Wars not fought for our freedoms
Stanley J. Grogan, whose letter was in the July 24 Times, should ponder the late Major Gen. Smedley Butler's 1933 speech, where he declared: "War is just a racket ... conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses."
Butler, a Marine, spent his career protecting the interests of American oil, sugar, industry and banking on three continents and called himself "a gangster for capitalism."
Soldiers don't pay for or defend our freedoms. They serve the state and fight its wars for the interests of finance-capital and the military-industrial complex and never ask the question, "How does killing faraway foreigners protect our freedoms here?" The answer is, it doesn't. These arrogant misadventures just destroy other people, their lands and their futures.
Our freedoms result not from the state the soldiers fight for but from those willing to defy state authority and resist its encroachments on those freedoms.
None of our wars abroad had a thing to do with defending our freedoms here at home. For protecting your freedoms, thank courageous journalists, civil rights workers, Wobblies, whistle-blowers, demonstrators and the ACLU.
Statewide pension reform is a must
Your editorial on July 15 ("We all share blame in city
Elected officials vote for pay, benefits and pensions that are irresponsible because they are serving their interest, not the best interest of the people of their community.
That is, they support union pay issues in return for campaign contributions. Unions then negotiate wages with the officials they have "bought." Taxpayers are not at the table, and we always lose.
Your conclusion is naive in that the unions have shown little inclination to make concessions. The few concessions they have made are trivial, at best. One only needs to look at the contracts recently signed with police unions in Antioch, Brentwood, Livermore, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, among others.
In Brentwood, for example, police agreed to eventually pay 9 percent of their pension costs, leaving the city with "only" 27.349 percent of the cost. And city officials then gave the employees a 9 percent pay increase, effectively putting the entire cost back on city residents.
The relationship between unions and elected officials is unsustainable, as are the results. We need statewide reform now.
Our country too lazy to get needed skills
The H-1B labor report shown in the Times tells us there were more than 325,000 applications by American companies for foreign workers with "specialized" skills that American workers do not have. If the monthly jobs report showed an additional 325,000 jobs, it would be touted as a great sign for our economy.
Why do Americans not have these skills? I believe it is because we cannot be bothered to get the skills. We would rather go to party schools and take fluff courses to get an emblematic "college degree" that results in no marketable skill. This keeps unemployment, even among college graduates, high.
At the other end of the jobs spectrum, the jobs that require only a willingness to work are also filled by foreign workers. High school dropouts whose unemployment rate is huge could do these jobs, but we cannot be bothered going out and getting them.
If our society is willing to pay to have work done, we should get the skills to do it, and be proud of our contribution to the common good.
Fred W. Donecker
Hayashi thumbing nose at voters
It never ceases to amaze me what our politicians try to pull. Mary Hayashi has the unmitigated gall to announce a run for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors vacated by the equally disgraced Nadia Lockyer.
Because I own property in Hayashi's district and my parents reside there, I am very interested in the future of that area.
Like it or not, shoplifting is a felony. It is stealing. Hayashi tried to circumvent this with her sorry excuses. The judge who allowed her to plead to a misdemeanor should be confronted. That is a clear violation of our laws. Hayashi is doing nothing but thumbing her nose at voters. Does she really think they are that stupid?
It is time to defeat pancreatic cancer
Sally Ride, an American icon, is the latest well-known person to succumb to pancreatic cancer, a disease which also killed my wife of 40 years.
Of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, only 6 percent will live more than five years, a statistic that has not changed in four decades.
Researchers and doctors have made huge strides in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many kinds of cancer. It's time that we dedicate ourselves to making true progress in the fight against pancreatic cancer.