Wasteful spending in D.C. and San Francisco

Friday’s San Francisco Examiner editorial, “Chu Offers No Apology for Fleecing Taxpayers,” appropriately focused on the need for an official apology for the half-billion federal dollars wasted on Solyndra despite “multiple warnings beforehand.” Just an apology? How about some firings? Or doesn’t a half-billion dollars of Washington waste matter anymore?

And how about a $1.58 billion boondoggle? San Francisco and the federal government are threatening to waste that much on a short and virtually useless bit of subway, of value mainly to wealthy real estate speculators.

As with Solyndra, there have been multiple warnings of the Central Subway’s flaws, excessive cost, dire effect on Muni finances and minimal transportation benefits. Yet its political promoters push blindly on as if nothing were amiss.

Who will later stand up and take responsibility for the Central Subway debacle?

Gerald Cauthen, SaveMuni, Oakland

Our rights can’t be taxed

The conservative letter-writer got it mostly wrong about our constitutional rights Nov. 17. The correct part is that you can’t punch someone because it will make you happy. That bit of jurisprudence has been around for a long time. But it is incorrect that out rights are subject to taxation. That thinking went out with the poll tax.

Yes, Supreme Court Justice David Souter believed property rights can be contingent on a community’s need to raise revenue. Justice Anthony Kennedy thought that world opinion should inform constitutional law and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was fine with equal protection waiting 25 years.

Still, judicial ruling is not the source of our human rights. Unalienable rights are not granted by government, nor can government rightfully tax the exercise of such rights, “living Constitution” or no.

Paul Burton, San Francisco

Galileo band keeps beat

There may be no snappier, up-close, dedicated, showbiz-savvy kids on these cold autumn afternoons than those within the Galileo High School marching band as it practices on the football field. Their energy shakes the rafters in my nearby 18-story North Beach building.

San Francisco’s cum laude graduates of youthfulness make a joyful noise near Fisherman’s Wharf at sundown. Attention deserves to be paid to the rhythmic heart of North Beach.

Al Ujcic, San Francisco

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