Biden economics and buying power

Good news: the current administration in Washington is going to help seniors who rely on Social Security benefits with a historic 5.9 percent raise. Most, including the nation's press, consider this a good deal. CNN and others were saying “That would be the biggest increase since 1983,” which is true until you peal back the layers of the Biden economy and see if this raise will help.

First let’s look at inflation; that’s a key figure to understand what your purchasing power is.

The annual inflation rate for the 12 months ending in September of this year was 5.4 percent; so, if you are getting a 5.9 percent increase you must first subtract the inflation rate to see how much purchasing power you gained. Based on the increase applied for each $100 of your monthly Social Security benefits, you gain $5.90, but you’ll only be getting a net increase of $0.50 cents in purchasing power because everything you buy is costing more.

Next, Medicare part A and B premiums are going up. According to organizations familiar with the upcoming 2022 rates the deductibles, copays and other costs will increase. For example, for Part B your cost for outpatient care will increase by $5 and the deductible will increase by $14.

Then there are the state and local sales taxes; if what you buy costs $1 more, then you pay an added eight-and-a-half cents per item.

So, it looks like this “increase” turns out to be a net loss in buying power; welcome to Bidenomics.

Ron Fink

Lompoc

Let the trucks roll

The County of Santa Barbara has forced ExxonMobil to propose trucking their oil until they are permitted to reopen their pipeline. The pipeline is the least expensive and safest means of transportation for the oil from Los Flores refinery.

We urge the County to grant their permission for ExxonMobil to proceed for these reasons. They are shipping US oil so we do not have to be dependent on foreign oil importations. Gasoline trucks, oil trucks and hydrogen trucks use Highway 101 every day in numerous transportations without problems. The proposed trucks are safe and temporary. So we urge the County to approve this means of transportation. Help us to buy American and reopen the pipeline.

Justin M. Ruhge

Lompoc

Planning staff should protect the public

County planning and development staff reports supported the drilling of over 750 new oil wells in Cat Canyon. They proved to be poorly drafted and replete with error. The proposed projects threatened the quality of our drinking water and the water used by growers.

The recent Huntington Beach oil pipeline accident has underscored the questionable judgment expressed by P&D recently at a Planning Commission hearing. There, staff supported the massive trucking of oil on our roads.

The Huntington Beach disaster is larger than the 2015 Refugio State Beach incident that continues to impact us. Yet the County transportation planner defends a scheme that would permit, for up to seven years, 70 oil trucks per day on our roads, each loaded with 450,000 gallons of combustible oil … this, while knowing that moving oil by truck is even riskier than via pipeline. Thanks to the wisdom of planning commissioners, the truck plan was denied approval.

And now the planner lends critical support to a lot-split in Los Alamos that would result in a housing development endangering townsfolk. It would lead to too much additional traffic on a small neighborhood road, and, with only half of the new homes having a garage, reduced access by emergency vehicles due to illegal parking on the fire lane.

The County planner has put forward traffic estimates based on formulas in an engineering manual rather than doing an actual traffic study. And he has ignored, and then minimized, the impact of a one-lane bottleneck on the safety of pedestrians, vehicles and drivers.

P&D staff reports are supposed to be written with an eye to protect public health and safety and not to maximize the profits of land developers and private companies. We should not have to depend on the sagacity of the Planning Commission to set things right.

Seth Steiner

Los Alamos

Plants to stop sand a good idea

Remember the sand being blown by the wind recently - about 60 years ago, at the request of the County of Santa Barbara and the City of Guadalupe and the City of Santa Maria, I seeded plants on the dunes on the west end of Santa Maria Valley. The purpose was better health by stopping the wind blowing sand into the Valley. Then, years later, a self-called nature group pulled out the plants, saying the plants were not native there - now many people are having breathing problems because of sand being blown into their lungs.

Houses are not native here but I bet those nature people are not living out of doors - selfish nature people.

Bobby Dias

Santa Maria

Cyclists most always riding defensively

In his recent guest commentary, Aaron Solomon describes an encounter with a bicyclist in which he portrays himself as a victim and suggests that the police officer on the scene unfairly ticketed him rather than the inattentive cyclist. 

As a veteran cyclist who logs about 100 miles weekly on local roads and streets, the scenario described - a motorist making a right turn after stopping at a traffic signal - constitutes a hazard cyclists deal with on an almost daily basis and wisely wait before proceeding until they are certain the motorist is aware of their presence. Most motorists making a right turn look left for oncoming traffic and are oblivious to cyclists or pedestrians on their right who are crossing the street they are turning onto.  

Cyclists are well aware of the disparity in weight and speed of cars and trucks with the bicycles they are riding and that collisions invariably result in injury or worse. That is not to say that all cyclists are experienced and law abiding and incapable of making mistakes, only that most recognize the risk involved in choosing cycling as a primary means of transportation or as a recreational or fitness activity, and cycle as though their lives depend on it.  

Robert Hoffman

Santa Maria 

Elon Musk leaving ... vaya con dios

It seems everybody has something bad to say about California, and now it's Elon Musk. He going to move his family and his Tesla factory to Texas. Apparently, Oracle and HP are following him. They say California has too much regulation and is too expensive. Never mind, they all made huge fortunes in California.

So what's the problem? Musk said he's leaving because of the high taxes in California. According to the "The Hill" newspaper, very wealthy people don't pay much in taxes because they borrow their income against stocks and other assets they own. It sounds like a reverse mortgage for rich people, however it doesn't work for people without millions in assets.

Critics say housing is too expensive in California with too much tax and regulation. Did you know the property taxes for a $400,000 house in Texas are 50% more than California? We have some of the lowest insurance rates of anywhere in the country.

We have problems, but everywhere has problems. So how much better do we have it? Let's start with our wonderful weather, sunshine with 70s most of the year. Every day we are blessed, we are a half-hour drive to some of the most beautiful beach cities, from Santa Barbara to Morro Bay. Driving is a breeze, with good roads and streets, light traffic, and a very caring police force. Beautiful and safe neighborhoods, great schools and universities, all close by. We have plenty of wonderful shopping and services to satisfy any shopaholic.

I hate to sound like the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce, but I love living here. I think Santa Maria and the Central Coast is the sweet spot of America. We live in a "Five Star State" and just like five star restaurants and hotels, you pay more to get the best.

All I can say to Elon Musk and the other California haters, remember what the writer Kurt Vonnegut once said, “In this world, you get what you pay for.”

Cary De Grosa

Orcutt

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