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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 21

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Dreaming of a Green Christmas

EDITOR: Of all the symbols our culture has chosen to attach to our national day of consumption – Christmas – none is more inappropriate than the habit of killing a tree for Jesus. Our yearly orgy of slaughtering millions of pine and blue spruce yearlings to decorate our houses and public spaces, only to be discarded on barren street corners within a week or so, is a case of misplaced use of a national resource. How much, for instance, of our carbon debt might be eliminated by planting rather than cutting the estimated 25 million evergreens that are harvested each year?

Time to change our bad habits and help Mother Nature create a Green Christmas. I suggest that we buy and plant our trees.

For my part I will plant any healthy, potted evergreen on the lower 40 acres of my farm – at no cost.

For your part, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did a bit to reduce your personal carbon debt. And, you are welcome to come and visit your tree next Christmas season and see how it is getting along.

Sam Keen

Sonoma

Frozen assets

EDITOR: Are you kidding?

PG&E wants to turn off our power for one to two weeks with fire threats ongoing?

I understand the concern and the need for solutions, but to freeze us to death is another liability!

Is this protection? Are they covering their you know whats - while we freeze ours?

Katy Byrne

Sonoma

Words to live by

EDITOR: Many years ago, I purchased “The Art of Worldly Wisdom,” a small book on philosophy written by Baltasar Gracian, a worldly Jesuit scholar who lived in Spain some 300 years ago and was keen observer of many in positions of power.

I have, ever sense, found the book to be a good read and one that pays dividends to the reader each time he or she picks it up to reread. And so it was now, after listening to the latest mini White House press conference and found that I needed a Baltasar fix and give you the following:

“Weigh matters carefully, and think hardest about those that matter most. Fools are lost by not thinking. They never conceive even the half of things, and because they do not perceive either their advantages or their harm they do not apply any diligence. Some ponder things backward, paying much attention to what matters little, and little to what matters much. Many people never lose their heads because they have none to lose. There are things we should consider very carefully and keep well rooted in our minds. The wise weigh everything: they delve into things that are especially deep or doubtful, and sometimes reflect that there is more than what occurs to them. They make reflection reach further than apprehension.”

I have to think he knew Trump would appear some day.

Stephen Kyle

Sonoma

General Plan mandates minimum wage increase

EDITOR: The minimum wage issue has long been with us and it is inextricably tied to the pressing issues of affordable housing and affordable healthcare. Wages earned locally are for the most part money spent locally in businesses and services. It’s basically the way an economy works and stays sustainable.

It’s long past time the City of Sonoma institutes a livable minimum wage for the workforce that keeps it viable and thriving. It’s sound economics and it’s inarguably the right thing to do. All people should be paid an honest and realistic wage for the work they do, and receive (as in the sentiments of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)… just and favorable remuneration ensuring for him/herself and her/his family an existence worthy of human dignity. Furthermore, as stated in Article 25 of this extraordinary document: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services….”

A few sobering numbers: One in 8 Sonoma County residents lives below the federal poverty threshold (U.S. Census Bureau). That’s 12.3 percent of county residents. The federal poverty level by number in households ranging from 1 to 4 is $12,140 to $25,100. Think you or your family could live on that?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, costs for a family of two in Sonoma County total $66,734. That’s housing, food, transportation, health care, taxes and other. This amounts to $5,562 per month. For a single owner that is $35 an hour and $17.50 an hour for two.

The Sonoma General Plan states that people who work here should be able to live and shop here. Considering the low wages paid in the hospitality, wine, restaurant and retail businesses it puts the lie to local government’s claims. In fact the City Council has studiously avoided addressing the minimum wage issue since it agreed by vote to study it in 2014.

Interestingly, the soon-to-be new governor, Gavin Newsom, is quoted in the Index-Tribune as saying that California’s biggest problem is “income inequality,” and then subsequently stated, “You can’t live a good life in an unjust society.”

I’ll conclude with another quote from a politician you might remember, Abraham Lincoln: “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not existed first. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

I can’t imagine it being any clearer than that. This letter advocates a minimum wage in Sonoma of $17.50 per hour and urges the new city council to begin addressing this critical and overriding issue in January of 2019.

Will Shonbrun

Boyes Springs