Pension tax makes no sense at all

I don't want to rain on any one's parade, but I am befuddled as to why I and others who earned their pensions in New York state and other states where they are not taxed on their pensions must pay California state taxes on their pensions. In addition, I recently learned that our recipient of the latest Mega Million $600,000,000 plus jackpot does not have to pay any state taxes on the winnings. I've lived in California for almost twenty years and have paid my fair share in state taxes on my pension. However, the aforementioned tax distribution policy really adds insult to injury. Perhaps someone could explain to me the rationale for such a ludicrous and inexplicable tax policy.

John Kabat

Danville

BART should be privatized; ban striking

Whether it's the fault of incompetent negotiators (Jan. 7 letters) or greedy unions, we would not be in the mess with BART if it weren't owned and controlled by the government.

Government systems crowd out private enterprise transit and force taxpayers to pay the bill. Many dangers arise when government owns transportation. First is high cost and inefficiency. We certainly are seeing that as we see the greedy hands of the BART unions. Second, taxing private transportation and redistributing the funds to public transportation is a clear example of wealth redistribution, a Marxist tenet. Freedom to travel is as important a right as a free press. Media and movement are the primary means of spreading ideas and information.

Everyone knows that BART employees are paid far more than their counterparts in the private sector. The state Legislature should make it illegal for them to strike.

Joan Hamblin

Danville

Don't let plants die

Only two things on earth are alive, plants and animals. If a plant wilts, a bit of water, and it may perk up. But if the plant is DEAD, no amount of care will bring it back. Nobody comes back from DEAD -- nobody ....

Joe Vance Rudiger

San Ramon

Will off-base on owning Chevy Volts

I have enjoyed George Will's column in the past as he is usually thoughtful in his comments. His comments about the Chevy Volt and their owners were off-base: he stated that purchasing a Volt is an empty gesture, President Obama and his liberal horde should recognize that consumers prefer Ford F150 trucks and subsidizing electric cars is a waste.

Well, I am one of the owners of a Chevy Volt and have driven it 20,000 miles this year. In that time I have used 120 gallons of gas. Most of the miles are powered by electricity, and the solar panels on our roof supply that power. Had I chosen a Ford F150, I would have burned 1,000 gallons of gas. I believe that it is critically important to our country that we become energy-independent, and I believe that my actions, and all of our actions, matter. The Volt and cars similar to it are expensive, but as more people purchase them the cost will decrease. It is appropriate for our government to create incentives to further the process. The question I have for George Will is: what have you done?

Bill Bay

Danville

Colorblind meritocracy what we need

Regarding the Jan. 12 "Diversity in Academia' article, I read it and thought to myself, "Why not insist on physical diversity on the football, basketball and swimming teams? I see no dwarfs or disabled people on the sports teams. I see only men: tall and muscular.

Winning is what sports teams want, and I am thinking we want the best and the brightest for our university professors as well. In the ethnic breakdown of the campuses we see Asians as the largest group at UC Berkeley. They are not the majority 'group' of people in the state and yet they seem to be the biggest recipient of admissions. Should we say 'no' to them because of their disproportional numbers or should we offer admission to those who have earned a place without prejudice? As you may guess I go with the "earn" criteria. Enough is enough! Let's really be a colorblind society as Martin Luther King called for.

Jo-Ann Jacobson

Alamo

Patriotic hat -- "made in China"

My husband and I were excited to attend the San Francisco gun show event on Jan. 11, as it would be our first gun show. Neither of us was aware of how many vendors would attend or what the atmosphere would be like. The local reviews were sketchy at best and portrayed a flea market-type setting with vendors who had little to do with guns.

Upon arrival, a gentleman asked us if we would like to have our admittance ticket paid for if we joined the National Rifle Association. This organization established in 1871 is known to represent our Constitutional rights and has the wealth to back it, so who wouldn't join? When I paid the annual membership fee I was sincerely thanked, given a free ticket and a fine-looking baseball cap. This cap is attractive-looking. It is black and gold, with capital gold letters "NRA" on the front. The rim has catchy gold trim and to the side our beautiful U.S. flag.

When we arrived at home we gathered together and promptly put our attractive NRA caps on our heads and congratulated each other on how great they looked on each of us. It was at this point my heart sank, how could this have happened? The USA flag is sewn into the cap backward. OMG! I looked inside the cap to see a tag with the words "Made in China" sewn correctly within.

In an effort to right the backward U.S. flag, I turned the cap inside-out and upside-down to no avail. Not until I put the cap on my head in front of the mirror did the flag right itself. Only in front of the mirror, was the flag in its correct position. Isn't the mirror a reflection of us? It dawned on me in this moment that maybe this wonderful cap carries a much more profound message. Instead of shedding light on the mistakes of others, what should I be correcting in my own reflection?

Shar Volf

Danville