It's so nice to have a civil discussion.
Philip J. Donohue
Don't lose sight
of the real problems
There are so many arguments about health-care reform that the opportunities are in danger of being lost. But our country has a great opportunity to fix at least two serious problems.
First, we need to make sure every woman can get maternity coverage. For example, if pregnancy is defined as preexisting, then a woman might not be able to afford needed maternity care. Second, we must ensure that children born with a birth defect or serious condition, including disabilities caused by being born preterm, can get quality, affordable, and comprehensive medical care.
As a March of Dimes volunteer, I am concerned about the health of women, newborns, and children. This is not about special interests; it's about our families.
The health-care system in America clearly needs a major overhaul, but an adjustment in political or economic policy will not do the trick. Quite simply, there is no "health" in our health-care system. Doctors and nurses are taught all about killing pain and illness, but almost nothing about health.
While Western medicine grows increasingly expensive, and increasingly ineffective in coping with the stressful imbalances of our modern world, we are seeing many forms of "alternative medicine" coming to life. Such hands-on practices as acupuncture, Reiki, and chiropractic and therapeutic massage all help to reawaken and balance the vital life-force, which eludes Western medicine entirely.
Meanwhile, Western medicine has become little more than an expensive chemistry laboratory, and the American public has little choice but to foot the bill for this profoundly misguided mess. All the while, hospitals, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry have no financial incentive to actually cure their patients, but need to keep them perpetually unhealthy, only tolerably so. The public is encouraged to continue their unhealthy lifestyles, with the false promise that there is a pill that can make their problems disappear.
The only real solution, both for personal health and for the troubled health-care economy, is for the American people to learn how take care of themselves.
Let's do things
the American way
Some politicians and their cohorts on TV and radio have equated anything related to socialism as bad and evil enough to be abhorred. This, they say, makes a rather limited, government-administered health-care plan abhorrent, and un-American. To be logically consistent they should be demanding that we get rid of our existing socialist programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, workmen's compensation, and unemployment insurance. I believe that the overwhelming majority of Americans regard these programs as desirable, although they may be unaware of their socialist origins or recognize that they are being administered by the government.
Socialist ideas are not like cancer and all bad. They are like fire and can do good, like heat our homes, generate electricity, propel our cars, and cook our food. Uncontrolled fire can destroy our homes and property and take lives.
Most things tend to be like fire. For example, our exposure to the sun is needed for the body to be able to synthesize vitamin D. However, overexposure increases the likelihood of skin cancer. Eating is necessary to avoid death by starvation, but overeating can produce serious illness.
Even capitalism is like fire. It has brought us innovation, industriousness, and wealth. However, a lack of rules and oversight can cause destructive results. The severity of the current financial crisis and recession is an example of something that could have been avoided with appropriate rules and oversight. Clearly, those who gave us the deregulation of financial markets based on the premise that our sophisticated financial entities were too smart to take overly risky actions were wrong.
I recognize that real thought based on understanding and compromise can be a difficult endeavor. In my view, our being successful as a democratic society in a complex and competitive world requires it. Political power plays and pandering to the ideologically pure are from the playbook of the Iranian ayatollahs. We need to instead be doing things in the American way.
Time to stop
Re: "Editorial: Safety First" (last Monday):
As a pediatrician in Philadelphia, I applaud your article on safety and support your position that the priority of city school Superintendent Arlene Ackerman must be stopping school violence.
Youth violence continues to be a serious threat to the health of children and adolescents in the United States. Homicide remains the second leading cause of death for all children ages 1 to 19, and it is the leading cause of death among African Americans 10 to 24 years old.
Furthermore, the long-term complications and behavioral consequences associated with early childhood exposure to violence in the home or school can be devastating.
It is crucial that pediatricians work with the schools to keep children safe by offering anticipatory guidance, screening, counseling and directing treatment during routine and sick visits. Violence often fuels more violence, and for the health of the children in Philadelphia, curbing school violence must remain the school's top administrative priority.
Why Joe Wilson
got the coverage
The remark by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) was clearly uncalled for. I know from my time in the service that you don't disrespect your commanding officer. However, it would appear there was nothing newsworthy in the president's speech, thus all the coverage went to Wilson.