we paid for.

Having read Butler's column for years, I thought he had a healthy skepticism of government fiscal policy and that he understood math.

Randy Rasmussen

Moraga