Reduce the size of government
President Barack Obama should be congratulated for proposing, and then allowing, the sequestration to take effect.
Reducing the increase in spending for a year would help get the process started in reducing the almost $17 trillion in debt, although the $85 billion in cuts is a drop in the bucket.
Unfortunately, Obama apparently has ordered all of his departments to use the firefighters-first defense: When budgets are cut, inflict the maximum pain on the people by promising to cut firefighters and police officers first.
He has set an example by stopping the tours in the White House to save a grand total of $18,000 a week and disappoint a lot of children who had their hearts set on a White House visit. He could decide not to take a golf vacation in Florida, more than offsetting this small amount, and allow the tours to resume.
Across-the-board cuts appear to be the only way to get government size under control. Let's do more.
Danville should comply with ABAG
I don't know who Michael Arata is to merit a full column in the Times, but his March 17 opinion piece, "ABAG's 'affordable housing' dance ignores Danville concerns," is not worthy of the free space the Times gave him.
Arata's paranoia about U.N. conspiracies and his characterizing affordable housing supporters as "socialists and watermelon environmentalists (green outside, red inside)" is unprofessional, at best.
I take exception to his comment that "Danville residents are rightly concerned about the impacts on schools, traffic and crime rates." While these are worthy issues, it is elitist and arrogant to think other cities don't have similar concerns and should pick up the slack for affordable housing.
State and local laws require that housing growth, including affordable housing, be distributed, with severe penalties for not complying.
Danville has an obligation to ensure that people who work in Danville, such as teachers, clerks and gardeners, can afford to live in Danville and not clog freeways getting there. More important, Danville's children and grandchildren should be able to afford to live there, too.
Let's compare vacation days
In 2001, FEMA ranked a major hurricane strike on New Orleans "among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country," directly behind a terrorist strike on New York City.
When terrorists were attacking our nation on 9/11, President George W. Bush was wrapping up his first vacation. When Katrina struck, Bush was on vacation. Bush holds the record for longest consecutive vacation: five weeks.
Vacation-wise, compared with Bush, President Barack Obama is a piker. Obama spent 84 days on vacation in his first term. Bush vacationed for 1,020 days in his two terms, using Air Force One 77 times to fly to his Texas ranch.
He spent five times more on flights to Texas than Obama has to Hawaii: 487 days at Camp David; 490 at the ranch; 43 at Kennebunkport.
Bush's inattention is the reason we needed spending measures to save the economy, which lost 4 million jobs in Bush's last year, leaving the United States $10.7 trillion in debt.
What's really behind the complaints about Obama's two-day golf round with Tiger Woods? Just politics or something more? As Bush might say, "That dog don't hunt." Please, give it a vacation.
Sam Van Zandt
Telecommuting is a better way
Leonard Pitts recently pointed out that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is requiring employees to report to the office.
Obviously, Mayer knows more about her business than I, but in 1988 I worked on a project at home Tuesdays and Thursdays for 24 weeks. I drove from Concord to San Ramon the rest of the week.
In those days, I wasn't connected to the "office" by the Internet but carried my work, on floppy disks, back and forth. I didn't need to be "at the office" to get the job done.
I was actually more productive those two days at home than the three days at the office, where I had to deal with memos, phone calls and generally unproductive meetings. Nowadays, most of that can be handled wherever you're able to get online.
Why are people required to report to an office? Why aren't we working to get the jobs closer to people and stop commuting on expensive roads and bridges. Cut gasoline usage and lost hours on the road.
If you can't trust your employee to work productively at home, trying to ensure they're productive at the office isn't the answer.