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Letters to the editor – Jan. 22, 2016

Posted: January 22nd, 2016 | Featured, Letters to the editor | No Comments

Responses to ‘La Mesa fire captain bids adieu’
[Volume 5, Issue 12 or bit.ly/1Vorpah]

There is no doubt that firefighting can be dangerous work. And I think everyone appreciates what firefighters do. Do firefighters die every day? I don’t know for sure. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Fire Fighter Fact sheet for July 2013 states: ”Over the past four years, an average of 31 firefighters were killed on the job each year”; and, “The 2011 fatal injury rate for firefighters was 2.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, compared with 3.5 for all occupations.” To be fair, it is also true their injury rate is about four times the national average. But just maybe some perspective is helpful, too. Here are some other fatal injury rates for lesser known occupations from the same source.

[per 100,000 full-time workers]
Farming/Fishing/Forestry 25.3
Electrician (my occupation) 8.1
Utility-line electrician 19.5
Roofer 34.1
Police officer 18.3
First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers 3.1
Office and Clerical 0.6
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 24.5
Maintenance and repairs workers, general 15.8
I do truly appreciate firefighters, but I am also grateful for the many other, less-glamorous and non-public employee occupations, who are put at risk to help our lives be better.

––Scott H. Kidwell, via Facebook

The average California firefighter is paid 60 percent more than paid firefighters in other 49 states — and that’s not counting the 70-plus percent of America’s firefighters who are volunteers.

California cops are paid 56 percent more. Yet the state’s 2011 median household income (including government workers) is only 13.4 percent above the national average. Source: tinyurl.com/CA-ff-and-cop-pay.

It makes little sense for a firefighter to work past 30 years. Their pension usually maxes out at 90 percent of their highest pay after that time frame.

Indeed, a firefighter makes more after they retire than they received in their working salary paycheck. A person working has paycheck deductions. Notable are pension contributions (typically 9 percent of pay), union dues, plus a couple other odds and ends. Not to mention the commuting costs.

And let’s not forget that quite a number of retired public employees — especially police and firefighters — “go out” with a disability designation (usually for common middle age infirmities, usually sports injuries), which means that up to half their pension is free from federal and state income tax. Depending on circumstances, that exemption cuts one’s income tax bill by 60 percent or 80 percent. Sweet!

Yes, most career public safety workers in California are literally set for life — without putting a dime aside for retirement on their own.

––Richard Rider, via Facebook

Professional sports, raunchy Hollywood and crass politics

I wonder what kind of government structure the statesmen of Philadelphia would have envisioned with today’s distractions of professional sports (Charger debacle), raunchy Hollywood (Bruce Jenner thing) and crass, self-centered politics (filthy rich, blowhard, candidates)?

Instead of a resolute, interdependent, checks-and-balances, three-branch government we have a more intrusive, do-nothing administrative bureaucracy (San Carlos sinkholes).

Instead of a Bill of Rights protecting individual freedoms and strong state influence in non-national/international matters, we have a dumbing-down of individual freedoms and loss of individual significance.

Let’s not follow the empty road of the Roman Empire into extinction. Let’s take back the most amazing country ever! Keep informed, vote, contact your representatives, express your opinions and do not be hoodwinked by the “politically correct.”

––Carlos Miller, La Mesa

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