Readers comments 12.15.12
The lies from Golden State
You can’t have it both ways. Recently, Golden State Water stated that, “Claremont uses much more water than their neighbors.”
Yet when Claremont residents conserve water, we are charged with a Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) fee. We get WRAM surcharges on a monthly basis. GSW continues to lie, and they mis-remember the lies they spew.
Farrell left early
I attended the entire CUSD School Board meeting on December 6. I was accompanied by a Claremont High School senior who was completing an assignment for his government class at CHS.
I would like to note that President Jeff Stark did call on Joe Farrell for public comment, but Mr. Farrell had already left the meeting at that point.
Also, Mr. Farrell states in his Letter to the Editor that “several individuals” were prepared to speak on the tabled topic, but no one else came forward at the meeting when public comment was invited by President Stark.
I think it is disingenuous of Mr. Farrell to accuse President Stark of ignoring input from the staff and community members or skipping over an entire agenda item. Maybe next time, Mr. Farrell should stay for the entire meeting so he doesn’t miss anything important.
Soaking the rich
I would like to add a few commenst to Scott Grannis’ letter of December 12 regarding the “Buffet plan” advanced by Warren Buffet.
The “plan” proposes to tax all income over $1,000,000 at 30 percent, regardless of deductions or the particular source of the income, be it wages, dividends, etc. Buffet’s support of this soak-the-rich strategy has been eagerly taken up by those who believe that making the rich pay their “fair share” will solve all our fiscal woes. It’s hard to ignore advice from the third richest man in the world.
But before anybody gets too excited about Buffet’s plan, let’s look at the numbers. The nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee of Taxation estimates that the Buffet Plan will raise about $5.1 billion. Given that the federal budget is going to be about $3.803 trillion, the Buffet plan will raise enough money to cover the federal budget for about 11 hours. Not days, hours.
If Warren Buffet (or President Obama) is suggesting that this is going to be a panacea for our current budget problems, then I think he is being intentionally deceptive.
As Mr. Grannis points out, the solution to our fiscal problems has to be spending cuts. You can tax the rich as much as you want and you are simply not going to put a dent in that $3.803 trillion budget. It’s the budget that need a haircut, not the rich.
I find it interesting that a number of the readers enjoy bashing the Republican party. They obviously enjoy living under the Obama administration and in an entitlement state.
No longer is it necessary for individuals to plan for and cope with tough times and take responsibility for their own lives.
It’s one thing for the state to provide assistance for infrastructure or the low-income people such as those whose lives were wrecked as a result of Katrina. But it’s quite another for upper income people on Long Island to be standing there after Sandy with their hands out to the Obama administration rather than sacrifice the buying of a new car or toys such as boats, instead of purchasing insurance for unforeseen calamities.
What happened to the phrase, “It’s a waste of time.” Was it swallowed by a video game?
But video games improve hand-eye coordination. They also shorten one’s attention span and don’t teach our youth how to read rulers, which is a problem in today’s construction industry. But, then again, why learn how to read a ruler, or acquire a skill, when you have entitlements.
Recently, there was an apparently articulate person behind the counter in Starbuck’s here in Claremont who, when I asked for a coffee 75 percent decaf and 25 percent regular, did not understand what I meant by the percentages. But that person could tweet.
Unfortunately, Twitter does not prepare one for life problems or the skills for the workplace. But then, who needs them when there are entitlements.
Then there are the costs imposed by our government on businesses.
US Steel did not re-tool because of the numerous regulations and the cost of compliance. But the government didn’t care about the loss of jobs in the steel industry to places like China because all it had to do was pay out entitlements.
What happened with US Steel is more than applicable to today’s small businesses with an even greater number of unnecessary, bureaucratic regulations and threatened higher taxes and governmental costs.
But businesses don’t get entitlements—unless, of course, they are in an elite class preferred by our president that can’t make it on their own.
In 1890, the number of paupers in the United States was 1166 per 1 million in population. Today, up to 35 percent of our population is on food stamps and 95 percent of these people own color TVs and cell phones.
For our cornucopia of entitlements, we can thank Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, and our current president who, while visiting his father’s grave in Kenya, personally promised his family (by his father) that he would help them out of poverty. But they never, ever heard anything from him again.
It appears that our president is unwilling to share his not insignificant wealth to help his family who live in real poverty, but he is willing to make us spend what money we have to promote endless entitlements and the end of self-reliance.
C. Robert Ferguson
Who is Marko Mlikotin?
After reading the December 18 ViewPoint, we’re interested to find out how Marko Mlikotin inserted himself into the Claremont water discussion. It was not by attending any city council meetings.
When the water situation has been discussed at city council meetings, city council has emphatically stated that it was entirely likely that rates would not decrease, nor did they expect rates to decrease. They stated that at best, they would stay static.
The whole point of purchasing the water system was to stop double-digit rate increases, to slow the rate of water price increases. All we’ve ever wanted are fair and reasonable water rates. Our surrounding cities validate that we are being charged excessively.
And GSW reminds us quarterly at their earnings announcements of their record profits and long history of increased dividends to shareholders. Sure, rates will rise—they always do, but not at double-digit rates as Golden State would like to do.
As for the city not disclosing their innermost secrets to the COURIER, why would you? The city is negotiating to purchase a water system whose price will be hotly contested. Why would you make public how you reached your offer amount?
As far as the League of Women Voters’ cost estimate, $200 million over 30 years at a 6 percent interest cost implies a $92 million purchase price. We like the fact that the city’s first offer is half that as that makes sense. Mr. Mlikotin then goes on to talk about Felton. Felton took over their water system in 2008, just 4 years ago. He mentions the additional cost for property owners is $535 more annually to pay for the bonds.
What he doesn’t mention is that in 2002, when Felton’s system was taken over by a water company conglomerate like American States Water, they proposed to the PUC a 74 percent rate increase! The PUC, in their wisdom, reduced that amount to only 44 percent. It took Felton 6 years, but they did get control of their water. Frankly, 3 increases in 4 years is something we would look forward to. It beats an annual increase, which is what we have had with GSW.
So, who is Mr. Mlikotin? Is he a Claremont property owner? If so, fine, we are too. If not, why is he so interested? We’re impressed that he wants to protect private property rights but, unless his property is in Claremont, we have no interest in his opinion.
As far as we’re concerned, if it makes sense for the city to purchase the water system, then we will vote for that. If it does not make sense and it is not financially feasible for the city to make the purchase, then we can assure you that we will not vote for the acquisition. Only time will tell.
Outrageous Water Rates
The rich, very rich and taxes
When we discuss the fairness of taxation in America it is worth keeping the following numbers in mind:
The top one percent own 40 percent of the nations wealth.
The top one percent take home 24 percent of the national income.
The top one percent have an average income of $1.5 million.
The dividing line between the one percent and the 99 percent (in terms of income) is about $350,000 (2011).
The worth of the average household is almost $500,000, but the mean value is only $77,000.
The median household income (100 percent of households) is about $50,000 (2011).
But the bottom 50 percent of households have a median wage of only $27,000. (2011)
The bottom 50 percent of of households in America control one percent of the nation’s wealth.
Defenders of the current tax code assert that there is nowhere near enough revenue to be found by taxing the wealthy at higher rates. But as these figures suggest, there is almost nothing at the bottom ($27,000) and a great deal of surplus at the top ($1.5 million).
The very rich own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Raising their tax rates, especially the rate on capital gains, will produce significant revenue.
How much more tax revenue does Mr. Grannis think can reasonably be extracted from this bottom 50 percent (who currently pay about 2 percent of the federal tax burden?
Mr. Grannis goes on to complain about Proposition 30. Proposition 30 will raise California state income tax rates one to 3 percent on the top 3 percent of taxpayers in California—and only for 7 years. Overwhelmed by this additional burden, Mr. Grannis speculates that the business community will flee the state.
In my view, we can either raise the wages of the bottom 50 percent or tax the excessive wealth of the one percent.
Big Bridges and Jay Doty
Walking across the Pomona College campus today, as I often do, I was admiring my favorite building in town, Bridges Auditorium, “Big Bridges.”
As I traveled down memory lane all the way back to 1971, I thought of all the amazing programs I had experienced there, as a student, parent and plain old citizen: world class artists, symphony orchestras, political leaders, actors and actresses, poets, philosophers, intellectuals of all stripes…and, of course, the annual Nutcracker holiday show.
And I remembered Jay Doty. Jay was a friend, colleague and neighbor over the years. It is still hard for me to distinguish clearly between Bridges and Jay. I must say, it looks like him to me and probably will for the duration. He was actually director twice in Bridges’ storied history.
By the time Jay first came to Bridges, he was known by virtually everyone in town as a leading local citizen, friend of the arts and proprietor of the eponymous Jay Doty’s music store in the Village.
Still reminiscing, I got home, opened the COURIER, and read his daughter Janet’s eloquent memoir and challenge.
An old priest friend of mine would have asked rhetorically, “Do you think that was an accident?” I don’t know, but it was a pleasure.
Sincere thanks, Janet. My favorite memory of working with Jay was sometime back in the ancient 1980s after Jil Stark had twisted my arm (it wasn’t a bit painful!), convincing me to chair a fundraising subcommittee of the then new Joslyn Senior Center. We collected an all -star lineup of local movers and shakers who wanted to put on a show. How about a really big show in Bridges? How about Ella Fitzgerald?
So we did it, after Jay went to work and —voila!—Ella committed! What a show it was! The gorgeous old auditorium was full of Claremonters, students, faculty and visitors. Ella gave us our money’s worth. And more.
In spite of the success of the show and how hard a lot of people worked, when we counted the pennies, we came up short. But then Jay had an idea. Jay knew Ella and her manager, and so he called them up and asked Ella to donate a large chunk of her hefty fee to the Joslyn Center. After some master class haggling on Jay’s part, they agreed and everyone went home happy. So we can say without exaggeration, the senior center is the House That Ella Helped Build!
We could not have done any of it without Jay Doty. He was more than “director,” he was a true friend of Claremont and the Colleges, an impresario with a big heart and just a touch of chutzpah!
We have this great treasure, Bridges Auditorium, that has served the Colleges and our wonderful town from their early twinned beginnings as one of the brightest spots in American higher education.
May Big Bridges continue to serve the Colleges and community. May it ever remain as the jewel box in our midst that Janet described.