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Government’s role in healthy living; politics and conspiracy theories; danger from toy guns

It’s not just tuition

Re “Tuition deal for immigrants upheld,” June 7

I certainly can empathize with someone who is brought here illegally as a child and who now wants to go to college. But it still doesn’t sit well with me because the state has less than zero extra cash and because we are also fine with charging legal residents from outside California many thousands of dollars more than an undocumented resident.

William G. Tierney, the director of USC’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, is quoted as saying, “It’s good economic policy for the state to have more educated workers.” On its face, how can one argue with that statement?

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But last time I checked, it is illegal to hire an illegal immigrant. So where are these highly educated, heavily subsidized illegal residents going to work when they finish college?

Masako Matsumoto

Playa del Rey

Health and the government

Re “Government, heal thyself,” Opinion, June 3

In their Op-Ed article criticizing the Obama administration for spending money on “ideology” rather than on effective healthful-living initiatives, Jeff Stier and Henry I. Miller squeeze in the phrase “social engineering” four times. The repetitive use of politically charged labels to whip up fear over some nebulous “liberal agenda” — that’s ideology.

Posting calorie counts on menus and funding farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods may not have yielded verifiable changes in our country’s health yet, but give these ideas a little time.

Statistically, their costs are miniscule, and collectively, they broaden our country’s education about the connection between nutrition and health, a trend that will result in eventual long-term healthcare savings.

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Carsten Dau

Glendora

Stier and Miller are wrong about Communities Putting Prevention to Work, or CPPW. Communities across the country are building health, saving money and saving lives using evidence-based strategies that are showing results.

If common sense isn’t enough to elucidate the connection between having sidewalks and being able to walk in your neighborhood, or having access to affordable fresh foods and being able to eat them, there is a wealth of research to back up these efforts.

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Each CPPW community is deciding for itself the strategies that work best for them, and they’re working with local organizations to make them happen. We’re proud to work alongside CPPW communities that are joining together to find solutions that work.

Larry Cohen

Oakland

The writer is executive director of the Prevention Institute.

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Stier’s and Miller’s arguments are not new. Most gains in health over the last century have been due to policy and environmental interventions, including sanitation, workplace safety measures and smoking restrictions. While evoking similar complaints of government intrusion, these actions contributed to an unprecedented 25-year increase in life expectancy and a markedly improved quality of life.

Continued smoking and the obesity epidemic threaten to reverse these gains and worsen runaway healthcare costs.

For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s CPPW and community transformation grant programs are vitally important investments. They are based on strong science and supported by more than 100 years of public health experience.

Paul Simon, MD

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Los Angeles

Jonathan Fielding, MD

Los Angeles

Simon is director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. Fielding is the public health department’s director.

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Conspiracy theory thinking

Re “A long tradition of suspicious minds,” June 5

The “birther” attacks on President Obama’s legitimacy are “much ado about nothing.” However, we would be fools to believe that all political decisions are made within the constraints of constitutional authority. Many are made behind closed doors to promote special interests, not the best interests of the nation as a whole.

The term “conspiracy theory” has been overused to create a form of psychological blackmail that encourages us to dismiss as paranoid ravings even the most legitimate investigations into abuses of political power.

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William Shakespeare, who understood human nature about as well as it could be understood, based his great tragedies on conspiratorial attempts to seize control of a nation’s government. His plays teach us that we must be vigilant regarding the extremes to which the unscrupulous will work to seize power.

Dennis M. Clausen

Escondido

The article distorts the truth by stating, “The founders were godly people.” Some of the Founding Fathers were “godly,” but many of them were not, among them Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

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To wit, how many

times is the word “god” in the Constitution? None. How many times is “god” in the Declaration of Independence? None. Reference is made only to nature’s God, indicating nature’s law, not superstitious beliefs.

The Founding Fathers were astute enough to know that people will not be denied their addictions, and the mother of all superstitious addictions is religion; therefore the best they could do was attempt to ignore religion.

Journalists would do well to stop perpetuating religious myths.

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John Schank

San Pablo, Calif.

Trouble with toy guns

Re “Rules on toy guns urged,” June 7

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Nonsense and illogical thinking continue to prevail over reason.

I do not ever want a law enforcement officer to face needless risk; all risk must be carried by the suspects who do not obey the officer’s commands to “drop the weapon.” The risk must always be with the person not obeying the law enforcement officer.

Consider that a criminal can simply paint his gun the color defined by the rule, which could fool an officer into thinking it is a fake weapon. Toy gun or not, if it is pointed at an officer, then that officer has every right to shoot first and to not be subjected to a penalty for doing so.

George W. Zeissner

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Fountain Valley

What’s next? A law requiring that all garden hose nozzles be painted a bright color so that Long Beach’s finest can differentiate them as well?

I have a better idea for Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck: How about disarming all of our police forces and re-equipping them with strictly non-lethal devices?

Now that the Supreme Court has given officers permission to come crashing through your front door on the flimsiest of pretexts, at least we’ll be somewhat reassured knowing that the weapons they’ll be pointing at us might not kill us.

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And as an added benefit, no more kids will be shot by hair-triggered police for playing cops-and-robbers in their frontyards.

Allen Boobar

San Pedro

In a pig’s eye

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Re “U.S. weighs all-out war on wild pigs,” June 6

It was with astonishment bordering on the laughable that I read People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals official Martin Mersereau’s defense of feral pigs. He maintains these disagreeable interlopers should be allowed to freely decimate native flora and fauna because “they’re just trying to feed their families.”

While cruel methods of eradication should not be condoned, his comment had the unfortunate effect of conjuring visions of poor Mr. Boar out there desperately trying to bring home the bacon.

Karen Wullich

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La Jolla


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