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The ripoff state

EDITOR: Friday’s article about the state budget (“State lawmakers pass $139 billion spending plan”) said that California is swimming in a surplus. The most conservative estimate for this year is $9 billion.

My question is, if we are so rich, why are taxes and fees (disguised taxes) increasing? The latest are bridge tolls and gas taxes. How about we get rid of that $100 billion high-speed train to nowhere and use that money, plus existing gas taxes and tolls, to fix California’s infrastructure?

I looked it up. California is consistently in the top 10 states with the highest tax burden. Florida, also a heavily populated state (with a high percentage of retirees who don’t pay much in taxes), is among the least taxed states. Florida ranks 32nd in education. California ranks 50th. Florida’s roads are in good condition. California’s roads are in disrepair. Florida ranks 27th in cost of living. California is 49th. US News ranks California 50th in quality of life, just ahead of Puerto Rico.

When Ronald Reagan was governor, the budget was $1 billion. Roads were great, housing was cheap, education still sucked, but nobody complained. Something is very wrong.

MICHAEL BURWEN

Petaluma

Krauthammer’s thoughts

EDITOR: It was with great sadness that I read columnist Charles Krauthammer has terminal cancer with maybe only a few weeks to live (“A columnist says farewell,” June 10).

I’ve missed Krauthammer’s weekly column in The Press Democrat for the past several months and wondered if his column was no longer published due to many letters complaining about his opinions. I had been pleasantly surprised each week the paper continued to carry his column.

Many think Krauthammer is an ultra-conservative, possibly due to his frequent Fox News appearances. However, I consider him to be a reasonable and rational thinker with astute logic and intuition. As Fay Vincent recently stated, Krauthammer knows where true north points.

Some may not know that Krauthammer was paralyzed from a swimming pool accident at Harvard Medical School. He has used a wheelchair since, but he graduated and became a psychiatrist and, later, the journalist I’ve admired.

Krauthammer has always presented a welcome, friendly and respectful perspective. He has educated and enlightened me. I wish him peace. The world has been a better place because of him.

ARTHUR DEICKE

Santa Rosa

Cutting the microphone

EDITOR: Petaluma High School did settle the matter of going off-script with its valedictorian beforehand, contrary to what Jane Carey said in her letter (“Valedictorian censored,” Wednesday). School officials told the student she wouldn’t be allowed to continue if she deviated from her submitted speech.

I’m sure, being a valedictorian, the student understood the consequences. Perhaps the administrator could have explained the responsibilities of the valedictorian to the audience after the microphone was cut, so it didn’t seem to be a random act of censorship.

However, the only black eye that should be handed out is to the student. Consider it a responsible adulthood lesson learned.

MARTHA JOHNSON

Santa Rosa

Trump’s pardon talk

EDITOR: With his recent talk of possible pardons, the president could be sending this signal out to certain others: If you keep quiet about what I did, then I will pardon you for what you did.

If that’s what he intends to say and is understood to say, then he’s making an offer to perform an official act in exchange for something of value personally to him; that is, he’s making an offer to accept a bribe.

By itself, an offer by a public official to accept a bribe in exchange for an official act constitutes the complete crime of bribery under Title 18 Section 201(b)(2) of the United States Code.

Besides its reference to unidentified “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution specifically names only two crimes that constitute grounds for a president’s impeachment and removal from office. One of them is treason.

The other is bribery.

JIM LUTHER

Mendocino

Eliminate all nukes

EDITOR: The politicians of the United States are trivializing the increasing danger of a nuclear holocaust by endlessly criticizing the results of the summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The danger of nuclear war is so real and so utterly terrifying and catastrophic that we cannot afford the luxury of second-guessing Trump’s wisdom in meeting with Kim last week. Instead, all those who are hoping and working for the prevention of nuclear war must speak out more forcefully than ever for elimination of nuclear weapons from all nations that possess them.

Only when the whole of humanity unites in permanently destroying all 16,000 of the world’s nuclear warheads can there be true and lasting world peace. And only when all human beings work together for the complete elimination of all nuclear warheads can we consider ourselves sane and capable of living joyous and fulfilling lives.

RAMA KUMAR

Fairfax

A poetic warning

EDITOR: As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”

JUDY WATTEN

Kenwood

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