Put education first
It was disheartening to read about the bureaucratic machinations surrounding the failed effort to remove Los Angeles Unified Supt. David L. Brewer.
My disappointment was threefold: First, one bureaucrat, motivated it seems by racial considerations, refused to leave a conference to cast her vote; second, as further evidence of the balkanization and racialization of Los Angeles, the board appears to be paralyzed by the fact that Brewer is black; and third, your article made little reference to students, whose education apparently is less significant than politically correct racial politics.
When my children attended LAUSD schools in the mid-1990s, I witnessed the loss of education as a priority in the system. The education bureaucracy should get back into the education business. Failure to do so will consign students to academic failure and the system to further deterioration.
The Times' front page article describes a consensus forming in favor of a universal healthcare system dominated by the private health insurance industry. Yet the article clearly indicates why a government-operated, single-payer, universal healthcare program is the better way to go.
The story notes that "the government will control costs and set standards of care, proposals that raise the unpopular prospect of federal regulators dictating which doctors Americans can see and what drugs they can take."
The private, for-profit healthcare insurance industry is doing that to us now. As a private family-practice physician, I have found that Medicare is often kinder to the patient than private healthcare insurers are. There is one set of rules, the same for everybody, and nobody is rejected.
Your article states that "leading groups of businesses, hospitals, doctors, labor unions and insurance companies" are calling on the government to create a universal healthcare system. Who on that list speaks for me and the millions in this country who desperately need guaranteed healthcare?
Does anyone think that insurance companies are interested in anything except their profit margins?
The only sane answer to our problem is a single-payer system. But, no, your article states, the single-payer system is "off the table." Who decided that? Why do the insurance companies deserve a place at the table while the rest of us scrounge around on the floor hoping that a few scraps fall for us?
The government should not be guaranteeing "universal healthcare." Healthcare is a need, not a right. Rights are freedoms of action, not automatic claims on goods and services that must be produced by another. There's no such thing as a "right" to a car or an appendectomy. Whenever the government attempts to guarantee a service such as healthcare, it must control it, leading to Canadian-style rationing and waiting lists.
Instead of universal healthcare, we need free-market reforms, such as allowing patients to purchase insurance across state lines and use health savings accounts for routine expenses, and allowing insurers to sell inexpensive, catastrophic-only policies to cover rare but expensive events. Such reforms could reduce costs and make insurance available to millions who cannot currently afford it.
Paul Hsieh, MD
Not a race to the bottom
I can hardly believe these workers in West Point, Ga. Their local politicians sold them out and turned them into a cheap labor market for foreign countries, and they think it's great.
Southern states subsidize foreign car companies by giving them tax breaks and other incentives. Their politicians see nothing wrong with that -- but heaven forbid the government should loan any money to GM.
Critics try to convince everyone the reason U.S. auto companies can't compete is because our unions require wages of $70 an hour. That's nonsense. I have known many people who worked for the automobile industry. Not one of them made $140,000 a year. It would be great if they did.
Our goal should be to raise the standard of living for all Americans, and for the workers of other countries as well. This should not be a race to the bottom.
It dismayed me to read that some people in economically hard-hit Southern towns blame Detroit for making large, fuel-guzzling vehicles, yet they chose to buy them. Why blame the companies for making the products they themselves wanted?
I was also upset by the resentment expressed toward union workers and labor contracts at the Big Three. The workers interviewed are angry that union members get higher pay than they do. Their reaction is not to look for ways to increase their own pay or benefits but rather to take glee in the economic plight of the unionized companies. This approach leads to lower pay and benefits for everyone. Shouldn't we look for ways for people to get a better deal, not a worse one?
Gun rights with attitude
The lower the intelligence level, I've discovered as a professor of English, the more bluster and threat are used to defend the irrational. Concealed weapons on campus? Must one carry an explosive device in a backpack to make oneself understood in the halls of academia? Anyone who thinks so should leave the university and go duck hunting. These folks are giving evolution a bad name.
Onward and upward, Danielle Ramirez. You've got my support.
San Juan Capistrano
I read with interest Martinez's account of Ramirez's writings about concealed weapons on campus. She makes many good points. Her satirical style allows her to attack positions she opposes without attacking those who have a different point of view.
Martinez, on the other hand, insults those who do not agree with him. I found his words, "Rabid gun owners, being people of limited perception, would no doubt nod and agree ..." particularly offensive -- even though I have never owned a gun.
It's one thing for you to suggest that U.N. Ambassador-designee Susan Rice is the polar opposite of John R Bolton as they meet in "Bizarro World," but it's hard to believe that you called the U.N. "the world's only meaningful bulwark against nuclear proliferation, human rights violations, genocide and wars of conquest."
What did the United Nations do to save people during the genocide in Rwanda? What has the U.N. been doing to save the people of Darfur? How is the U.N. stopping or even slowing down Iran's march toward nuclear weapons?
The U.N. talks and debates and passes resolutions while people suffer and die. This is why so many look at it with contempt.
Are you sure it isn't the writer of this editorial who lives in Bizarro World?