Letters to the editor
Anything goes? No
Re “Keeping L.A.’s signs vital,” Critic’s Notebook, March 26
Is there anything that makes Los Angeles look more like Podunk than the proliferation of gigantic Lady Liberties?
Is it true that Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne cannot tell the difference between an April Greiman mural, a Thom Mayne graphic and a Pepsi building wrap that is big enough to be seen from outer space?
To defend any large graphic mounted in public space as somehow part of the cultural patrimony of Los Angeles is to succumb to the banal idea that anything goes -- an idea that Los Angeles should outgrow.
What’s good for GM
Re “White House ousts GM leader,” March 30
The last time I checked, personnel actions within a private corporation were governed by a board of directors and shareholders. As a General Motors shareholder, I do not appreciate the president dictating the dismissal of GM chief Rick Wagoner.
This is a private matter. Just as we have separation of church and state in this country, we also need to honor the tradition of the separation of public and private entities. This is just one more step toward nationalization.
Re “Plea for carmaker bailout backfires,” March 29
It’s sad watching our major automakers slip into history with a tin cup in their hands. Over time, these giant automakers built up costly executive hierarchies and frittered away their competitive advantage to foreign brands that ate their lunch in the U.S. marketplace.
Because we taxpayers are stuck in the default position as lenders of last resort, we should clamor to “cut ‘em back or cut ‘em off” and force reevaluation of such layered executive sweeteners as bonuses, hiring inducements and golden parachutes.
Roger A. Wells
Healthcare and the profit motive
Re “Help for healthcare reform,” editorial, March 27
Health insurers insisting they have the “same objectives as consumer groups, doctors, hospitals and the government” is disingenuous. Most insurers are for-profit companies whose primary goal is to pay high dividends to shareholders.
Healthcare is essential to the welfare of all Americans. No portion of medical insurance premiums or other patient payments should be managed to generate a profit for shareholders, because that creates conflicts of interest between the patient and the insurer and its directors.
The healthcare industry complains that it cannot compete with government. Government is not the most efficient provider around, but at least its primary mandate isn’t returning profits to its owners. A nonprofit healthcare system can return the maximum amount possible to direct patient care, using only a reasonable amount to cover claims processing and administration.
Robert L. Schaffer
Perhaps the lobbyists for private industry, those fearsome advocates of competition, can explain how their opposition to competition for the healthcare dollar with Medicare (with its low overhead) is consistent with their idea of a real marketplace?
And perhaps they can also explain how their idea of the marketplace should make it acceptable that the consumer be mandated to purchase policies that make so much of their premium dollars disappear into the private insurance company morass of advertising, outrageous executive compensation and shareholder dividends?
Alfred M. Sils
Insurance companies are free to sell insurance to those with expensive medical needs at the same rate as other policyholders. That is a business decision. Of course that will necessarily increase premiums for those who now have insurance.
You are correctly concerned about mandatory insurance. Once everyone is required to buy it, politicians will not be able to resist adding even more coverage requirements than we have today, to serve the high-cost providers that are their political clients.
There are things the government could stop doing that would bring down the cost of insurance. Instead, the only way the political class will be able to provide insurance to those without it will be to make it more expensive for everyone else.
Richard E. Ralston
The writer is executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.
It’s all about creditworthiness
Re “Bond ratings ignore reality,” Column, March 26
George Skelton misses some important points in his column about California’s credit rating.
First, credit ratings are assessments of creditworthiness -- primarily, the likelihood of default. In general, Standard & Poor’s ratings for municipal debt reflect the relatively strong credit quality of municipal issuers.
Although the likelihood that, for example, either Beverly Hills (rated AAA) or Stockton (A+) will default may be low, that does not mean that both municipalities deserve the same rating, nor that neither would ever default. Their credit profiles and economic fundamentals differ.
A rating system should reflect these differences to help investors make decisions. Even though the ultimate risk may be small, in our opinion, California is more at risk of default than higher-rated states.
Second, while it is true that historically California investors have purchased a high proportion of California debt, that is primarily because of the tax benefits.
The writer is executive vice president, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.
Deserts or parking lots?
Re “For Feinstein, environment trumps clean-energy plans,” March 25
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is right to insist on protecting California’s deserts from industrial solarization. People who care about California’s natural lands are not going to sit by idly while rare habitat is converted to industrial energy production so folks in the city can heat their hot tubs.
The governor said: “If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where the hell we can put it.” In Southern California, cars bake in the sun on thousands of acres of parking lots -- biological wastelands “shovel ready” for solar panels. How about there?
Re “A duel in the desert?,” editorial, and “Let a thousand filaments bloom,” Opinion, March 27
We cannot wait for perfect solutions to curb fossil-fuel use. Economic fear-mongering should not paralyze us.
There are timely solutions that can help the economy. Large-scale solar projects will provide employment. Requiring utilities to pay for homeowner-generated power would kick-start homeowner investments in installing solar panels. And a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be an effective way to encourage technology and curb emissions.
These three options should be on the table now.
Amy Hoyt Bennett
It’s still stealing
Re “State consumer chief quits amid cost questions,” March 28
Which criminal is more blatant, the one who burglarizes in broad daylight or the public official who fleeces the taxpayer under the cover of “expenses”?
Carrie Lopez, the now-resigned director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, should be facing criminal charges for stealing.
This sort of behavior only escalates when there are no consequences for unethical behavior.
Keep digging, Times, until you have unearthed every one of these officials who find it so easy to dip into the public trough to satisfy their greed.
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