Earning their keep? Not in Bell
Re "Bell council was paid for boards that seldom met," Aug. 25
I propose that the words "earn," "earned" and "earning" be banned from articles discussing the compensation of Bell city officials.
In the future, please report that those officials have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, not that they have earned those amounts, because what the officials have earned and what they have been paid are entirely unrelated to one another.
Though it is well established that those officials have received outrageous amounts of money from the city of Bell, it is also obvious that they have failed to perform services of sufficient value to have merited or earned the money they have been paid.
In fact, it appears to me that, had these city officials been paid based on the economic value of the services they rendered to the citizens of Bell, they would be living well below the poverty level.
The Times' characterization of the shockingly inflated payments to these officials as having been "earned" by them legitimizes the officials' misconduct and obscures the deceptions perpetrated on the citizens of Bell.
Spreading the wealth
Re "It's time to spread corporate wealth," Column, Aug. 25
As usual, Michael Hiltzik is the voice of wisdom. The only way to bolster our weak economy is to concentrate on the health and wealth of the working class — the consumer class,
When Henry Ford decided to pay his workers enough that they themselves could afford to drive his automobiles, he created a healthy market that was once the envy of the rest of the world. What we have now is a nightmare of joblessness, rampant homelessness and fear of the future. Protecting the right of a few individuals to grow richer has ruined a once-thriving economy.
Instead of insisting that corporate taxes remain low and workers agree to lower wages and fewer benefits, we should be demanding a return to the progressive income tax that fairly levies high taxes on rich individuals and corporations, and reintroducing public policy to protect labor and punish companies that outsource jobs. As Hiltzik says: "When no one can afford to buy, no one has customers."
Gloria J. Richards
The cash belongs to the corporations, which, in turn, belong to the shareholders.
Are you proposing that this cash just be given away? Dividends and stock buybacks would be a more prudent use.
Corporations are not hiring because consumers are not spending. It is that simple. Why aren't consumers spending? There is too much uncertainty about the future.
We do not know what government will do with taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, the deficit and wars and unrest in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the government would lay out a plan that we can believe, some of the uncertainties would be relieved.
The corporations are cash rich at this point because they trimmed their workforces and related spending when they saw the danger coming. If federal, state and municipal governments had done the same, they would not be begging for cash.
Kevin M. Minihan
Hiltzik has a valid recommendation: Corporations should use surplus cash to hire more employees and improve job growth.
Let's start with The Times hiring to achieve the, say, 2008 level of reporters. Then the paper could replace the missing California section, the Monday Business section, add high school sports back to the Sports section and more. Tribune sales would increase and so would profits. A win-win for the L.A. economy.
Don't be so down on TAP
Re "Paperless, and clueless," Editorial, Aug. 27
The Times correctly notes that Metro has faced challenges in rolling out its new smart card fare media, or TAP, but all these hurdles can and will be cleared soon. We're dealing with them in a systematic way. And TAP is working — as evidenced by more than
15 million transactions monthly on buses and trains.
Moreover, most of our riders favor smart cards over paper tickets because it's already speeding up bus boarding, cards can be purchased online and their value replaced if lost or stolen.
TAP ridership data also are helping Metro better manage service to meet demand.
The Times focused on gating rail stations but neglected to point out that Metro received $16 million from the governor's Office of Homeland Security as part of Proposition 1B funding to offset the cost to make stations safer.
And even though the gates are not yet locked, we have seen an uptick in ticket vending machine revenue as would-be fare evaders think twice.
Arthur T. Leahy
The writer is the Metro chief executive officer.
And now for a little satire
Re "An anti-Muslim backlash? Not in America," Opinion, Aug. 24
Jonah Goldberg continues to improve as a satirist. His latest piece, in which he uses exaggeration to lampoon the right-wing habit of deliberately misinterpreting facts to reach absurd conclusions, is absolutely hilarious.