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No solutions offered

EDITOR: Public pensions’ unfunded liabilities are just a shorter-term state version of the longer-term Social Security/Medicare funding crisis. No one at the local, state or federal level in either party has offered solutions that the electorate is willing to get behind so far.

Your Saturday editorial (“Daunting numbers for pension funds”) defines the problem but doesn’t offer reasonable options for a solution, which is where we are at on every front. None of our leaders or grass-roots organizations (AARP among them) has the courage to take on these fights yet. So, for the foreseeable future, we will stew in our unfunded pension cauldron until the younger, paying generation revolts. That is, when their standard of living deteriorates enough and they voice their concern en masse at election time.



How many homes?

EDITOR: The 270 members of the Lytton Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians are entitled to a place called home (“No room for extremes in tribe debate,” Editorial, Sept. 6). My question is, why do they need to build 360 homes for 270 people? I have to assume this includes family groups of parents, children and, often times, grandparents. I have a bad feeling we aren’t being told the whole truth. The rationale that Rohnert Park only wishes it had such a sweet deal may be true, but it doesn’t change present circumstances. I think we have learned a few lessons since then. No. 1 is pay close attention to the fine print.


Santa Rosa

A disservice

EDITOR: You did a great disservice by publishing a column critical of professional firefighters at a time when so many of California’s brave firefighters, including our son, are risking their lives to help those threatened by major wildfires (“Too many firefighters,” Sunday).

The column is written by a professor who bases his arguments on a statistical decline in structure and vehicle fires. He writes that “being a firefighter these days doesn’t involve a lot fire fighting.” The real experts, the firefighters striving to protect lives and property threatened by California’s wildfires, know otherwise. Firefighters are first responders to all major natural disasters.

California firefighters are pioneers in the area of urban search and rescue. If you have a loved one trapped in rubble following an earthquake, it’s unlikely you will think we have too many firefighters.

The professor opines that municipalities can replace many of their professional firefighters with volunteers. He points to Pasadena, Texas. However, due its petrochemical industry, Pasadena isn’t a typical small city. Pasadena and other Houston suburbs have volunteers who work in fire protection in the petrochemical industry.

He ends by saying: “As the risk of massive infernos declines, what we really need is to rethink our entire firefighting model.” Front pages concerning the fire storm near Middletown make a lie of this premise.


Santa Rosa

Retirement gap

EDITOR: Daniel Vermillion is right (“Social Security and taxes,” Letters, Thursday). Social Security has been a Ponzi scheme, and there won’t be benefits as promised for younger workers unless something dramatic is done.

He says “the trust fund will exhaust reserves by 2034.” There are no reserves in the trust fund, just IOUs. The government owes the money to itself. Where does the money come from to pay off these IOUs? The government doesn’t have a job. It doesn’t get a W-2, and it can’t work overtime or two jobs to make ends meet. It gets its money by taking it from people who do these things.

Benefits paid already exceed tax revenue, so the shortfall is being taken out of the general fund now, not 2034.

Vermillion supports raising the retirement age. Yes, we live longer, but we can’t work longer. There are many jobs that the aging body can no longer easily do when we are in our 50s. To name just a few, roofing, stone masonry, iron work, construction of all sorts, plumbing — all back-breaking work.

Already, there is a gap between being forced into retirement and being able to collect Social Security. Many do not have adequate retirement assets set aside. How are these people supposed to get along?


Santa Rosa

Support the homeless

EDITOR: I just returned from a visit to Camp Michela and there’s a good vibe there (“SR homeless activists issue demands,” Saturday). It is clean, organized and peaceful. Let’s get behind this group of people and support them moving forward. How can we allow $31 million homes to exist in the same county where some people don’t even have a safe place to sleep? Are we ready to show some compassion and share some of the wealth?



Reaching out

EDITOR: I agree with Marcelino Valencia Jr. (“Immigrants and refugees,” Letters, Friday): discrimination is hurtful and unjust. I wish it had not happened to his father or any other father. It has, however, happened again and again, against persons or groups that we view as different from ourselves, including Jews, blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Native Americans, Muslims, etc. The list is long and seemingly endless.

In my opinion, the only thing we can do to stop this cycle is for each and every one of us to promise that what happened to us shouldn’t happen to other people and to reach out to people who need help, including refugees from wars in Syria and refugees from violence in

Central America and, perhaps, the neighbor kid who is being picked on, too.

I can hear the groans; we can’t help everybody. Perhaps not, but if we all reach out to just one person, that is 300 million right there — a good beginning.