Letters to the Editor

Not all baby boomers are NIMBYs

More housing

Re “Out with California’s NIMBYs and in with the YIMBYs” (Erika D. Smith, July 23): I normally appreciate Erika D. Smith’s columns, but I am appalled at the ageism in this article. It’s offensive to to insinuate all baby boomers are NIMBYs, and concluding with the line, “Now if we can only get those baby boomers to help us.” This baby boomer has lived with his husband in the area of 17th and P since the 1980s. We have always wanted and supported residential development in the area. Discussion of developing the Ice Blocks has been going on since before we moved to the area and it’s finally coming to fruition. The Fremont Building was the first major development we supported. More recently, we’ve seen 16 Powerhouse, Lagado de Ravel and Eviva pop up. There are 12 town homes under construction one block behind us. The Ice Blocks complex, which we can see from our back porch, is nearing completion. We have supported all of these and the many more in development or planned, including another CADA development for the vacant block bounded by 17th and 18th at S. We were early supporters of Nikki Mohanna’s 19J project, and of townhouses and apartments in the 19th to 21st and Q Street area, and Bay Miry’s midrise apartment complex at 15th and Q. The only project that we oppose is the Yamani project, as it is a radical departure from Sacramento’s general plan, in its location, which, at 25th and J, is nowhere near our backyard. It’s a building that would be great in any of many empty lots west of 16th Street or in the Railyard. In short, we need more housing, especially of the affordable kind, despite all the development in our neighborhood rental rates continue to rise, and that is something all generations can get behind, even us old fuddy duddy boomers.

James A Fitzpatrick, Sacramento

Silicon Valley

Re “If Silicon Valley is the knowledge work capital of the world, why does it have so many lousy jobs?” (California Forum, July 23): The point of the op-ed by author Rick Wartzman is that in an age of increasing opportunities for knowledge workers, our society is not doing enough to provide people with the skills to become one. I think this is the wrong approach. When humans moved into new geographical areas, we took advantage of the natural resources available in those areas, rather than trying to create resources that weren’t there. We have people who can show up to work on time and work hard. We need to create opportunities for them to use the skills in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the opportunity for them to use their skills in a profitable way has vanished, along with the movement of the factories in which they used to work. However, we have problems that need to be solved that don’t necessarily lead to financial profits: decaying inner cities, crime and overloaded social support systems. Think of how we could apply the skills of this underutilized group to deal with these and other problems in our society that are not being solved. Where would the physical presence of a person doing meaningful physical work help? How would we pay them? These are questions we need to be asking, rather than how to change them.

David O. McReynolds, Fair Oaks

Robot tax

Re “Prepare now to cope with the industrial jobs lost to robots” (California Forum, July 23): The Bee has done a great service in calling attention to the slow-breaking crisis of job displacement by automation, and I applaud the preparations to address it. The San Francisco robot tax initiative seems particularly forward-looking. But why do all the plans call for people to adjust to the machines? We have much more freedom to redesign machines than to redesign or re-purpose humans. Although it may provide less intriguing challenges for engineers, I suggest it would be more cost-effective as well as more humane to design machines that complement human abilities than to replace human mechanical work completely. To the extent that payrolls will be trimmed, we need to summon the political will to insist that much of the savings go to pay workers in areas that are now underserved. We have huge unmet needs for labor-intensive work caring for one another and for our environment.

Louise Mehler, Sacramento

Setting trends

Re “We like to be trend setters but maybe we live in a bubble” (California Forum, July 23): Writer Joe Mathews’ column about California being a bubble was the first piece in The Sacramento Bee about California climate policy that took an independent view and didn’t buy into the California-will-save-the-world smugness that has permeated past articles. Gov. Jerry Brown has sacrificed Californians’ economic well-being for his questionable legacy. California has the highest electric rates in the continental U.S., the highest gasoline prices and among the highest tax burdens. It can’t provide affordable housing for its residents. It is the least business-friendly state in the union and has driven almost every major industry to move out of state. The only industry thriving here is subsidized like Tesla Motors, but even Elon Musk didn’t locate his new battery factory in California. California’s cap-and-trade program will have no real impact on global warming and no one else is lining up to share California’s self- inflicted pain. Global problems require global solutions. But by treating this as a local issue, Brown is only serving his ego. He would do well to heed John Boehner’s adage that a leader without followers is just a man out for a walk.

Michael Bloom, Roseville

Messing with Texas

Re “Texas has lower crime, cleaner air” (California Forum, July 23): Writer Chuck DeVore, who scorns Deputy Editorial Page Editor Shawn Hubler in his op-ed, should re-read Hubler’s column about whether Texas is safe for her college-bound kid. Hubler echoes the concerns of Texas native and New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright. A caption accompanying his recent article reads: “Texas is as politically divided as the rest of the U.S., but a recurrent crop of crackpots and idealogues has fed its reputation for proud know-nothingism and retrograde thinking.” DeVore should read Wright’s article, too. Texas may have cleaner air. (Its population per square mile is less than half that of California, because more people want to live in California.) But its political atmosphere is toxic. In contrast to DeVore, Hubler observes both sides and concludes on a conciliatory note.

David S. Parker, Elk Grove

Workers’ comp

Re “Workers’ comp system is nation’s most costly” (California Forum, July 23): For once, Dan Walters has it right about government. The $20 billion cost of the workers’ compensation program could be greatly reduced if California were to pass the health care-for-all, single-payer legislation, which is now a two-year bill. Senate Bill 562, if enacted, could eliminate the workers’ compensation program. So, thank you Dan Walters, for helping make the case for single payer’s health insurance. Employers and unions would benefit and insurers and attorneys would need to find other sources of income. Medical providers also would benefit so long as they adhere to the law and aren’t fraudulent in their billings.

Sharon Kurth, Lincoln

Single payer

The California Legislature failed us on the cost-saving and humane SB 562 single-payer health care. My brother was afraid of losing his health care coverage through his full-time employment. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, he returned to work. For years, he fed himself with nighttime liquid tube feedings into a hole in his abdomen. Although he deteriorated, he kept working. He was so skinny. He’d lunch with his colleagues, accountants too, but not eat, saying: “At least I can smell it.” He got to a point where, from his car in the parking lot to his office, he’d take a few steps, crouch down like a frog, rest and then get back up again, hunch forward and propel himself a few feet more. It took him 30 minutes to get to his desk. He even continued to do this when he had a portable oxygen machine. The cancer returned and he kept working. He was on “vacation” when he died. Why do we put up with this very extremely sick health care system?

Patricia Johnson, R.N., Carmichael

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