Letters for May 4, 2006

’Employers as felons’ has a nice ring to it

Re “'Undocumented burglars’ has a nice ring to it” (SN&R Letters, April 20):

Mr. Erlich offers a cute analogy of comparing illegal immigration with a robber breaking into someone’s home. Unfortunately, it’s a very bad one. A better analogy would be a robber breaking into someone’s home and then the homeowner shows them where to find the lawn mower.

If you truly want to curb illegal immigration, start by enforcing the law. Throw all those who hire illegals into prison; make them the felons and make them pay dearly for it! All this talk about building a wall and turning illegals and those who help them into felons won’t solve a darn thing unless you remove the demand for cheap labor. Unfortunately we live a society that thrives on cheap labor.

Making a certain group of people the scapegoat will certainly win elections, but won’t solve the problem. I find it interesting that we’re in an election year … coincidence? H.R. 4437, the anti-immigration bill, is only a red herring being used to stir up the conservative base to vote and it’s unfortunate that many like Mr. Erlich fall for this political B.S. rather than addressing the real cause of illegal immigration: jobs! The true dilemma facing our current Republican administration, however, is how one satisfies the bigots while pleasing big business.

George Avila

Save money with solar technology …

Re “Solar Sacramento” by Ralph Brave (SN&R Feature Story, April 20):

Thank you for shedding light on the latest events making solar technology an everyday reality in California. SMUD customers should be rightfully proud of the utility for its forward-thinking clean-energy policies.

However, there are still major challenges ahead for solar, and it’s premature to consider the job “done.” For instance: State incentives have supported the installation of just 20,000 solar-electric systems during the last five years, and just .2 percent of the electricity used in 2005 was produced by solar. We have a very big challenge to reach one million roofs and to have solar represent a significant percentage of our energy mix.

Solar will become mainstream when people recognize that it’s smart, safe and provides energy security. When you invest in solar, you lock in your price of power and help stabilize the utility grid. Those who can afford the initial investment are wise to make it now while incentives are at their peak. Also, solar hot-water systems are extremely cost-effective, with the current federal tax credit of up to $2,000.

We encourage all home and business owners to learn more about the technology by taking a solar-home tour. Visit www.norcalsolar.org for more information.

Liz Merry, executive director
NorCal Solar Energy Association

… unless you’re already kinda green!

Re “Solar Sacramento” by Ralph Brave (SN&R Feature Story, April 20):

Thank you for your enlightening article on solar power in Sacramento. Getting off the grid and into self-sufficiency while doing the right thing by the environment are all great things. But it is ironic that solar power is least rewarding for those who are already green.

The article tells us that solar power now makes more sense and that “the economics of the solar electric systems have become viable for much wider segments of residents and businesses.” This might be true for those in 6,000-square-foot homes with $600 electricity bills. But for those of us who are conservation-minded and live in shady Midtown, solar is still a boondoggle.

I recently got several estimates for installing a photovoltaic system. Here’s the math: $18,000 for the system. The SMUD rebate takes it to $15,000. Tax credits drop it another few grand to about $12,000. But I live lightly on the grid—I’m energy conscious and careful with the AC, so my power bill averages only $12 a month or so. This means it would take me 100 years to break even on an investment in solar.

If rates increase significantly in coming years, maybe it would be more like 75 or 50 years. It makes me cringe to make such an economic decision against the environment, but I just can’t afford it.

Kevin Wehr

Financial corruption is the tip of the iceberg

Re “Picking scabs” (SN&R Bites, April 20):

Kudos to Bites for once again bringing our attention, if not awareness, to more of the outrages that John Doolittle and his Republican colleagues have played recently in the undermining of America. News items suggest the corruption investigation, beginning with Jack Abramoff, will implicate numerous others in this band of off-course conservatives.

But vote-buying and nepotism in the use of special-interest and campaign funds are just the tip of this scandalous iceberg. The more lasting and destructive behavior of the House Republicans—led by the likes of former termite exterminator Tom Delay—is their blind, sheep-like support of President George W. Bush’s wrongheaded policies.

The list of these policies is endless. Among other destructive measures: an unnecessary and immoral (likely illegal) war in Iraq; tax reductions for the wealthy, resulting massive federal deficits; a mindless “non-solution” to the social-security problem; worsening Medicare-cost problems by a complicated, more-costly drug provision; relaxing environmental protections for both water and air; mistakenly relying solely on testing to solve education problems; eroding the privacy of individuals in a “war on terrorism”; and, perhaps worst of all, keeping this country’s people in a constant “state of fear” so as to maintain his political standing. Quite a record, but it couldn’t have been accomplished without the complicity of Doolittle and other corrupt, unthinking House Republicans.

We have only ourselves to blame if we don’t “kick these rascals out” come November.

Chuck McIntyre