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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 10, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Health-care debate: Town-hall protests; Krugman and Krauthammer columns

Right-wing rabble-rousers

Editor, The Times:

The cacophonous canaille of moronic minions stirred up by screwball right-wing rabble rousers is pathetic [“Rowdy protests at health forums,” page one, Aug. 6]. One such fool actually excoriated a congressman with the asinine adjuration to keep “your government hands off my Medicare.”

This is a fair reading of the intellectual level of many of these faux “grass-roots” fanatics. Forces of progress must not be deterred. The public outpouring of rank imbecility reveals not only the extent to which many citizens are misinformed, it reveals the desperation of the rabulous right in the face of genuine and just health-care reform. We must keep moving forward.

— Joe Martin, Seattle

We need to speak up

It is interesting that our socialist-leaning administration is trying to portray the anger at the town-hall meetings as orchestrated by some unethical means. I am an American voting taxpayer and if I disagree with the direction our elected officials are taking our great nation, I have a right and responsibility to express my concerns as strongly as needed to be heard.

And I feel very strongly about the bailouts, health-care reform and government encroachment upon our free-enterprise system. We need to speak up and stop this train wreck.

— Larry Brickman, Bellevue

Current system unsustainable

I am 62 years old and we have been debating [health-care reform] since Harry Truman was president. It was called socialized medicine in those days and that’s what scared people then.

Today, the opponents of universal health care are still using that tired old label and still scaring some people.

We are one of the last modern societies in the world that treats health care as a privilege based on one’s ability to pay. The system we have is unsustainable both ethically and economically. Health-care costs must be contained and care must be universal. Anything less is irresponsible.

— Michael Nesse, Snohomish

Racism charge “deranged”

Columnist Paul Krugman is deranged [“Listen to what’s behind town-hall mobs’ rage,” Opinion, Aug. 8]. He asserts that opposition to the proposed government takeover of health care is based on racism — that Americans protesting initiatives or reforms supported by the president are opposing them because the president is black, not because he is wrong.

Well, if it is racist to oppose government-controlled medicine, so be it. If it is racist to think government ownership of GM distorts the market and rigs the odds in favor of its investment, I qualify. If it is racist to think that we have to pay our bills and trim our expenses while the government just prints more money, sign me up. And this is a guy who was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics?

We are indeed in the midst of a crisis. The pivotal question is this: Does government at all levels exist to serve us or do we exist to grow the government and its notions of what is good for us? That is what the uproar is all about. People protesting government takeover of all aspects of our lives aren’t racist. A growing movement of “Americans in their right minds” is a more apt description of what we are witnessing.

— Kathy Schwartz, Seattle

Real people with real concerns

The Democrats are attempting to paint the conservatives who are expressing their concerns with President Obama’s health-care plan as paid kooks disrupting meetings like hoodlums. They claim that these are all hired thugs, not real people with real concerns.

And they are wrong.

Columnist Paul Krugman cites a couple of “dangerous” organizations allegedly behind this plot, but offers no proof anything wrong was actually done by them. In any case, since when is it sinister to organize in support of your views? If it’s OK for moveon.org, can’t we conservatives do the same? When some Democrats were criticized for being against the Iraq war, they told us that dissent was the highest form of patriotism. I guess that only applies if you agree with them.

Krugman then attempts to discredit dissenters by stating that, while against national health care, they are on Medicare. I am one of those. While, from a selfish viewpoint, I am glad to have much of my medical care paid for, I look at the system paying for it and genuinely do not want all care handled this way.

In my hand is a report resulting from a recent medical event. The Doctor charged $172.00. Medicare allowed $95.13. They paid $76.10. Who decided this? Did the doctor overcharge because he knew they would slice his request? If not, won’t the doctor charge others more in order to stay in business? If we cut medical costs arbitrarily like this, won’t practicing doctors leave and young folks decide against becoming a doctor? If that happens, how can we offer unrationed quality care?

Rather than denying the truth that Americans do not want government-run health care and are saying so loud and clear, maybe the Democratic Congress should listen to the people.

— Henry R. Kroeger, Redmond

Opposition absurd

For those of us who have lived in countries with universal health care, the opposition to a public-option plan is absurd. I have occasionally heard people in those countries complain about services, but asked if they would change to a private or employer-linked system, the answer is a resounding no even from people who can afford and do opt to buy supplemental private insurance.

Contrary to the deceptive propaganda of the private health-care industry in this country, these people are generally satisfied with their public health care. Questioned about taxes, they value the peace of mind they get in return for their tax investments.

Gallup conducted a global survey some years ago asking people around the world if they considered themselves happy and content. The happiest people, the survey concluded, were in two Scandinavian countries and Costa Rica. Common denominators: universal health care, free public schools and free or very affordable higher-learning institutions.

Health and education, which are the very foundation of a progressive and prosperous society, cannot be left to the vagaries of the free-market profiteers.

— Ruth Kildall, Seattle

Health assurance for all

We do not need health insurance, we need health assurance!

Charles Krauthammer says health care needs radical reform; only two things are necessary: tort reform and severing the link between health insurance and employment [“Health care needs radical reform,” Opinion, Aug. 7].

I find myself agreeing with Krauthammer. These two things could very well be part of the solution, but they do not go far enough. My questions to Krauthammer are:

— Why did Republicans not do these things while they were in the majority, if they are so simple and easy, and would solve this 30-year-old problem?

— How do we provide health care for 45 million who are not covered because they or their employer cannot afford the premiums?

— How do we bring affordable premiums to everyone, including those already insured?

— How do we bring down the cost of health care?

— How do we stop bankruptcy due to medical bills?

— How do we assure continued coverage to those who currently have it, but could lose it due to unaffordable premiums, moving, divorce, job loss, denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, or a catastrophic illness?

Health care reform is not just for the poor, it is for all of us.

— Phyllis Waldenberg, Port Ludlow

Flaws in Obama’s plan

Charles Krauthammer’s column clearly points out the major flaw in President Obama’s health-care legislation: the failure to use all good ideas, wherever they come from.

Uncoupling health care from employment would be a major beneficial change to today’s health-care delivery. And it could be done simply. In the next tax legislation, make health insurance a nondeductible item in employers’ taxes. That would ensure that employers would quickly cease offering health insurance. Money not used for health insurance could then be used to raise wages.

— Jean Ferry, Issaquah

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