Intimidation by Phone and Mail
You wrote in your editorial (Dec. 14) concerning decreasing donations to charities in this country: "A bigger culprit we suspect is the sheer number of appeals that clutter the mail box and interrupt the dinner hour. Even a willing donor can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed."
What you failed to mention is that when someone feels generous and donates to a particular charity -- be it cancer, animals, the homeless, whatever -- they are stabbed in the back for their generosity. Their names and addresses are given -- I guess sold is the proper term -- to dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands of other such groups.
That's when the mail begins to proliferate and phone calls disturb the donor at the dinner hour, or even much later in the evening.
I found one such experience enlightening. My name was misspelled on the mailing list of one such group. Shortly after my donation the mail started pouring in.
It was only too obvious that after my gift the group had sold my misspelled name and my address to many other groups. Now I tell them whenever they call or write that I do not make gifts to groups that sell my name to other groups.
Even more disturbing is that if one gives a donation to a particular group one year but chooses not the next, you are still on their list ad infinitum.
I gave a gift to a particular group once in 1980, and I am still on their phone list and hear from them every two or three weeks even though I have repeatedly asked to have my name removed from their list.
Frighteningly, such intimidation is not limited to charities. Businesses are into the phone and mail solicitation also.
Credit card owners are bombarded with calls and mailings for special deals such as discount drugs, travel, furniture. They do generally stop the calls if requested to do so. Such arrangements, whereby if you do not cancel after three months, you are automatically a member for life should constitute fraud.
Then you are also taken in by your own local government. Police solicit, collect and deliver jams, jellies, barbecue sauces.
You think you are contributing to your local police department. As it turns out most of the money goes to the manufacturers of the food.
Melvin D. Reuber
Be a Cadaver
Laura Lippman had an article Jan. 18 about a homeless man who died and "unless money can be raised, Mr. Botick's [the homeless man] body will be used for medical research." The tone of the article was that becoming a cadaver is an unacceptable alternative.
Those of us who have made arrangements to donate our bodies to science see the issue differently.
A medical student needs real bodies to examine and dissect as part of learning to be a good physician -- studies of body parts, cells and tissues can lead to cures for cancer and other dreaded diseases.
Giving of one's self in this manner is a true gift to society and should be encouraged.
Elizabeth Bacon (letter, Jan. 14) presents an astonishing view of the history of the Ulster plantation.
She contends that the Scottish farmers were sent to farm the land and bring prosperity to a struggling and starving people.
Sent by whom? And Irish people struggling against whom? Hungry (not starving; that came later) for what reason? The English in all cases.
It was a classic English ploy of pitting one conquered people against another. Predictably the Irish reacted with fury against the Scottish interlopers, slaughtering them at every opportunity.
The English army came in to protect the Scots, now dependent on British protection. The situation continues to this day. Even the English cannot now undo the mess.
Solutions are difficult. Rewriting history does not help.
Agricultural efficiency was hardly the motivation for the Ulster plantation. Left alone, the Irish have always fed themselves. Starvation, like the Ulster plantation, was a strictly English import.
The incoming Scots were hardly benefactors and certainly not masters of their own fate. They were just another abused Celtic people, like the Cornish, the Welsh, the Irish and the Manx, who over the centuries one way or the other have been manipulated and ultimately done in by the bright boys from London.
It is the final indignity that they have been brain-washed into thinking that the whole thing was done for the benefit of the native Irish.
Many Americans have roots in Ireland, either native Irish or Scots-Irish. We have a clear interest in seeing an equitable solution.
As Americans we have much to contribute. We solved the problem of sectarian strife a long time ago.
The American solution, embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, might well serve as a model for all parties concerned.
We must convince our cousins in the six counties still under British control to live with each other in peace without hatred and discrimination.