More than one kind of bullying

Recent news reports indicate that bullying young people while using social media can have deadly consequences. The press acts as if this is a new phenomenon precipitated by the advent of the Internet.

In fact, media bullying has been around at least as long as advertising has. An economy based on consumption is dependent on compulsive spending. Unbridled consumption is predicated upon discontented consumers.

The advertising industry creates unhappy consumers through ubiquitous psychological assaults. This negative indoctrination starts with toddlers and doesn't stop until the day we die.

I consider this advertising assault to be an insidious form of bullying. Madison Avenue advertising firms are as malevolent as any bully in the schoolyard. Their job is to increase corporate profits by destroying our mental health and our financial well-being.

These corporate shills thrive off our unhappiness the same way childhood bullies enjoy making other children outcasts.

We are human beings, not rats in a maze. The right to uncontaminated mental health is a human right. We all have the right to be free from bullies.

Charles T. Smith

Richmond

No substitutes for firefighters

On Sept. 12, columnist Tom Barnidge described Contra Costa Fire District's financial problems. He featured Bill Prather, a director for the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District.

With a word limitation on letters, it's difficult to explain all the errors in Prather's thinking.

Prather implies 98 percent of calls are medical, which means only 2 percent are for fires. That's grossly incorrect, even for his own tiny department. Medical responses appeared to be his main concern and firefighting seemed a "sideline."

Prather suggests two-person crews, perhaps using college kids as cheap volunteer labor. True, volunteers work well as an adjunct to a firefighter, but not a substitute. Firefighters' responsibilities are a lot more complicated now than they were during Prather's tenure.

A well-equipped pumper apparatus with a crew of at least three is needed for all responses. Once they complete a call, they can immediately be dispatched via radio to respond again to any emergency. What would Prather do with two fires at once?

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I suggest Prather research the thousands of actual working fire departments. He can then report back with examples of what actually works.

Jeff Davis

Lafayette Davis is a retired Oakland Fire Department captain, with 31 years experience.

Large-scale voting fraud debunked

I've been fact checking Jacqueline Cloidt's comments on voting fraud in her Sept. 13 letter.

Her statement, "In Colorado, 5,000 illegal immigrants voted," is incorrect. Colorado's Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler, told Congress his numbers were wrong. Only 106 individuals were found improperly registered to vote.

Mitt Romney did receive some votes in the 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia. He just wasn't popular there.

ACORN has been gone since 2010. Accused by the "right" in 2008-09, the court found them not guilty.

Ohio's Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, said voting fraud in Ohio is rare. He said maybe there were 19 instances in the last presidential election.

People must read newspapers, watch C-Span and use reliable sources of information -- not just Fox and far-right websites. Republicans must stop thinking the government only belongs to them and God's only on their side.

Democrats won the White House fair and square, without all this supposed "fraud." If Republicans have the most votes next time, they might get it back -- but not if they use dirty tricks and continue hurting the jobless, the poor and women.

Joanne Oertwig

Brentwood

Don't implement Plan Bay Area

I do not want Plan Bay Area to be implemented because it will limit my freedom of choosing the kind of community I want to live in.

You really think people will give up driving and will want to live in high-density housing like what we see in Dublin? And do you think it will improve air quality? No.

Let Livermore be in charge of Livermore.

Betty Ellis

Livermore