Letters for November 26, 2009

Letter of the week
Ditto head

Re “Obviously an Ayn Rand reader” and “Reader appears callous despite trying hard not to” (SN&R Letters, November 12):

These two letters repeat the line of reasoning commonly heard these days: Why should state workers (and public-sector employees in general) have benefit plans so much better than us, the hardworking private-sector workers? It simply isn’t fair, these writers proclaim.

Instead of asking why they have it better than you, how about asking why you don’t have it as good as state workers?

I spent 30-plus years here in Sacramento as a private sector, nonunion worker. When I started in the 1970s, every large employer I knew offered me good health-insurance plans with little or no cost to me. Defined benefit retirement plans were offered to those who worked over 20 years—that’s a guaranteed pension, not the roulette system known as 401(k). I recall making a decision not to be a government worker because the private sector offered the same level of benefits and paid better!

Foolish me. From the 1980s on, my work world became increasingly less generous. My last two employers offered no health-care plans and not even a 401(k) for retirement. My pay hardly kept up with the cost of living, saving became impossible (yes, I once had been able to save).

I came to envy state workers, I admit. But they weren’t the enemy! They didn’t create my deteriorating work world. I did—by buying into right-wing nonsense: The marketplace had changed and American business was too challenged (too poor) to pay me the way they once had; I had better just work hard and be grateful I had a job.

What a crock! American private-sector workers work the longest hours for the worst overall compensation levels in the Western industrial world. Want a decent employer-provided health-care plan? Then move to Europe and take any job. Want at least three weeks of paid vacation annually? Ditto. Paid sick leave—ditto!

I urge all private-sector workers to wake up to this reality. Challenge any and all large employers to compensate you fairly first: Not the shareholders first, or themselves first, but you first.

If they refuse (I expect they will), then adopt the solution your grandparents used once upon a time—labor unions. Once 25 percent of private-sector employees belonged to unions; today, the figure is 8 percent. See a pattern here? Urge [President Barack] Obama and Congress to adopt the Employee Free Choice Act.

Most of all, understand that you won’t get the benefits that state workers now have by joining in a campaign to take away those very benefits. What state workers lose won’t be “given” to you! Far from it. If private employers no longer have to worry about competing in the employment market with the better benefits promised public-sector workers, they will further cut back on what they offer their employees, and they will tell us that they have to do this in order to stay in business!

No, I am not now, nor ever have been, in a labor union. But I sure as hell regret that decision on my part!

Ralph Cyfers
Rancho Cordova

Cell tower robbery

Re “Towers of spending power” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature Sidebar, November 19):

The [cell phone] towers are on private property, and the city steals money in the form of a fee and gives it to the councilpersons to buy votes. Doesn’t anybody see anything wrong with this racketeering behavior?

This is standard practice in Third World countries like Afghanistan, where you buy off the political power to do something. Why are these thieves allowed to do this in this country? If the charities (and who decides which one to give the money to?) want dollars, let them line up like everyone else. Everyone participating in this theft is a criminal and should go to jail for bribery and buying votes.

Michael Fellion

Local leadership missed the train

Re “Train in vain” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, November 12):

One of the unspoken reasons for Sacramento’s second-class status in the high-speed rail project is Sacramento’s historical lack of interest in transit. I suppose I should say that I mean our political leaders’ lack of interest, and not the voters who consistently approve transit funding.

A glaring example of our elected leaders disdain for transit is the fact that Sacramento International Airport, which first opened on October 21, 1967, has managed to go 42 years without service by Regional Transit, and then it is only served by Yolobus over the protest of the RT board of directors. The date for light rail to start serving the airport keeps getting pushed off and, the last I heard, we can expect to start using light rail to the airport in 2027. Maybe.

But right now we’re supposed to expect that the new high-speed rail service is supposed to make Sacramento a priority when, after 42 years, we still have not made a priority of RT bus service to our main airport? Why should the high-speed rail authority expect us to have RT bus service to the new rail station? What lame excuse will the RT board come up with to explain why they’ll refuse to give us RT service to connect to high-speed rail? Will the people of Sacramento County have to continue to rely on Yolobus for access to our airport and high-speed rail?

Seriously, until Sacramento’s local leadership actually makes mass transit a real priority, instead of just wheeling it out for show as an excuse to suck up state and federal tax dollars, there’s no reason for anyone else to make mass transit in Sacramento a priority.

Peter Finn

Further adventures of rogue warrior

Re “This end up” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, November 19):

One can only hope that Sarah Palin will be the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. With her 20 percent base of hard-core fundamentalists, few GOP candidates will be electable.

If she were elected, she’d no doubt delegate Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck to head up the Ministry of Propaganda. Fox News would become the national media outlet. There would be prayer in every school and women’s freedom of choice would go down the toilet. Imagine Bill O’Reilly as press secretary.

President Palin would rely on politics of fear and scaremongering as prime directives.

Now that’s a nightmare.

Ron Lowe
Nevada City

Hey, some films aren’t digital

Re “Life in 24 frames” by Nick Miller (SN&R Nightbeat, November 19):

Yes, I do agree that [the music of Life in 24 Frames] is very much reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky, with a Death Cab for Cutie lyrical feel. But I am pretty sure that there are a large number of films still shot at 24 frames a second.

Corinne Mack


Re “Even bookworms hibernate” by Kel Munger (SN&R Arts&Culture, November 19): We were contacted after publication by Seven Stories Press and informed that the publication of The Killing Game: The Writings of an Intrepid Investigative Reporter by Gary Webb, edited by Eric Webb, will be delayed into late 2010. Put it on next fall’s reading list.