Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): Dennis McEwan's opinion glosses over the fundamental weakness of the ecological component of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan: While the hardware has guaranteed funding by assessing consumers of the water, funds for the ecological component must be raised by California voters approving future bond measures.
If these bond measures fail, California gets the tunnels and the water diversion, but no ecological restoration. Bee staff writer Matt Weiser's March 28 news story "Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents reveal details, stir concerns" says, "The new plumbing is estimated to cost $14 billion,... paid by farm and urban water ratepayers ... via rate increases to repay bonds issued by DWR."
The story also says the plan calls for converting many Delta islands into restored wildlife habitat. This is estimated to cost $4 billion, which the planners expect all California taxpayers to fund, according to the article.
Higher wages will hurt many
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 2): Paul Krugman closes his argument by stating that "raising the minimum wage would help many Americans." By many, he is talking about the 30 million workers earning minimum wage.
However, raising the minimum wage will only hurt the low-income workers by making it harder for the less qualified who are searching for jobs in a nation with a whopping unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Lets not forget that the ideal unemployment is a mere 4.5 percent.
If our nation could increase funding toward such a goal, instead of raising the minimum wage, we would be helping the 11.3 million people that are unemployed, as well as the 30 million low-income workers.
If our nation hopes to overcome economic inequality, this should be common sense.
Re Atheists Out of the Closet in new billboard campaign (Our Region, Dec. 2): The responses of the religious spokesmen to the atheist billboard campaign were distressing.
Metwalli Amer, executive director of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims Islamic Center, took offense that people do not believe as he does. Is he suggesting that believers, but not atheists, can state their views publicly?
Monsignor Jim Murphy, vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, dismissed atheists as a small minority, but perhaps he should reflect that Christians in first century Palestine were also a tiny minority.
Believers may disagree with atheist views, but they need to offer reasonable counterarguments.
Re: Explore new options for pre-65 retirees (Editorials, Dec. 4): As a retired state worker, I have health care coverage though the California Public Employees Retirement System. This benefit is part of my compensation for the labor I provided to the state for 35 years. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, I was paid less than the private sector paid for similar work because of my future benefits.
If my health benefit was taken away, I would not receive the full agreed-upon pay package for my labor. That is not only unfair but illegal.
The Sacramento Bee editorial board's suggestion to push government retirees onto Covered California would put an unexpected and undue financial burden on government retirees. Cal-PERS uses its negotiation strength to provide group health insurance at a much cheaper rate and with more benefits than any of the plans offered by Covered California.
The Affordable Care Act is barely adequate for uninsured workers. It was never intended as a replacement for group plans.
-- Cindy Edwards, Sacramento
I realize not everyone has had a positive experience with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but I want to relay my experience to encourage others to explore their options.
Currently, our family of four pays for our own health insurance. We are all healthy, yet our 2013 premium is just $31 less than our mortgage.
It's not great insurance. We have a high deductible, and of the eight preventative care/vaccination visits we've had this year, four have been incorrectly billed (in favor of the insurance company) and reversed when I brought the billing to the company's attention.
Our current coverage is not being canceled, by the way. However, after going through the Covered California website, we will be getting comparable coverage (as confirmed by our broker), but in 2014 will be paying $165 less per month than our 2013 premium. For our family, it's a deal.
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 3): Minimum wage is a major problem throughout our society, though people disagree about the need to raise it. Laborers believe that they are working too hard for a small amount of pay, while others say a low minimum wage is necessary for many big companies.
History shows us that we can increase the minimum wage without hurting the economy, but economists, as Paul Krugman states, are skeptical and will be against higher minimum wage, whether or not it hurts the economy.
Many people in our country are working for low wages, usually less than $10 an hour. Workers at this low wage level find it hard to provide for their basic needs, such as food and shelter.
Re "Atheists 'Out of Closet' in new billboard campaign" (Our Region, Dec. 2): What a wonderful article is in today's paper about the atheist billboards. I am 70, but when I was 16, I would have loved to come across such evidence that I was not the only person in the world who, in deepest sincerity and honesty, had to call herself an atheist.
Over the years, after earnestly exploring, studying and trying out other religions and ways of thought, I find myself still an atheist, more confident and happy with my choice and who I am than ever.
It would have been an even lovelier journey, especially during my younger years, to have been able to share it with others asking similar questions and considering all the possible answers.
The billboards are a wonderful idea in reaching out. I am sure they will have positive effects for many.
Re "Don't blame Obama for website" (Letters, Dec. 5): In response, I would like to ask the letter writer: If Medicare works, why are so many doctors dropping out of the program and why is there so much fraud?
If Medicare works, why did my husband only receive a $10 payment for a three-hour anesthesia that he gave a patient and several times received no payment? Likewise, why is there a never-ending trail of Medicare paperwork for doctors to complete?
Why on earth would anyone want another government-run agency when they are all subsidized by taxpayers? The track record includes Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service.
Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): Too Bad Dennis McEwan did not apply his expertise to changing the Peripheral Canal, so that it could produce an abundant fishery by creating artificial breeding grounds along the canal. The canal was much more versatile in that it could provide water in several channels to augment Delta flows.
The canal was proposed because it was recognized that the Delta was being harmed by the current diversions. It would have foreclosed any pumping out of the south Delta. But environmentalists fought and won an alternative that is far worse.
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 3): The minimum wage is in dire need of an increase, as Paul Krugman states in his opinion piece.
Working at McDonald's for more than a year, I have seen workers scrape to get by. They have to work several jobs to put food on the table. If the national minimum wage was raised to $10 an hour, it would help all of the workers out tremendously.
There are 3.6 million minimum-wage workers in California alone, and they cannot live on their current pay. The state in September approved gradually increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016. But if the minimum wage had kept up with the inflation over the past 70 years, it would already be $10.74 an hour.
Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): I've known Dennis McEwan as a state Fish and Game biologist, not as a water policy pundit. I would have been stunned if he had written this shout-out to the Delta "Chunnels" while at Fish and Game. But now McEwan works for the promoters of the proposed twin-tunnel project, the state Department of Water Resources.
The Delta protection problem is as it was with the Peripheral Canal 40 years ago. The state Water Resources Control Board was created in the 1960s to establish, among other things, how much freshwater through-flow is needed to protect Bay-Delta estuary resources.
The board has been politically restrained from doing its job. Building first and finding out how badly it affects the estuary second was the problem with the Peripheral Canal. Now it's the problem with the Chunnels.
Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): Dennis McEwan's employer, the California Department of Water Resources, has a lot invested in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
If the project is not permitted, not only will some positions have to be reconstructed, but the Department of Water Resources will have to come up with an alternative to tunnels. Unfortunately for the Delta, no such commitment to a different solution exists at the department.
It would be interesting to put McEwan and Dr. Peter Gleick, whose opinion piece ran Nov. 6 in Forum, on the same stage and have them debate their viewpoints.
Pass the Kool-Aid, please ... I'm confused, too.
Re "Health care privacy seen to be at risk" (Page A1, Dec. 1): The collection of demographic information is alarming. First, it was stated that insurers want financial incentives to collect and report this data. Won't the cost of this be passed on to consumers or taxpayers?
More importantly, why this information is collected?
Health care providers will be rewarded for proving improved health status for members based on demographics. In other words, providers may concentrate on healing certain groups while showing less concern for other groups in order to receive better ratings or more money.
Providers should prioritize care based on medical severity, not someone's race or gender, etc. Demographics should have no impact on how health care providers treat us.
Collecting this data is costly, and it will lead to unfair treatment of patients. It's another example of government disrupting the doctor-patient relationship.
Re "Not a typhoon, but Syria's tragedy calls for generous help" (Viewpoints, Nov. 30): Trudy Rubin's article on the human catastrophe in Syria is superb. It shows that Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with his supporters, Hezballah and Iran, are targeting a peaceful population when they attack Israel. In fact, Israeli doctors have been treating Syrian individuals fleeing the forces of Assad and his supporters.
Since Rubin also referred to typhoons, it is fitting to note that it was Israel, not Hezballah's Lebanon or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Iran, that sent an entourage of doctors and other medical personnel to the Philippines after the recent typhoon. One euphoric mother there even named her newborn Israel as a gesture of gratitude to the dedication of those doctors.
Re "One shot to save Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not the "most realistic plan yet conceived" to address the equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability, as Dennis McEwan claims.
How will the peripheral tunnels benefit Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead and other fish species when they are, in fact, only spreading the fish carnage from the South Delta to the Sacramento River?
The massacre of millions of fish annually will continue when the South Delta pumps are operating, while the new intake facilities on the Sacramento will imperil salmon in their major migratory corridor.
The Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan is a far superior plan to the BDCP. It reduces water exports to no more than 3 million acre-feet per year and brings solutions to California's water problems, including retirement of drainage-impaired land and increased water recycling and conservation.
Re "One shot to save the Delta's ecology" (Forum, Dec. 1): How will diverting more than half of the Sacramento River's Delta flow to Southern California help restore the wetland habitat?
The article says that today about 3 percent of marshes remain and 23 percent of seasonal wetlands remain.This being said, explain to me how removing most of the river flow for Southern California is going to solve the wetlands problem.
Isn't the fact that we have already diverted a large portion of water causing part of the existing issue?
A report in your paper states an estimated 18,000 cubic feet per minute will be diverted in the two tunnels. It also noted that the Sacramento River's flow is about the same. In this case, two plus two doesn't equal four.
Re "Raising minimum wage would aid many without harming the economy" (Viewpoints, Dec. 3): In the past years, minimum-wage workers' cost of living has gone up a great deal, making it even harder for these people to make ends meet.
One reason the minimum wage should be increased is so that the working class has enough money to put some back into the economy, so it becomes healthier. When minimum wages are reduced by inflation, the working class spends less, which is detrimental to our economy. Even though raising the national minimum wage will drop margins of profit for big companies, it will help companies in the long run. If their pay is increased even a little, these working-class citizens will give the economy a boost.
Re "Race to rescue health website" (Page A1, Dec. 1): The focus continues to be on the Affordable Care Act's mishaps, but the real scandal is worse: Health care is being denied to 5 million people because some state governors continue to sabotage medical care for poor people.
The GOP decided years ago to never support anything that President Barack Obama tried to do. These tactics always make the government look bad, but I guess that's what the GOP wants. Go figure.
Re "Develop farmlands, not housing projects" (Letters, Dec. 1): The Sacramento Bee has done a good job sharing readers' views on the McKinley Village proposal for 300-plus new homes on 48 acres in east Sacramento currently zoned for heavy industrial use.
McKinley Village, as proposed, will greatly tax the area infrastructure that established residents count on.
The project's major shortcoming is its lack of automobile access via Alhambra Boulevard, which the developer says is "infeasible." That means it would be expensive and reduce profits.
This proposal reflects poorly on those who favor it because it shows little regard for the quality of life of the people who already live in east Sacramento or for those who might live there in the future.