Letters for July 22, 2004

Possible culprit
After reading your recent article [ “Don’t drink it,” cover story, June 24], I have some questions of my own. In your article you mention “TCE and PCE are chlorinated solvents used for metal degreasing.” I did not see any mention of Rexnord as being a possible site for this contamination. During the days in which they were manufacturing conveyors, they had a large degreasing tank for all of their metal parts. Where these tanks were emptied is your guess as good as mine. Has the ground at the back of this plant site been tested?

Your article also mentions that “The DTSC’s Mandel states ‘There hasn’t been a rash of cancer or anything to suggest the TCE has compromised the health of anyone in the neighborhood.” In the department where my husband worked there were at least eight workers who have developed cancer, six of whom have had prostate cancer, one ovarian cancer, one lung cancer. If the plant records could be made available and a contact made with each of these employees, it might be surprising how many of these people have had cancer.

It is very sad that it has taken so long to determine that there was a serious health problem with the groundwater. Rexnord closed its doors in 1987. The company has since been sold many times, and there is probably no one to be held accountable.

Thank you for your enlightening article.

Karoline Harman

Robbing from Peter…
I always look forward to reading retired CSUC Professor Richard Ek’s letters and columns; he writes so well. Yet I seldom agree with his political view of the world.

His July 8 guest comment [ “How to save Social Security”] prompts me to infill a few vital statistics.

Today’s ratio of workers-retiree is in the neighborhood of 3.5 to 1, but it started around 15 or 16 to 1, changing as the program expanded over the last 65-plus years. Projected ratios could drop into the 2- to 2.5-1 range as families have fewer replacement workers and medical advancements help us live longer lives. Do we see a trend?

The original payroll tax was 2 percent, with a cap of $3,000. Once again, the rate was raised as the program expanded, and the cap was raised as inflation and prosperity raised our apparent incomes. Current level of total payroll tax is 12.4 percent SS, with a cap of $87,900, and 2.9 percent Medicare, with no cap. You can argue over who pays the tax; the true rate remains the same. Same trend.

Started as a pay-as-you-go plan, it has little to do with savings. It’s just a simple matter of taking from one group and giving to another as the political and economic winds blow from one side to the other. The only arguably common thread is that if you pay in you get an equal rate of return. Raising the rate or the cap on the wealthy does little more than raising our collective obligation in the future, unless Professor Ek is suggesting that we just take their property by force with no reimbursement planned.

Rodney Jenkins
East Biggs

Nothing to fear
I must say it’s like a punch in the stomach that torture has become associated with this country. And I would be horrified if a few enlisted personnel become the scapegoats for the policy makers who created the climate, where torture is acceptable in the name of America. America has been a refuge from that kind of activity. If we have become torturing fear-mongers, for what are we fighting?

I wish to give to my children the kind of country I inherited from my father—one where torture is completely foreign; one where war is entered into reluctantly and only when other options are exhausted; one that appeals to hope instead of fear; one that is respected; where we build on human rights, not sacrifice them for another questionable layer of security. I’m reminded of FDR’s immortal words, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” May we embody the words, “Land of the free, home of the brave.”

Charles Withuhn

Whose truth?
President Bush and his followers share certain fundamentalist religious beliefs. Among these is the belief that they have the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” and so have the right and even the moral responsible to see that their beliefs become part of the laws of our land.

I have a different set of beliefs, as do many other Americans. Chief among my beliefs is that life is a mystery that can only be solved by keeping all our minds open. Nobody knows the whole truth, and nobody has the right to impose their truth on others. We are all created equal, to me, means that our differing truths are to be given equal respect under the law. That is why up until now we have had a separation of church and state.

It is foolish to argue with a man about his religion. Better to vote them out of office

Renee Renaud

More theater woes
People of Chico and Butte County, please help save and support the performing arts in this area. We are blessed with a great range and tremendous depth of talent in Chico-area theaters, but it is so very disappointing and truly sad to perform in front of so many empty seats. The axiom “If you build it, they will come” sounds great in theory, but it falls far short in practice.

Chico Theater Company is nearing the end of its first year, but we cannot continue without an increase in support from the community. Donations are great, but it is as simple as attending the top-quality shows that are being produced.

When compared to the cost of a movie ticket with the accompanying popcorn and sodas, the price of a ticket to a “live” theater performance is a bargain.

When the performance of a “live” person (actor/singer/dancer) is compared to the refined and polished on-screen performance of a film actor, the film pales in comparison. In live theater, the emotions and intensity are real, the laughter and love are deeper and richer, and the sense of community and shared experience by being a part of the theater audience is priceless. Chico Theater Company is a nonprofit community theater dedicated to family-oriented musicals and plays. Please support Chico-area performing arts and please help keep Chico Theater Company open.

Marc Edson
Managing Director
Chico Theater Company