Census survey is important

In her Dec. 20 letter in the Voice, Kathe Jordan expressed her concern about the American Community Survey (ACS) and its intrusiveness.

ACS data inform policy-makers, researchers and those responsible for governmental budgets who and what is in need of service, including providing public schools, putting in street lights, or building courts.

It can reveal who is slipping through the cracks, as our economy shifts from a manufacturing, to a service, to an information society. It provides data to businesses on how and where to invest and develop jobs.

The ACS helps everyone in our country, because otherwise we would essentially be driving blind. Formerly known as the "long form" in the census (required by the Constitution), the ACS is more cost-effective.

Responding to the survey is required by law to make sure we hear from all Americans. All questions asked are scrutinized for policy value.

While an individual citizen may not see the purpose of any particular question, such as dividends or highest attained degree, there are people who do. All free, civil, democratic societies have high quality census and survey systems.

Leora Lawton

Berkeley

Privatize BART and save money

The BART and government union bullies are the coffin nails that will drive our Bay Area cities and counties into hopeless bankruptcy.

We should sell BART to a private company. Right now, half of the BART income is from our property tax payments -- about $200 million per year. If we offered a private company $100 million per year to take over BART and allowed "new BART" to fire all the present, greedy union employees, use all the facilities for a minimum fee (say $100,000 per year), "new BART" could hire a union-free staff for half the price, with a no-strike contract with all "new BART" employees.

"New BART" could charge 10 percent less to us riders to begin with, and only be allowed to charge increases if the present BART board agreed. We could save $100 million per year and have cheaper tickets, friendlier employees, and more reliable transportation.

Do the math.

Sidney Steinberg

Berkeley

Family grateful for Obamacare

I want people to know about the excellent service we've received in signing up our youngest daughter for health care under Covered California. We have nothing but praise for the program.

Our daughter just turned 26 so she no longer is on our health plan. We wanted to make sure she got health care insurance and worked with her to sign her up.

We had a problem initially that we ourselves inadvertently caused when we got on line. We had excellent service in resolving the problem and signing her up.

We got through to a courteous and knowledgeable representative in 15 minutes. Not only did that fellow spend the time with us to figure out what the problem was, he then helped us to redo our application to make sure the same problem would not occur again.

The experience was positive and contrary to the way the Republicans have portrayed it.

We now have our daughter signed up. If we did not have Obamacare, I don't know what we would have done. Before Obamacare, an individual policy for her would have been prohibitively expensive as would have been covering her on COBRA under our employer health care plan.

I do know we would have paid for insurance coverage, because even a young person can have a serious accident or contract a terminal illness.

Thank goodness for the Affordable Care Act.

Norman La Force

El Cerrito

Sexting can lead to STDs

The Times' recent article, "Do you know if your teen is 'sexting'?" caught us by surprise.

The article stated, "The study surveyed 498 U.S. adolescents aged between 15 and 18 years, finding that most teens sext for attention, to lower the chances of catching STDs, and to find a romantic partner."

Although we do believe adolescents sext for attention, we do not feel it is to lower the chances of catching sexually transmitted diseases or to find a romantic lover.

We disagree that teenagers sext to lower the chance of catching STDs, because teenagers today are not cautious or worried about the consequences. They are more focused with the crowd they are associated with and doing whatever it takes to fit in; that is where the pressure lies to receive attention.

From what we have been exposed to, sexting leads teenagers to have sexual intercourse, which can expose them to STDs. Females are often pressured to send photos of themselves, believing that they will receive romance in return.

We feel it is very important for teenagers to stay mindful of what sexting can lead to.

Sreyneang Lim

Cristina Gonzalez

El Cerrito

Grace Saelee

Richmond

The authors of this letter are students at Contra Costa College.

Victimhood, poor test scores

I am referring to a recent column in the Times by Thomas Sowell, "Research challenges ingrained beliefs on victimhood."

I totally agree with Sowell that victimhood is a huge, if not the only factor, that comes into play when it comes to poor test scores.

Children who are told they can never be anything important usually don't even make the attempt. There definitely seems to be a correlation between the poor scoring of low-income whites of England and the poor scoring of low-income black students in the United States.

Victimhood of the lower classes seems to be the link. It is very important, through all stages of life, to receive positive reactions to our struggle for greatness. Being told the people you relate to in society all do poorly does not help you do well on tests.

The subconscious mind can be treacherous and can sometimes sabotage us on our journey through life. Some of us begin with a trap already set around our ankles.

Patrick Ramos

Pinole