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Government shill

EDITOR: I can't figure out if columnist Paul Krugman is an economic buffoon or just a shill for the government.

In recent columns, he chastised the "deficit scolds" and "inflation scaremongers" and then goes on to cite government statistics, such as a 2 percent inflation rate and a 9 percent unemployment rate. In the mid-1990s, the government changed the way unemployment is calculated, dropping the long-term unemployed from the unemployment rolls. Also in the '90s, the government changed the way it computes inflation, introducing substitution of products and dropping food and energy from inflation calculations.

I direct people's attention to shadowstats.com, which calculates inflation and unemployment the original way. According to shadowstats, the true unemployment rate is 23 percent, and the true inflation rate is 11.1 percent. Anyone who goes to the grocery store can testify that inflation is much higher than 2 percent. It then follows that Krugman's arguments are based on false statistics and therefore false.

I think Krugman is bucking for Ben Bernanke's job, so he takes the government's propaganda position.

There will be dire consequences for the dollar with the Fed pumping trillions into the economy. If interest rates go up to normal levels, the interest on the national debt will begin to exceed tax collected, leaving little for anything else.

WILLIAM CLOPTON

Santa Rosa

Pension history

EDITOR: The real story on public pensions is that in the 1970s the CHP negotiated a new retirement formula, allowing officers to retire at age 55 with 2 percent of their pay for each year they worked, up to a maximum of 75 percent. This eventually became 3 percent at 50, with a maximum of 90 percent. The new retirement was intended to reduce disabilities and encourage younger, fitter officers, and soon other agencies adopted similar formulas.

It was never meant for non-emergency employees to have their retirement formulas follow suit, because their work environments did not warrant such a change. However, state, city and county managers looked at these formulas and said, "me too." As a matter of necessity, they had to give all employees vastly improved retirements in order for them to cash in on improvements never intended for bureaucrats.

Changes meant to improve the circumstances and efficiency of police and firefighters were hijacked to improve retirement benefits for management and, in doing so, also general public employees, too. In some cases, non-emergency responders can retire with 100 percent of their pay. This travesty can be traced to, and we can thank, our mostly retired state, city and county managers for this change.

TIM DORMAN

Santa Rosa

SR school suspensions

EDITOR: My son was a victim of Santa Rosa City Schools discipline system run amok, as described by Staff Writer Kerry Benefield in two recent articles ("SR student suspension rate 4th-highest in state," May 12 and "Officials exit SR school district at key time," Tuesday).

He was subjected to a botched investigation that abdicated basic principles of fairness and due process. His unjustified suspension deprived him of all of his eighth-grade year-end festivities. It took nearly a year, and the threat of litigation, to get the situation corrected and his record cleared, and that occurred only after the issue was escalated up the chain of command.

I commend Superintendent Socorro Shiels for making it a priority of her new administration to scrutinize and remedy this problem.

DAPHNE BELETSIS

Santa Rosa

Doing their job

EDITOR: Cotati shouldn't focus on police use of Tasers so much as it should worry about preventing domestic violence ("Police stun gun video goes viral," May 16). Does anyone really believe that a neighbor called the cops because they heard a couple having a simple squabble? Whether it was verbal or physical abuse — and whether there was a history of similar incidents — we won't know unless there is a trial. But what we do know is that domestic abuse can quickly escalate with deadly consequences.

This is why police treat such complaints differently from those regarding "noise." No matter what they were told by James Wood, it was incumbent on the police to physically check that his wife wasn't under duress in making statements about her status. How were they to know that her husband wasn't holding a knife to her throat or twisting her arm unless they checked for themselves?

If Wood thinks his civil rights were violated, let him complain and sue later. But don't try to prevent the police from doing the job that "we, the people" want done.

JOAN SIMON

Cotati