The lessons of MyanmarRe "As many as 200 Myanmar monks arrested in raids," Sept. 27
I feel there is a lesson for all Americans to be learned by what is happening in Myanmar. That country was stolen from the people by the army. America is also being stolen from the people, but by a dishonest government and big business. If we don't stand up now, we may find ourselves in the same hopeless state.
Nations across the globe are waiting for influential China to make the first move. Why do we wait for trade-interested bureaucrats to take an ethical position when it is grass-roots action that always sets a political agenda and spurs media momentum? How would an Olympic Games boycott sit with China?
Corporate greed and labor abuseRe "A China ban isn't child's play," Opinion, Sept. 25
It's a cop-out to suggest that the problem with products made in China is the fault of a repressive government (China's) or not enough regulation by government (ours), and not even mention that the real problem lies with U.S. corporations that are so focused on profit they've pushed manufacturing prices down enough that even Chinese manufacturers are outsourcing to cheaper factories. I also find it at best naive or at worst disingenuous that the writer spent a year not purchasing anything made in China and yet never gave a thought to the horrific conditions of laborers in China who make many of these products for U.S. corporations. We do our best not to buy products made in China specifically to make a political statement because we don't want to support this type of unfair trade.
Maybe Sara Bongiorni should go to the church of her choice next Christmas and celebrate the true meaning of the holiday?
Changing Republican mindsRe "Stick to your guns, Rudy," Opinion, Sept. 25
Rudy Giuliani changes his political position on so many issues, I'm wondering where the Republican flip-flopping attack team is in the Republican primary. From guns to abortion to immigration, it appears that Giuliani has changed his mind on virtually every issue in his quest to be the Republican nominee for president. Republicans should hammer him for being a flip-flopper to kill his chances as they did with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the last presidential election. That they don't go after one of their own shows that it's OK for a Republican to change his mind but not a Democrat.
Every day, another Republican presidential candidate panders to the right by changing a prior fundamental position while claiming that he's been consistent all along. Giuliani does a 180 on gun control and immigration. Mitt Romney attacks the almost identical healthcare plan that he boasted about as governor of Massachusetts. They all pick up the tax-cut mantra while supporting the largest deficit in our country's history. And they all preach the doctrine of individual rights and smaller government while advocating nonstop government intrusion into our tapped phones, same-sex bedrooms and an individual's ability to decide his own death with dignity. At least Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is consistent; we know that he stands for prayer in school, denial of evolution, eliminating women's choice on reproductive rights and war.
How to fix healthcareRe "Mandatory health insurance? No sale," Opinion, Sept. 25
Jamie Court made perfect sense. How is forcing people to have health insurance an improvement over the mess we're in? Any solution that continues to pump money into giant insurance companies is no solution at all. How does a tax break on mediocre health insurance help a poor person who may pay little or no taxes because his earnings are so low already? We need national healthcare such as that in European countries. Instead, the fat cats try to scare average Americans with the distorted use of words like "socialism."
Finally, someone has identified mandatory and universal health insurance proposals for what they really are: big pork for the insurance companies. I say gut the current insurance scheme and move back toward a fee-for-service system in which, as with automotive insurance, people contract with insurers more or less for catastrophic coverage. Can you imagine auto insurance with a co-pay for every oil change and tire rotation? And at the same time, individuals need to realize and accept that the availability of healthcare isn't a guaranteed right, nor has it ever been free.
Ann K. Bowman
Court rightly criticizes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for seeking to deliver every Californian not dependent on Medicaid or Medicare to a health-insurance industry that many of us find increasingly unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, he identifies the wrong cause of increasing costs.
The idea that health insurers are unregulated because the state does not directly fix prices is absurd. Current over-regulation of health insurance in California drives premiums up by as much as 30%.
Court claims that "healthcare is so expensive today because no one is watching costs," and he's right. But his solution is for the state to watch the costs instead of empowering individuals to do so. We need the state to get our healthcare dollars out of the hands of the public- and private-sector bureaucrats and into the hands of patients.
John R. Graham
Health Care Studies
Pacific Research Institute
Traffic and educationRe "Schools still rise close to freeways," Sept. 24
Traffic on freeways generates pollution that increases various health risks. But pollution also arises from traffic on surface streets. I've substituted at several schools. Not only are pollution and traffic frequently bad around schools, so too is traffic noise. Lucky are the students who have a campus away from heavily traveled roads, with trees and with birds that sing.
As the world transitions to sustainable energy usage, Helen Bernstein High School will be a school where people will depend on filtered air. The filters won't get all the particles, and gases like carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen will go through. Forget about being able to open a window for light and air and maybe to hear a bird sing. Thank goodness they didn't name it after Rachel Carson.
Stephen V. Hymowitz
It seems that the Los Angeles Unified School District is just trying to put these schools up because voters have been demanding that more schools be built in urban areas.
Despite the law that schools shouldn't be by freeways, the district continues to build so that it can tell voters something is being done. What the district is really doing is building schools to educate children but also harming future generations.
All the justice money can buyRe "Money helped Spector more than celebrity," Sept. 27
I can't help believing that jurors wouldn't hesitate to convict an average slob. Success is rarely measured by a moral accomplishment not ringed with gold. Our world is saturated with such prejudices, and many jurors are hostages to them.
Those who think Phil Spector escaped conviction because of his celebrity are missing the point. It's the money, stupid. You too might kill someone and get away with it. All you need is a million bucks or so to hire a gaggle of top-flight lawyers, jury consultants and forensic experts who are only too happy to come up with exculpatory evidence. Justice is for sale in America, and Spector got exactly what he paid for.
Show yourselfRe "Supreme Court to hear challenge to voter ID law," Sept. 26
I show a photo ID to get on a plane and frequently when I use a credit card. Is voting of lesser importance? If somebody studies the issues and candidates to make an informed vote, age and financial assets need not be a barrier to a photo ID. However, if someone only votes the way some organization tells him because he is too lazy or ignorant, then the country is better off if that person didn't vote.
Rancho Palos Verdes