Readers comments 2-20-15

Economic inequality forum

Dear Editor:

The American Institute for Progressive Democracy ( is a think-tank based in Claremont that examines and does public education about important issues of public policy that have major effects on everyone.

In recent years, TAIPD has organized forums open to the public on such topics as healthcare insurance, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare), water scarcity and solutions in California and across the world, and on the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on the electoral process in the US. TAIPD also publishes an online quarterly journal entitled Progressive Democracy with articles dealing with a broad array of public policy issues.

TAIPD is now planning a two-part public forum focusing on the issue of economic inequality in America. By all accounts, the disparity in both income and wealth between the richest households in the US and the vast majority of the American people has been getting worse and worse. This trend began in the mid-1970s, but has accelerated in the last decade. There is now a great deal of debate across the political spectrum about why this is occurring and what can be done to reverse this trend. 

There is growing evidence that while the economic productivity of American workers has been increasing steadily in the last 40 years, the wages being paid to these workers has stagnated, while corporate profits—especially of the largest firms and in the financial sector—have been going up rapidly. Moreover, this situation has translated into extraordinary increases in the income and wealth of the richest one percent, while the economic welfare of the 99 percent has deteriorated. 

Most of those injured are white, but certain groups have disproportionately felt the burden of these trends. These are especially the Latino, African American and Native American communities, as well as single mothers in all communities. So it seemed timely to organize public forums to explore these problems and what might be done to reduce inequality.

The forum will be presented in two sessions on March 3 and March 31, both at 7:30 p.m. in the Rose Hills Theater at Pomona College in Claremont.

On March 3, the focus will be on Economic Inequality in America: Causes, Consequences and Remedies. Four nationally-known experts will explore different aspects of this problem, why it is occurring and possible solutions, and then respond to questions from the audience.

Then, on March 31, the focus will be on Economic Inequality in America: The Impact on Diverse Communities. At this session, experts and activists from the Latino, African American and Native American communities, plus an outstanding scholar who focuses on the plight of women and families across American society, will examine the impact of this growing inequality on these groups and what can be done to improve their situations. Again, there will be ample time for questions, answers and discussion.

These events are free and open to the public. We urge everyone who is concerned about economic inequality to come, learn more, and discuss possible remedies.  Refreshments will be served.  For more information about the speakers, parking and directions, visit the website or email to 

Andy Winnick

President, The American Institute

for Progressive Democracy


To frack or not to frack

Dear Editor:

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times dated February 11 was about the health hazards of fracking.

Fracking is a technological method of extracting oil from old oil wells as well as separating oil from shale.

State oil and gas regulators have admitted that California has allowed oil companies to inject into our aquifers fracking flowback water. This flowback water contains large amounts of benzene. Benzene is a highly flammable, carcinogenic substance found in oil and in our gasoline. It has been shown that benzene can lead to leukemia, anemia and bone marrow failure. Benzine has been found in wells at a level of 700 times greater than what federal standards permit.

The injection of this hazardous material was alleged to be inadvertent. An investigation should take place to find out if, in fact, it was inadvertent. This alleged oversight has put the citizens of California at risk.

Ladies and gentlemen, even though we are enjoying lower prices at the pump when we fill up our cars, it is not worth the cost to our health. Yes, we are producing a lot more oil in California and in America, but if we are putting benzene into our aquifers, what are we really doing? We are putting our health at risk. It is time to put a moratorium on fracking.

Gar Byrum



Say no to Keystone

Dear Editor:

The League of Women Voters has been fighting to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline because it is a threat to our public health and a contributor to climate change. Congress will soon send legislation to President Obama that approves the pipeline. President Obama has already issued a threat to veto this legislation, and he needs to hear that you support his decision.

The pipeline will threaten the safety of our drinking water, promote a bad energy policy and increase greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, contributing to climate change. This venture is all risk, no reward. While Congress continues to put the interest of polluters ahead of ordinary Americans, the president can fulfill his commitment to people not polluters. We need to tell the president we support his veto of the pipeline.

The League has long fought battles to protect clean air and water and prevent pollution that contributes to climate change. We are proud to stand in support of the president’s Climate Action Plan, which limits dangerous greenhouse gases from power plants and establishes resiliency efforts. Approving the pipeline would directly counter steps he has taken to protect public health and safeguard our environment.

The League supports President Obama’s fight against climate change, including a veto of the Keystone legislation. Let President Obama know you support a veto of the legislation to approve the pipeline. 

Ellen Taylor

League of Women

Voters of the Claremont Area


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