Opinion

The plight of the insured

Congress and the Obama administration remain too timid to propose the most comprehensive reform — single payer
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OPINION How many horror stories will it take before Congress decides to act on the most ignored problem in the present healthcare debate, denials for people with insurance?

In September, San Francisco's KPIX-TV reported the story of Rosalinda Miran-Ramirez of Daly City, who woke up one April morning with her left breast bleeding and her shirt soaked in blood.

She was rushed by her husband to the emergency room at nearby Seton Medical Center, where doctors found a tumor. Fortunately the biopsy was benign. Read more »

A new California tax revolt

The state and global financial crises have pushed the UC system into intense contraction, compounding years of rising student costs
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OPINION Don't miss the struggle underway over the future of the University of California.

Some see it as just another chapter in the unfolding story of the state's economic decline. That's partly true. But what's really interesting is what it could become.

If it's played right, the showdown over university fees and salaries could inspire a revival of sorts of the California tax revolt. Except this time, the rebels wouldn't be tax-haters, like we saw in 1978 with Prop. 13. Read more »

Where would we be without rent control?

The 30th anniversary of rent control in San Francisco
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news@sfbg.com

OPINION This year marks the 30th anniversary of rent control in San Francisco. On June 13, 1979, the Board of Supervisors passed a law that was seen by tenant activists as a fairly weak version of rent control. The supervisors were acting under pressure from landlords, who were lobbying them to hurry up and pass a law before the November election, when landlords feared San Francisco voters would enact a stricter version.

So the supervisors went with a middle-of-the-road measure, but its passage was still a milestone. Read more »

Too vital to fail

Bailouts are for businesses -- but what about essential services?
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OPINION The "too big to fail" rationale is a mystery to citizens forced to fund these billion-dollar ventures.

Suppose an entity is not too big but "too vital to fail"? Which power broker bestows standing to even ask for a bailout? I started thinking about "too vital to fail" when two seemingly unrelated incidents intersected in my consciousness, one a tragedy, the other simply heart-breaking.

The first incident happened in Oakland, eight blocks from where I teach journalism. A local editor was gunned down in a brazen daytime assassination. Read more »

LSD as gateway drug

When I told my mother about taking LSD, she was quite concerned
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OPINION I took my first acid trip in 1965 at Tim Leary's LSD research center in Millbrook, N.Y. He was supposed to be my guide, but he had gone off to India. Ram Dass (then Richard Alpert) was supposed to take his place, but he was involved in preparing to open at the Village Vanguard as a psychedelic comedian-philosopher. Read more »

Let's close the Prop. 13 loophole

Between 1975 and today, commercial property contributions to the tax roll have decreased from 47 percent to 30 percent
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OPINION When it passed in 1978, Proposition 13 was advertised as a law to protect fixed-income seniors from losing their homes. In reality, Prop. 13 was a guise to shrink the size of government and cut vital public services like education, health care, transportation, public safety, and recreation. Now, 30 years later, it is one of the principle reasons so many seniors, children, homeless, and other vulnerable California residents are losing their vital safety net.

Using scare tactics showing seniors on the street, supporters of Prop. Read more »

How to help Iran without meddling

The U.S. government has no moral or political authority to tell Iranians what they should do. Iranians are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves
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OPINION Two of us, Penn and Erlich, traveled to Iran in 2005 and interviewed numerous ordinary Iranians. People were very friendly toward us as Americans but very hostile to U.S. policy against their country. We visited Friday prayers where 10,000 people chanted, "Death to America." Afterward those same people invited us home for lunch.

That contradiction continues today as Iran goes through its most significant upheaval since the 1979 revolution. Iranians are rising up against an authoritarian system, but they don't want U.S. Read more »

The massage parlor mistake

Fearing arrest and/or deportation will mean fewer women will report rape or other violence and exploitation when they occur
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OPINION Taking advantage of the recent turmoil over the huge city budget cuts, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Sup. Carmen Chu, have pushed though malicious legislation imposing criminal charges and restrictions on massage parlors. Many are outraged that this costly legislation was prioritized — we want to know why it was, and how much it will cost to implement. Lawyers are questioning its legality.

Under the guise of concern for women's safety, Chu and Newsom falsely claimed that the law would stop sex trafficking. We've heard these lies before. Read more »

Lennar's shipyard: more toxic than you think

The plan for development of the shipyard is getting even more toxic than you think, and its dangers threaten everyone in San Francisco
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news@sfbg.com

OPINION "So, what do you want us to do?"

That was the question from a staff member at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) after he passed along reports of Lennar Corp.'s latest repeated releases of toxic dust containing asbestos, arsenic, lead, and other metals into the air in Bayview-Hunters Point, one of the last remaining African American communities left in San Francisco.

After grudgingly levying more than $500,000 in fines against Lennar in 2008 for earlier brazen violations (after fierce community pressure), why is BAAQMD's enf Read more »

A bailout for the middle class

Unfortunately, the middle-class bailout is stuck in Congress.
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OPINION I don't need to remind you that our economy is in trouble. The current banking crisis has demonstrated to all of us just how fragile and susceptible to manipulation our current system is. President Obama has spent billions of dollars and untold hours trying to bail out our failing banks and financial institutions. Whatever your opinions about his efforts, I think we can all agree we should also be helping out American workers — the real engine of the economy. Read more »