The Baltimore Sun

Make medical care available for all

I agree with Thomas Sowell that people should take responsibility for how they use health care dollars and insurance and for how they care for themselves and use medical facilities, including ERs ("Let's not confuse lack of insurance with lack of care," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 5). I also see his point that national health insurance would not be free.

However, Mr. Sowell notes that in the past he was "lucky enough not to have any heavy duty medical expenses that would have required major operations or a long-term hospital stay." Unfortunately, a lot of people aren't so lucky.

What happens if you have diabetes, lupus, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, a head injury, a major mental illness or cancer or, God forbid, have more than one of these conditions?

How does a person pay for care if he or she needs several hospitalizations or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth of medications a year?

In fact, many people end up declaring bankruptcy because of unpaid medical bills.

And the reason hospital ERs often get stuck with the bill for treating non-emergencies is that people without medical coverage often can't pay to go to a doctor. But in Maryland, ERs, by law, can't turn away the poor -- so that's where people often go if they can't afford care.

Healthy, wealthy and insured people have the luxury of sitting back and saying how the medical system should be run. Being sick and having no insurance doesn't allow you much time to ponder.

National health insurance would not be perfect. But I don't see how anyone can advocate for a system that allows millions to go uninsured.

An inherent part of any free-market system is that some people will have things and others will not.

When it comes to fun things, maybe this is OK.

But medical care should be different.

Dr. Laszlo R. Trazkovich


Does one bad leader spoil whole bunch?

Since when does one immoral Republican determine the entire party's image?

Thomas F. Schaller, in his latest Republican-bashing commentary, suggests that Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's June arrest in a Minnesota airport men's room and his guilty plea to a misdemeanor are just more evidence of Republicans failing to practice what they preach ("'Moral values' party stumbles again," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 5).

Give me a break.

That would be like saying that the $90,000 found in the freezer of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana is evidence of the Democratic Party's lack of honesty and ethics.

But Mr. Schaller didn't talk about that issue, did he?

Mr. Schaller would be wise to remember that one bad apple, or even two or three, does not spoil the whole bunch, whether the bunch is Republican or Democratic.

Gail Householder


Renaming roadway wastes time, money

Last year's campaign for the 7th Congressional District seat offered a weighty discussion of the important issues confronting our country.

That's why I was so disappointed to see our new congressman, Rep. John Sarbanes, devote his time and energy to such meaningless fluff as sponsoring the bill to rename a highway in honor of Cal Ripken Jr. ("House votes to rename I-395 in Ripken's honor," Sept. 6).

Mr. Ripken is a fine man who has received his share of well-deserved honors.

But every second Mr. Sarbanes spent on this legislation and every dollar spent on renaming the highway are wasteful distractions from the real and pressing problems our nation faces.

This law is the kind of frivolous exercise that contributes to the low opinion the public holds of Congress.

Mac Nachlas


Atomic power emits greenhouse gases

The Sun's article "Economics of nuclear power are rethought" (Sept. 4) exposes the reality that nuclear power can subsist only through massive, continuing infusions of taxpayer funding. However, the assertion in the article that nuclear power produces no greenhouse gas emissions is false.

Nuclear power in fact makes a substantial contribution to global warming because the technology actually involves a chain of highly energy-intensive industrial processes. These include: uranium mining, the conversion, enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel, the construction and destruction of massive nuclear facilities and the disposal of nuclear waste.

Moreover, reactors must continually take in massive amounts of water to prevent a meltdown or nuclear fire. Heat waves and droughts have therefore forced many reactor shutdowns and power reductions in both Europe and the United States in recent years.

Nuclear power is thus uniquely vulnerable to the conditions created by global warming.

The solution to climate change is to redirect the billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing big oil, coal and nuclear interests to aid the clean and sustainable technologies of the future: solar, wind and geothermal power, biofuels and advanced hydropower.

Michel Lee


The writer is a member of the board of the Nuclear Information Resource Service.

Renewable energy a better investment

The Sun's article "Economics of nuclear power are rethought" (Sept. 4) outlines the financial woes of the nuclear power industry but ignores the environmental and health risks nuclear power poses.

How can nuclear power claim to be clean energy when it produces highly toxic waste that is deadly for thousands of years?

At the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant, toxic waste is stored on-site, dangerously close to waterways.

Constellation Energy Group should invest in wind and solar power to ensure safe and clean energy for the future, instead of in dangerous and expensive nuclear power.

David Kosmos


The writer is a program associate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Arabs responsible for refugee woes

On the same day some Palestinians attempted to murder Israeli babies by firing rockets at their day care center in Sderot, The Sun published an anti-Israel diatribe which began with a clumsy swipe at Israel's announcement that the tiny state could not accept any more refugees from Darfur ("Palestinian refugees have a prior claim," letters, Sept. 3).

The letter-writer neglects to mention that, as of this writing, Israel has absorbed more refugees from Darfur than the United States has.

But the main point of the letter is to blame Israel for the Palestinian refugee problem, which has existed for 60 years.

Of course, the writer fails to mention that the overwhelming majority of the refugees fled their homes in Israel at the urging of Arabs when much of the Arab world rejected the U.N. partition plan and attacked Israel in 1948.

Those same Arab countries have refused to absorb them since that time.

The Palestinian refugee problem is the fault of the Arabs, not Israel.

Searle E. Mitnick


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