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Letters for the Week of April 28, 2015

Readers sound off on water conservation, unsafe housing in Oakland, and Roundup.


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These females should be given the same attention. They are cutting-edge wonderful and deserve to be on larger stages (dare I say a regular spot on Comedy Central?)

But comedy clubs won't book more than one female comic on the same bill or allow them to be hired more than one time a month — or year. The club owners claim that they won't fill the seats like male comics do. It's the same old-boy's mentality that keeps the culture as small-minded.

The culture-at-large will not heal without allowing brave material to shake things up. It's kinda that simple.

Thank you for writing this piece, Sam Levin! Good on you for taking notice as well as getting it.

Joey Brite, Oakland

"Robert Gammon Responds," Letters, 4/1

Gammon Didn't Go Far Enough

While it was good that Robert Gammon responded in the April 1 letters to the editor section to Almond Board of California CEO Richard Waycott's baloney, his response did not go far enough, and he did not respond at all to the ridiculous comments of letter writers Ed Gerber and Dan Errotabere, who cry crocodile tears for the poor farmers without giving any consideration to the ecosystems and species that farmers are harming with their expropriation of water from other watersheds and ecosystems. Agribusiness — and even a lot of just plain agriculture — in  the San Joaquin Valley is extremely environmentally harmful, and sucking watersheds dry is only one of many problems that it causes. But this argument is about water, so I will confine my comments to that issue.

In order to understand a problem, one must get to the root of it.  In this case, the San Joaquin Valley was mainly a seasonal marshland with some desert, the latter mostly on the west side. Our society drained the marshes and expropriated water from other watersheds and ecosystems in order to grow crops. This expropriation of water is and was harmful per se, because it robs the species (including humans) in the habitats from which the water was taken. So in order to fully comprehend this issue, we must start with the knowledge that growing food in the San Joaquin Valley was harmful to begin with regarding water.

Today, unregulated farmers are allowed to grow water-intensive crops, such as almonds, in the western portion of the valley, which is a desert, and are allowed to export most of the food that they grow. All of this comes at great cost to the environment because the water used to grow these crops is water stolen from other watersheds that the people and other species living in those watersheds don't have. If California is to ever get serious about addressing its water issues, all three of these practices must be stopped.

After lying about the fact that agriculture uses 80 percent of the water in California, Mr. Waycott complains that farmers have had to sacrifice some water allotments. The problem with this complaint is that this is water that doesn't ecologically belong to the farmer in the first place, it belongs to the people and other species who live in the ecosystems and watersheds where the water exists. Then Mr. Waycott complains that farmers are losing money because of the cutbacks in water allocations to them. Not only are farmers not entitled to this water (at least morally and ethically), but if Mr. Waycott thinks that money is more important than water, I'd love to see him drink money.  All three letter writers complain that we are demonizing farmers. No, we are demonizing environmentally harmful practices, such as taking massive amounts of water out of certain watersheds in order to financially benefit farmers and water districts.

Mr. Gerber makes the false claim that we will all suffer if farm practices are properly regulated in order to greatly reduce the gluttonous overuse of water that farmers currently practice. This is simply not true, as most food grown in the San Joaquin Valley is exported. For example, most almonds are exported, and California grows about half of the food consumed in the United States. California's water and environment should not be sacrificed in order to export crops.

Finally, Mr. Errotabere complains that in our legitimate attacks on growing his water-intensive almonds, we don't know why farmers choose to grow certain crops.  He first says that he does not "just wake up one day and select the crop that is going to make me the most money." Then in direct contradiction to that statement, Mr. Errotabere states that the money he makes from his almonds provides jobs (a common employer code word for money) and that his almonds provide him with a good "financial return." Mr. Errotabere's statements show that this is all, or at least mostly, about money for farmers.

If you take something that you should not, such as water from other watersheds and ecosystems, it is not a legitimate complaint to say that you are sacrificing if you are forced to take less of it. The vast majority of us in California are guilty of stealing water, because gross overpopulation has created a situation where we cannot live on the ground or surface water in our own watersheds. But for San Joaquin Valley farmers, especially large farmers, it is really disgusting and totally illegitimate to complain about their water allocations being lowered. Farmers in California should be prohibited from growing water-intensive crops, from growing anything in the desert portion of the valley, and from selling crops outside of California (and maybe our bordering states). Once that prohibition is in place, farmers might have legitimate complaints about their water allocations, but even then only because we all need to eat.


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