Readers Respond

August 25, 2009

Nothing to fear in health care reform

Health care reform has generated a tremendous amount of controversy and, as a result, a great deal of misinformation.

Recent letters and viewpoints advocating civility and communication are welcome in the present atmosphere of bitterness and hostility. Fifty million people in the United States have no health insurance, and many are turned away due to pre-existing conditions. Those that are fortunate enough to have insurance run the risk of losing coverage if they change jobs. Health care reform would correct these inequities.

The health care bill neither states nor implies anything about euthanasia, "mercy killing," or "death panels."

What it does do is provide seniors and other concerned citizens with counseling and information with regard to end-of-life issues such as preparing a living will. This is optional, and consumers can choose it or not.

With health care reform there will be more choices, not fewer.

Private-sector health insurance companies will operate alongside a nationwide network of public health insurance providers, creating competition that will lower premiums that up until now have been rapidly increasing and preventing many individuals, families and small businesses from purchasing health insurance. The proposed health care bill will increase options for consumers, including keeping their present doctor and health care provider if they so choose.

The issue of cost is a major concern. High-quality, affordable health care will pay for itself over time.

In addition, trillions could be shifted to health care from the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The counterproductive, draconian war on drugs could likewise be phased out of existence, substituting rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders, saving billions of tax dollars.

Lee Lears, Annapolis

Protesters target out-of-touch lawmakers

The hysteria regarding citizen protests is becoming a tired old refrain.

The protests are not about taxes, they are about the disconnect between the citizens and their legislators. Many of us are tired of not being listened to by our elected representatives, whose attention is taken up by the lobbies and interest groups who support the legislators' re-election finances.

Until the system of elections in our country changes to limit the cost and length of the re-election campaigns, the citizens will be the victims of the campaign finance situation. If the legislators have to respond with a "quid pro quo" for campaign contributions, the citizens' interests will suffer.

So stop painting all the protesters with a "selfish, greedy" brush, please!

Sam Davis, Towson

Clunker program is good for the environment

You stated that the effect of the cash for clunkers program would be negligible on gas consumption and the environment because of the low mileage standards ("Farewell to clunkers," Aug. 24). But the figures on the most popular replacements tells a different story.

Let's assume that the average clunker gets 15 miles per gallon (a generous figure?) and the replacement averages 25 miles per gallon. Let's also assume that the average clunker driver puts 12,000 miles per year on the car. That's 6 billion miles per year driven by the 500,000 clunkers turned in to dealers.

At 15 miles per gallon, the clunker drivers use 400 million gallons of gas per year, while in their replacements, they will burn only 240 million gallons per year. That's 160 million gallons of gas that we don't have to import, burn and pollute the environment.

Not to mention that the replacement cars have 2009-level emission controls, while the clunkers' controls are at a much more polluting level (if they have working controls at all).

I would surmise that the clunker program has a significant impact on gas usage and the environment.

John Wagener, Pikesville

Alonso deserves his bonus

As soon as I read about the bonus which schools CEO Andr?s A. Alonso earned, I knew that The Baltimore Sun would seek to deny it to him for whatever reasons could be conjured ("Mr. Alonso's reward," Aug. 24). It took you only a few days. But you missed a point in that the "sacrificed" in our school system have always been the students, never the teachers and administrators.

He is doing what has needed to be done for years. Let him do his job. How about you putting out a newspaper with facts instead of opinions ad nauseam?

S. Wharton

Nazi comparisons shameful

Thank you, Mr. Pitts, for the respect you showed in your column to my family which suffered in Nazi camps from which two of my uncles failed to return ("Nazi comparisons in health debate cheapen the evil Nazis perpetrated," Aug. 24).

My daughter and I were in Home Depot Edgewood last night and a burly, bald white man came in wearing a T-shirt which read: "CAMP AUSCHWITZ, WORK WILL MAKE YOU FREE"; on the back was the word STAFF. I was at a loss to know what to do - so I did nothing.

What could I have said to him that he would understand? His ignorance and inhumanity are as blatant as his T-shirt.

Dee Sobelman, Joppa

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