Letters To The Editor 11/18/2018

November 18, 2018 GMT

Wages stuck in neutral

Editor: No doubt the best metric for the economic well-being of most Americans is average inflation-adjusted hourly pay.

Despite all the pronouncements from the Trump administration about how great our economy is performing, the hourly pay metric is in a slump. Workers face many obstacles to increase their hourly pay: Companies are larger and more powerful than they used to be; unions are weaker and because of Trump’s policies, the federal government keeps siding against workers.

Despite the increase in corporate profits, nominal wages — the numbers

working people see in their paychecks, before accounting for inflation — are growing at a very modest rate. Most workers don’t receive their fair share of the economic output. An outsized share instead flows to corporate profits and the wealthy through higher stock market prices.

The modest growth in nominal wages can’t, by itself, buy a higher standard of living because the prices of goods and services have risen faster than nominal wages. Higher oil prices have contributed to a growth in inflation. The growing global economy boosts the demand for oil as events in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela have reduced the supply. America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has further destabilized oil prices.

The stagnation in real wages brought about by a surge in inflation and

only modest increases in nominal wage growth could be called a “Trump slump.” After all he promised workers during the 2016 campaign he is presiding over a real wage growth of zero.





Cruelty basis of policy

Editor: President Teddy Roosevelt had the Square Deal, Franklin Roosevelt had the New Deal and Harry Truman, the Fair Deal. The Trump presidency should go down in history as the administration of the cruel deal.

Just when it seems the administration has plumbed the lowest depths of bigotry, intolerance, inhumanity and unethical behavior, it sinks lower. Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services want to overturn biological and psychological principles by defining a person’s gender at birth to pander to a political base noted for being ignorant, intolerant and prejudicial by ignoring physical, chemical and hormonal variables that affect sexual development.

They are not just scientifically wrong. They want to fan the flames of another culture war to the detriment of a legitimate American minority.

Years ago I taught a young person who was not just a top-notch student and stellar athlete but one of the most honest, ethical and moral students I encountered in my 36-year teaching career. This student possessed a true moral code. Over the past few years, it was clear the student was not comfortable about gender and was confused and unhappy. After lengthy soul searching, a decision to transition was made.

After completing the journey the student felt as if a dark cloud had been lifted and was happier with a new persona. This accomplished professional has a medical degree and is a research fellow at the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

My former student is still the same upright, ethical individual who contributes positively to society and has a stronger moral compass than many in the current administration.

The administration’s decision is the latest cruel action visited upon American minorities simply because they do not fit in the base that supports right-wing political and cultural fanatics.



Carnage’s personal impact

Editor: There have been mass shootings in yoga studios, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, grocery stores, churches and synagogues, theaters, concerts, day care centers, newsrooms, airports, bars and nightclubs. This is more than enough.

The recent mass shooting at a bar in California hits personally. My sister’s office was next door to the Borderline Bar on Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. My brother raised his family there.

Thousand Oaks is one of this country’s safest and most livable cities. Yet today no location seems off limits to the numbing, horrifying carnage perpetuated by warped minds that can be armed and dangerous. It seems counterintuitive but Harvard professor Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” correctly states that violence worldwide is down. Still, action must be taken.

Let us start by enacting comprehensive background checks on gun buyers in order to identify at-risk individuals. We need more stringent mental evaluations of potential shooters and easier access to mental health treatment.

This isn’t about taking away any guns. It isn’t about the perpetual war machine and all its “collateral” damage and the desensitizing effects of violence. It’s about being smart, being human and staying alive.




Participation essential

Editor: Nationwide, 85 percent of eligible Americans are registered to vote, but only 49 percent actually voted in the general election.

A majority of votes determines who runs our governments, yet that majority represented only 21 percent of eligible Americans.

If you didn’t vote, don’t complain about government policy. If you think all politicians are corrupt and you didn’t vote your politician out of office, you are part of the corruption.

Many nonvoters don’t like to talk about politics or public policy. This hinders our democracy’s intention to represent the will of the people on issues like government services, environmental protection, taxation, jobs, economic prosperity, civil rights and personal safety. Nonvoters probably don’t read letters to the editor, either.

Where can someone go to have civil discussions about the public policies that affect us? We should create attractive venues, where expressing political opinions and hearing others’ views could be a civic pleasure.

Participation by informed voters is necessary to prevent authoritarian rule by rich bullies.