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Back-and-forth over a California budget; working for free; immigration reform

The environment and the state budget

Re “GOP sees leverage in budget vote,” March 16

So California can’t get a budget because not a single Republican will vote for it unless the Democrats agree to cut environmental protections, even though California voted for more Democrats than Republicans in the Legislature.

So why is the budget process stalemated? Silly me, I thought I learned in elementary school that a majority was 51%. But no, the Jarvisites convinced Californians that a majority was really 67% and gave it a new name, “supermajority.” Republicans really like supermajority math because, they say, it protects the minority — like the “super rich” maybe?

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So what protects the majority? Silly me again. I thought our founders had given us a Constitution to protect us all.

Leon Schwartz

Altadena

It plays to form that Republican state legislators are trying to use the budget crisis in California to weaken the state’s environmental laws.

For Republicans, everything takes a back seat to profits, and environmental protection costs money. Ultimately, though, without a healthy natural environment, everything else is nonsense.

Richard E. Parr

Santa Monica

Over the last few years there has been much derision about legislators who sign a no-tax pledge. What about those who constantly call for raising taxes?

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Voters who permit more tax hikes deserve to go bankrupt right along with this overtaxed state.

Bobby Florentz

La Habra

When you work but don’t get paid

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Re “Come meet the new intern — she’s 40,” Business, March 15

What we are seeing is a new tier of workers: highly skilled Americans willing to work for free. The best way I can think of describing them is the “bone-collar worker.”

I strongly believe that one of the reasons employers are not creating jobs is that healthcare costs are consuming revenue that would otherwise be spent on paychecks.

Until our country dashes the health insurance industry, which can legally raise premiums again and again, employers can make excuses as to why they can’t afford new hires — and professionals like Ashley St. Johns-Jacobs can’t expect a paycheck.

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Janelle Commins

Santa Monica

As if we needed another reminder of how desperate job seekers are. The interns profiled seem intelligent. Can they be so unaware that they are being used?

Family members who are looking for work have showed me far too many posts on Craigslist for job “vacancies.” The posts describe the duties and expectations of the business. Just don’t expect to be paid.

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To the lawyer, the baker and the medical assistant: Yes, these are historically tough times. But perpetuating a flawed system by offering your work for free means employers have zero incentive to actually add a paid position.

Mark Diniakos

Thousand Oaks

This is why we are having difficulty finding jobs — people like those in the Los Angeles city attorney’s office who are working for nothing, which makes it harder for people like me who are looking for jobs that pay.

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Lolly Hellman

Los Angeles

Bank fee or bust

Re “BofA fee violates spirit of reforms,” Business, March 15

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Excuse me? Sue Laman is “typical of millions of consumers who have had no choice but to run up staggering card balances as the economy has worked its way through an ugly recession”? Really?

She could have gone without purchases like normal people do. What kind of reporting is this?

Steve Kneass

Banning

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David Lazarus is right. Bank of America’s $59 annual credit card fee charged to Laman doesn’t reduce her risk to the bank. In fact it increases her risk. It pushes her $59 closer to missing a payment and therefore a late payment fee. Bankers are smart.

Lawrence Pleasant

Gardena

DREAM again

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Re “Immigration, state by state,” Editorial, March 14

Indeed out of frustration, the states are creating their own immigration rules. Both Republicans and Democrats will not decide on a comprehensive solution. They are afraid because of political reasons.

The DREAM Act is a perfect example. Here you have young illegal immigrants, many of whom came to the U.S. when they were babies and have no recollection of their native country. They attend college and are willing to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet there is no path to legalization for them. It was blocked by a Senate filibuster last year.

This makes no sense, as the bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal immigrants who meet certain standards. Later, they could obtain temporary residency for a probation period of six years.

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Now I ask you: Why would anyone in Congress want to block the DREAM Act? It’s just plain mean.

Alba Farfaglia

San Clemente

Arms races

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Re “You can’t cut that,” Opinion, March 15

In response to some pleas to reduce military spending, Michael Kinsley states, “It is absolutely essential to spend whatever is necessary to keep our country safe, and a total waste to spend a nickel more.”

To help us decide what is a waste, we should differentiate clearly between “defense spending” and “offense spending.” Do we really need our military in several countries? If so, our leaders need to provide more information than telling us that it’s a nasty world out there.

Can we get along with a $350-billion military budget, which greatly exceeds that of all other nations, rather than the $670-billion one that has been proposed? Or, to justify more increases, will we soon be locked in an arms race with China, which, emulating us, has recently increased its “defense” budget?

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Seymour Levin

Los Angeles

Missing judges

Re “Senior judges keep courts open,” March 14

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This article is a trenchant commentary on the impoverished state of federal judicial selection. The dedication of excellent jurists like Betty Fletcher, a senior judge for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and her other senior colleagues is remarkable.

However, operating without all of the active judges authorized by Congress for protracted periods exacts a toll. It is past time for Democrats and Republicans to end the confirmation wars, as well as to fill the three 9th Circuit vacancies and the nearly 100 nationwide.

Carl Tobias

Richmond, Va.

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The writer is a law professor at the University of Richmond.


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