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Dec. 18 Letters to the Editor

EDITOR: In his recent letter, Hank Skewis defends the pay and benefits gap between the public and private sectors with two unfounded claims (“Private sector lags,” Dec. 8). First, he suggests that the private sector should be paying higher wages. Second, Skewis suggests that the private sector has failed at providing “living-wage employment.”

Private-sector wages are set in a voluntary process in which both sides stand to benefit or lose in the negotiations. As an added constraint, consumers can keep their money and walk away from any business that overcharges, whether for high profits or high wages. In the public sector, the employers are not risking their own money, and the consumers cannot easily take their money and business elsewhere. The result is excessive wages and benefits.

Simple logic tells us that living wages can be reached either by securing higher wages or by reducing living expenses. Every extra dollar spent on housing is a dollar not available for food, clothing, schooling or medical care. Thus, the innumerable barriers erected by government to force living expenses higher, such as land-use restrictions to keep housing prices higher and farm subsidies to keep food prices higher, prevent private sector wages from being living wages.

JAMES R. OGLESBY

Santa Rosa

Shocked, surprised

EDITOR: I watched the video of the confrontation between the Petaluma police and bar patrons (“Bar patrons criticize police reaction to fight,” Wednesday). I am both shocked and surprised: shocked at the behavior of the patrons and surprised that the officers were able to show such restraint and professionalism.

NANCEE TAVARES

Petaluma

Wrong approach

EDITOR: I am writing to bring attention to the proposal called the “Support Federal Immigration Law Act.” It was submitted to California state authorities by Michael Erickson in September. The proposal is similar to Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which allows police to look into a person's legal status if they have “reasonable suspicion.”

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