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November 20-26, 2008 email@example.com
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We need better health care
(Re: “Tied with Thailand,” Perspectives, Nov. 13.) Thank you for your important column on how the U.S.A. has been losing ground in comparison to vital statistics in Thailand and other nations. I spent six years in Thailand and have made many trips there to study their health system. In earlier days, Thais died from diarrhea, complications of childbirth, gross malnutrition and many communicable diseases. In response, Thailand focused on increasing access to clean water, sanitary water-flush latrines, organizing community health committees and training hundreds of thousands of community volunteers to be first-line health workers. Now, basic health services are free to all Thais.
In short, Thailand had a high priority for protecting the health of its people efficiently and with strong emphasis on disease prevention and community support. In the U.S.A., efficiency and disease prevention seems less important than profit and elegant treatment of disease for those who can afford it. But we can no longer afford paying 25- to 30-percent overhead and bloated pharmaceutical costs. Americans and the majority of physicians who serve them have come to realize that a single-payer health system, with a priority on health promotion, will be required. Canadian, German, French and other health systems include private health insurance and private medicine but with government standards for costs and quality of care.
For details, look at: www.healthcareforallcolorado.org and www.uhcan.org.
A penchant for typos
(Re: “Follow the curve,” Arts & Culture, Nov. 13.) In your article on O’Riley this week, in the second column, you probably mean “penchant” not “pension for translating some of pop’s more prized possessions.”
Sabine Schaffner/via Internet
The world is watching
It’s been an interesting 40 years and if you’re old enough to remember, we can look back and say, “Is this a great country, or what?”
In 1968, at the height of the anti-war movement, after the tragic loss of RFK in Los Angeles and with Richard Nixon poised to take the presidency, Americans watched as Chicago’s Mayor Daly transformed his police department into a paramilitary force never before seen — at least in northern cities like Chicago and used against white Americans.
On the news programs we all relied upon for truth, and “no spin” journalism, we watched as armor-clad police beat, kick and round up mostly white, long-haired hippie types. Those “hippie types” were there for the Democratic National Convention to voice their opinions, speak out against what they thought to be an illegal war in Vietnam, and be a part of the political process and be represented peacefully by their fellow American spokespersons.
As we witnessed, the protest began peacefully enough, until the order was given to loose the dogs, gas the crowd and disperse the peaceful assembly (ironically as guaranteed by our Constitution). As we all now know, all hell broke loose, and with cameras rolling and live microphones recording the action, the crowd began chanting, inaudibly at first — then a crescendo, the chant of “The whole world is watching.” And as we also know, they were.
The world watched as the image of the friendly cop on the beat disappeared and the image of Americans standing together to make the world a better place be instantly transformed into an “us against them” mentality.
That’s the way it’s been for the better part of 40 years, and we’ve just lived through perhaps the most hotly contested presidential contest in our 200-plus years of history. Well, now, that’s history, and we’ve all been witness again to events never before seen.
And this time, it was also in Chicago as our first African-American president and his family prepare to move into the White House. The location of both events: Grant Park. But this time Americans have something to celebrate. And the whole world is watching — again.
Pay the people
I read this week that some (many?) U.S. companies are having difficulty funding their legacy pensions. You know, those “defined-benefit” dinosaurs. Here’s a thought: grab 80 percent of the CEO’s compensation and pump that into the pension account. The fat cat would still be pulling down 18 to 20 times the wage level of the average company employee. Throw in the rest of “top” management, and you could arrest the shortfall in hundreds of pension accounts for people who have already bled for the firm. Maybe more corner suites might be converted to humanism à la (can you believe it?) Henry Ford, who decided to pay his workers enough to afford one of his products. This is quite different from the current model, which expects uninterrupted consumption without a living wage. That’s one sure way to get a financial crisis. If people were paid enough, they might even be able to make mortgage payments! Now, there’s a novel idea.
Iran is a threat
Israel might be the first target of the power-hungry Iran, but it won’t be the last. Iran will not stop conquering by the sword until all bow down in servitude of the so-called greatest religion, Islam. Iran has been quite frank about its intentions and goals and has 6,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Maybe they are exaggerating. Maybe they have only 3,000 centrifuges — but isn’t that enough?
When they share this knowledge with other nations who don’t particularly like the West, will we then act? Today they are only hurting Israelis — more than 8,000 rockets on Israeli civilians since 2005 by Hamas through Iranian funds. Luckily Israel gave back the Gaza Strip. Who knows how many more they would have fired?
And by all means, America, don’t trouble yourself about the beatings of women and homosexuals, which in the latter case always ends in hanging. Maybe that’s why Ahmadinejad doesn’t have any homosexuals in Iran. I wonder how much we are going to laugh when political correctness turns into Sharia Law. How will we laugh when one of their long-range missiles lands in one of our cities? Time is running out to a peaceful solution with Iran. If we don’t wake up, they will be picking up our pieces.
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