January 10-16, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Waging a living

I read the profiles of your low-wage earners ("Bare Minimum," Jan. 3) with empathy and frustration. Not long ago, I held a job at Safeway, earning $8.75 an hour making sandwiches I couldn't afford to buy myself. The store manager hired many workers, all of us part-time so that they could deny us benefits. We were treated like pieces of meat, the managers not even looking at us in the eyes. Perhaps the Bohemian could provide a guide to shopping at businesses that pay their workers a decent wage and treat them with respect.

Isabella Woodley, Petaluma

Plea for common sense

OK, I am an educated Democrat with nothing against young people, immigrants or others. But in reading the interview profiles in your minimum wage article, I gotta say: Try working 40 hours, at least. Don't have kids before you can afford them. Don't commute to some menial job across two counties and then blame the lack of transit. Do realize how good we have it in America, where even the poorest minimum wage earner likely has a DVD player, microwave and cell phone. I am not discounting that big business rips off the small guy (the Wal-Mart "Big Brother" stuff is particularly hair-raising). The classic example of putting minor dictators (managers) from the working class in charge of suppressing even more helpless part-timers is an old trick used by all empires in history. But please, inject some common sense into this story.

The other half of the minimum-wage dilemma is that modern Americans need to decide what they want and what they need, and reconcile the two. Just surviving, and worse, raising families as a cog in the corporate matrix, leads to misery. Stand up for yourselves. Plan ahead. Take charge.

Scott Trocken, Sacramento

Changing politics as usual

Congress has increased their own salaries, but those who must try to live on the minimum wage must try to skimp by on what isn't even a living wage. It is way past time for Congress to pass a new minimum-wage law increasing the minimum wage to no less than $7.25, and President Bush should sign it.

Such action by Congress will begin to show that they are serious about changing politics as usual, and that we did not make a mistake by voting out the others.

Cassandra B. Lista, Santa Rosa

More trap than deterrent?

Today I was in historic Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa. I looked up at our visitor's center and saw a pigeon trapped in the netting. Not sure if it was dead or alive, I went inside to notify those working there. One phone call was made and I was told that they didn't know if someone would be out to check it that day or not. I told them that if the bird were still alive, it must be suffering terribly. The response was that pigeons are "like rats" and they (those who were notified) probably don't care. This of course begs the question: Is it OK to let rats suffer and die horrible deaths?

After I printed pictures and indicated that I was willing to recruit people to protest outside the tourist information center, a city employee was immediately dispatched. The city employee retrieved the dead bird and laughed when I asked, "I wonder how long he was caught up there before he died?" When I said, "Something needs to be done about this netting, it is obviously too large a mesh to keep the birds from getting caught and killed." He responded by telling me that it is "approved cruelty-free" netting installed by "approved contractors."

If it is there to prevent the birds from going to a spot that is desirable to them, shouldn't it then be a small enough mesh to prevent them from putting their heads through it? This sounds more like a trap than a deterrent. Smaller mesh would be a humane solution.

Cindy Jenkins, Santa Rosa

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