Let's have vision to make rail a reality

Your recent editorial citing surveys reflecting second thoughts about high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles was pointless.

How can it reflect the opinions of a population largely lacking any experience with rail travel, much less high-speed rail?

The East Coast has a system that runs frequent, comfortable, electrified and airline-competitive service between Boston and New York. And Amtrak makes a profit, despite having to fight for a place in the national transportation picture.

I've traveled extensively in the Northeast corridor and returned last month from travel in Europe on Dutch, German, Czech and Hungarian seamless international systems that most Americans could hardly imagine.

But there's the rub: In order to imagine it, one must be able to visualize possibilities, which requires the experience most Americans don't have. We are all being blindsided by polling a populace that is unqualified to meaningfully answer questions that are, in effect, hypothetical.

There are constituencies that have been working tirelessly, for their own selfish reasons, against this absolutely necessary addition to California's transportation mix, which should have been built years ago.

Let's have the vision to see it through.

Walter C. Veit

Pleasanton

Sign the petition for ballot measure

The decision of the BART unions to call a strike gives all labor unions a bad name.

They apparently didn't want a fair deal -- they wanted a knockout punch or a pin to the mat. These unions have shown such utter disregard for the public that their right to strike should be outlawed.

Being that too many Sacramento legislators are beholden to the unions and their campaign contributions, the best vehicle to get transit strikes outlawed is probably Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer's petition.

The petition should be signed until it qualifies for the ballot. If it gets on the ballot, despite massive union expenditures to defeat it, it might well pass.

BART management is hardly deserving of sainthood, but the unions have overplayed their hand and have forfeited their right to strike in the future. They should have declared victory weeks ago, but a mere win wasn't enough for them.

Gary Lynch

Berkeley

No budget, no pay; run for re-election

I recently listened to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talk about his take on the budget/debt ceiling stalemate in the House and Senate.

While Netanyahu lauded the U.S. political system in general, his opinion on the debt ceiling quagmire is to do what they do in Israel. If no budget is passed by year's end, all seats are put up for re-election a few months later.

I'll add to that, no pay until re-election. Watch how quickly the budget will be passed in the days leading up to the re-election.

Tom Paradiso

Walnut Creek

Republicans fear success of ACA

If Obamacare is the disaster-in-the-making the Republicans contend, why didn't they delay their program -- government shutdown -- for a year?

By that time, it would have been obvious whether or not their fears were well founded. It would also have coincided with the 2014 congressional elections. So when Obamacare crashed and burned, as they predicted, the GOP would have achieved huge majorities in the House and Senate, thereby being in a position to gut the Affordable Care Act.

The answer, of course, is that what the Republicans fear is not that Obamacare will be a disaster, forever sullying the reputation of their "favorite" president, but that it will succeed.

They see their last best hope in scaring people before folks discover that it actually is better to have national health coverage than not, and that "death panels" are a right-wing fantasy.

That is why they held the entire government hostage, and will do so again in a few months.

Jim Hogan

El Sobrante

A suggestion on new BART hires

In other strike-threatened industries in the United States, where public good and welfare was being compromised by arrogant unions, new-hire employment procedures were adopted.

The existing union contracts were allowed to stand, but contracts for new hires included a no-strike clause and the establishment of a reasonable wage schedule, proper work rules, and moderate employment benefits.

With the huge Bay Area labor pool clamoring to seek BART employment, this suggestion seems to make sense. The short-term union problem would unfortunately persist, but over the long term, the BART system would be returned to the taxpayers who built the system in the first place.

D. Curtis Flynn

Walnut Creek