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Letters to the Editor published Feb. 20, 2013
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Hard work is not what we seem to value

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Along with many Americans, I watched President Obama's State of the Union speech last week. He is probably the most eloquent speaker that many of us have ever heard. He makes salient points on many issues that concern us, such as gun control and global warming. I do, however, have a few questions on some of his open-ended thoughts.

The first question I have is the definition of a "decent living." President Obama states that all those that work full time should be able to have a decent standard of living. If my family is any indication of the trouble defining this elusive concept, it will be all but impossible to do on a federal level. Here is an example to which many of us can relate.

When my son was 10 years old he wanted a Sharks windbreaker for his winter jacket. The windbreaker cost $65. I knew that it would not serve well as a winter jacket and he would be cold all winter. That did not matter to him because the Sharks were his team of choice and the logo was important to him. I explained to him that the Sharks logo did not make the jacket a good value, and that it would not keep him warm. After a big fight and tears I told my son that I was not buying a jacket for him that didn't do the job he needed it to do. I was living decently because my child could be warm in a new jacket. He was not living decently because he didn't have a jacket with a Sharks logo...and I think he was cold a lot because he wouldn't wear the warm coat I got him unless absolutely necessary. How will we define "decent"? Will there be a government standard?

The second definition I have concern about is "works hard." A lot of people in this country work hard. Fast-food workers, store clerks, Mr. Pickles sign holders....but what is the value of their contribution? Society places a value on the results of a worker's labor. Entry-level, low-skill jobs pay close to minimum wage. A sales clerk at Nordstrom can earn $40K while a marital counselor can earn $80K. Petroleum engineers start at about $122K and doctors average around $200K. The marketplace puts a value on the contributions these folks make to our society. It is harsh to skills that are abundant and good to skills that are scarce. The marketplace is not some independent mechanism that works without our input. We make the choices that drive the results. It reflects our values. Phil Mickelson makes about $47 million a year and Oprah Winfrey makes $290 million a year. We make the choices that make the marketplace, so how much influence does the government have? Phil and Oprah don't get any subsidies. It seems out of whack but ...

Anyway, hard work does not seem to be what we value. Smart work is what we value and it would seem that any subsidy of hard work takes away the incentive of people to work smarter. Will a minimum-wage increase help? Typically the market corrects itself. Remember the dot com boom? Almost every coffee shop and fast food store in the East Bay was raising wages and advertising for help at well over the minimum wage. When skills are scarce the wages go up. When wages are forced up artificially several things happen. Companies "do more with less." Full-time jobs turn into part-time jobs and complements are reduced. Reality is that the manager's bonus program didn't change and he has to find solutions so he can meet the goals and keep his wages from dropping.

The marketplace is an unemotional and sometimes cruel mentor but left alone it will allow people, the vast majority of whom I believe to be intelligent, to make good decisions about their future. Phil and Oprah did.

Mark Laurora

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Citizens for Ceres not disclosing source of cash

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Once again "Citizens for Ceres," the anti Wal-Mart group, dodges the real question of who is financing their clandestine operation. As Courier editor Jeff Benziger points out in his editorial, the group is represented by the notorious Brett Jolley, aka the "Wal-Mart slayer." Hiring the best anti Wal-Mart attorney in the state can't come cheap. As the editorial pointed out, many of Jolley's lawsuits have lasted five to 10 years. So let's do the math, shall we? Let's assume that Jolley devotes a mere eight hours a week at $250 an hour, a very modest fee for one of the state's top attorneys. By this calculation, the group led by Sheri Jacobson will be paying over $100,000 year in legal fees. Over five years, legal bills will reach half a million dollars and reach $1 million if their lawsuit lasts 10 years!

I say stop the lawsuit now and donate all this money to local youth or education programs instead. Such an effort would be of greater benefit to our community than fighting a project widely supported by the public. But, sadly this will not happen because their lawsuit is not about protecting or improving our community; it is about protecting some undisclosed benefactor. So, I join the Ceres Courier in asking again - who is paying the legal bills to deny our community a Walmart Supercenter and jobs? I want to know now. I can't wait 10 years for an answer. Until Citizens for Ceres fully discloses who they truly represent, they are in no position to criticize the Courier's investigative journalism.

Gary Rambaran,


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Even with no guns, people would still be killing others

Editor, Ceres Courier,

What I'm about to say here, about controlling gun violence and killings may sound a little extreme but I assure you that if it were done there would be no more gun violence and people killing people.

The goal here would be to remove all the guns off the face of the earth and melting them down and destroy the ability to manufacture them. But then we would still have the problem of people killing people, with knives, clubs, rocks, spears, bow and arrows and various other ways, as they have done since the beginning of mankind. If you look in the first book of the Bible it states there in that Cain slew Abel. This is the first record of man killing man. So you see to stop this killing, all mankind would have to be removed from the face of the earth. This sounds extreme and un-realistic.

Let's think realistic: Can guns of any kind with their high-capacity clips in by itself kill a person or anything? I'm 78 years old and I have yet to hear of a gun taking it upon itself to go and kill anything. The gun is just a piece of steel until it is in the hands of a person to load aim and fire it. Yes in the wrong hands the gun can be a vicious weapon for killing. There are many other ways to kill people besides the guns that are just as vicious. You can read in the papers just about every day the various ways these people kill.

Who are these people that do these vicious killings? They are the mentality deranged people, criminals, terrorists, gangs, serial killers, suicide bombers, and assassins, not the ordinary citizen. No amount of gun control and background check is going to stop them, they are totally committed to their crimes.

The question here is how to stop this senseless killing. It's like a cancer we have to stop or control it somehow. How we do this without trumping on the rights and privileges of the ordinary citizen, is the greatest problem we face. In-spite of all the laws and regulations we have passed these killings continue to take place. We are looking at new proposed laws and regulations, but they seem to take away more rights and privileges from law-abiding citizens and don't do a thing in the way of stopping these killers. These killers don't answer to any laws, regulation, or background checks.

It seems like the citizen is penalized every time these people go on their killing spree. They not only kill our loved ones but then we have to pay their legal fees after they're caught and then pay for their incarceration. We then run a gauntlet of gun laws, regulations and penalties. To make matters worse they get to go on living, while their victims will never achieve their potential in life.

The question here is how to stop the gun violence. A better question would be how to stop people from killing people whether they use a gun or by any other means. These killers were killing long before the gun came along. Gun violence only exits because of these killers. The answer to either of these questions has been sought after for many years. There seems to be no easy answers but we must keep trying.

T.C. Brown

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LETTERS POLICY: Letters to the editor will be considered for publication but must be signed with the author's name, address and telephone number. Letters should contain 250 words or less and be void of libelous statements. Letters may be sent to The Ceres Courier, 138 S. Center Street, Turlock CA 95380 or emailed to