Let's bail on high-speed rail, revive I-5

Gov. Brown, please do not spend $68 BILLION on this high-speed rail set to fail.

Please spend far less money and still put people to work widening Interstate 5 to three or even four lanes while rebuilding it with some asphalt that might last more than a few years. Allow us to travel 80 mph on the newly improved Interstate 5. Then we can drive straight from our homes in the East Bay without buying tickets, parking or getting a ride to a rail station, checking in and on the other end ... being picked up or having to rent a car. We can drive to L.A. in well under five hours on our safe, modernized and rebuilt Interstate 5. Besides ... we all know that the game will change over and over after it is built and not in favor of the citizens. What?! Fees for luggage?! Bail on the Rail -- Bring I-5 Alive!

Nick Vleisides

Danville

Some cities look like they didn't hear of drought

I read your article on water hogs with interest. I don't question that it is factually correct, but you missed one of the most flagrant violators: our local governments.

You mentioned that Vernon (near Los Angeles) uses huge amounts of water, but it has industries like packing plants that absolutely require sanitary water in their operations. Palm Springs residents need to cut back, but we know some irrigation is necessary in the desert. Affluent homeowners in our area should turn their irrigation off for the rest of the winter, but even the largest yard can't compare to our parks and greenbelt areas.


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My daughter lives at the top of a cul-de-sac below a large greenbelt. As I was getting into my car during a downpour the other day, I noticed the Rainbird sprinklers were on in one section of the park area. After a while, not a short time, another section turned on. The clock continues to do its job because no one in the parks department can be bothered to put it on standby. Today, shortly after the skies cleared, I was there and saw the same cycle start. I've mentioned this to friends, who share stories of water pouring down gutters as boulevard and roadside plantings are overwatered.

How do we get our governments to share our concern?

Eugene Paschal

Danville

Minimum wage increases will hurt, not help

Raising the minimum wage of unskilled workers is a political ploy to solicit their votes, not raise their living standard. There are several effects of raising the minimum wage:

  • Proportionate increase in the wages of skilled workers;

  • Reduced financial ability of businesses compelling them to reduce number of employees;

  • Commensurate price increase in goods and services, as the dollar depreciates to the same extent, causing the minimum wage workers fall behind in their chase of the mirage of better living standard;

  • Failure of some businesses as they are forced to price themselves out of the market, sending more people to food stamps or unemployment benefits;

  • More unemployment of unskilled and skilled workers causing a setback to the whole economy;

  • More jobs moving out of the country to avail of cheaper labor elsewhere; and,

  • Raising the minimum wage does not espouse the interest of the unemployed, it hurts.

    To raise the living standard, effort should focus on raising the purchasing power of the dollar by producing more wealth.

    Abiding by the true principles of economics, wages of all workers may be decided by the free market of supply and demand, resulting in positive effects: financial potential of the businesses will improve, allowing businesses to employ more people; reduce unemployment; produce competitive, quality goods and services at exportable prices; bring back the forced-out jobs; and strengthen the dollar, raising the living standard of all workers by producing more wealth of goods and services, not by printing more dollars.

    T.S. Khanna

    Alamo

    Employ jobless temporarily on public works

    An email from George Miller supported extending unemployment compensation. On his site many bleeding heart letters expressed why this compensation should be extended.

    Let's go back to really hard times, to the Great Depression when the government put the Civilian Conservation Corps into effect. The CCC allowed men 18 and older to work at a dollar a day. The typical tour was six months except for married men, who could enlist for up to a year. The program put America back to work.

    But it didn't go on and on. The work was often backbreaking, using nothing more than picks, shovels and axes. Slackers were not tolerated.

    Sure, a dollar a day would go nowhere today, but the principle is the same. Those receiving "unemployment" should do something for this money, and if one is not willing to work, then someone who is should be given the opportunity. Unemployment compensation should not go on endlessly.

    Joan Hamblin

    Danville

    Judges ruined death penalty's legal process

    Govs. Deukmejian, Davis and Wilson are backing a ballot proposal to correct the flaws (i.e. delays) with California's death penalty. While I support this effort, it's another example of the mess judges have made of the processes they control in our society.

    In the case of the death penalty, the judges set the ground rules for the entire process post-conviction -- appeals, execution methods, quality of representation, etc. Now we're at a point where the judges have thrown sand in the gears of the system for decades and then they have the nerve to declare the system "dysfunctional." That's too bad, but it's the system they created and broke.

    We give way too much respect to courts and judges. It's a cliché to say that any controversial issue will be settled by the Supreme Court. But we should be alarmed by that. The prevalence of 5-to-4 decisions makes it clear that there's not a lot of objective truth to any of this, merely opinion. It may be more educated opinion than average, but that's not the point. You wouldn't get the nine most accomplished physicists, economists or medical doctors disagreeing 5 to 4 on a large fraction of the questions asked of their disciplines. If they did, they'd be objects of derision, not respect.

    Jim Hemenway

    San Ramon