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February 3, 2010

Inbox — Feb. 3, 2010

Letters to the Editor

Mind the Gap

Ricky Jones has it exactly right in his Jan. 20 LEO Weekly column. The problem with Obama is that he hasn’t really done anything of substance since he started office despite his bold campaign for “change.” Worse is that many who voted for Obama still seem to support him regardless of this issue. According to a recent (Jan. 25) Gallup poll, Obama now has the largest gap in approval rating between Democrats and Republicans (88 percent versus 23 percent) of any president, the largest gap in recent times.

I was, however, surprised at Jones’ focus on Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, since most of us who aren’t right-wing nuts realize those guys are right-wing nuts whose opinions will hopefully die out when no one cares what they say. It is always interesting that natural disasters, like the earthquake that struck Haiti, both fuel bigoted religious statements and also strengthen some people’s prayers and belief in God. One would think that natural disasters would clearly suggest the opposite hypothesis that there is no such being watching over us or controlling the world. And sorry, the “free will” argument doesn’t cut it either. Were Haitians who are too young to know or understand religion free to decide their fate? Thus, it is aid from all over the world, rather than banter from the pulpit, that gives hope to those caught in these terrible disasters.

Paul R. Johnson, Highlands

Easy Access

Your Jan. 20 cover story titled “Enslaved in the shadows” did the community a service by shining a light on the world of human trafficking. As Jonathan Meador correctly reported, prostitutes do move around the country along an underground circuit. That circuit was exposed during the trial of a Korean massage parlor owner in December 2008 at the federal courthouse in Covington. The massage parlor was even listed on the USASexguide Internet site that Meador uncovered. Yet Johns don’t even have to log onto the Internet to find one of these working girls, they can just flip to page 38 of the same issue of your magazine.

Jim Hannah, Cincinnati

Right to Health Care

In a letter discussing several previous letter writers’ belief that health care is a right, Rich Mills wrote: “Allow me to suggest that perhaps no one has a right to something someone else must provide.” While I agree that health care is not a “right” that citizens can expect from society, I believe it is a human need that should be provided through strict government regulation. Clean water, electricity, garbage pickup, waste disposal, and police and fire protection are all examples of services provided, subsidized or strictly regulated by local, state or federal governments. None of these are a human “right” as Mills defines it, yet we as people generally don’t complain about the taxes that go to helping pay for these services. Why not? Because governments decided they are essential public services. As time passes, the public good that is done and observed by all who benefit from such a service leads to an overwhelming majority that then begins to consider said service a “right” of the people. Many of us believe health care should be considered such an essential public service. In my view, our government dropped the ball on health care when it allowed some enterprising entrepreneurs to turn what had been a charitable industry run by faith-based institutions into a for-profit enterprise in the 1970s.

Mills’ statement that “No one wants to see people suffer and die” rings hollow to me. While few may want to see it, those who advocate against public health care are essentially turning their heads away from the suffering and death that is a byproduct of the inaffordability, inaccessibility and denial of claims that are the common result of our current health care system. I consider such a turning away equivalent to what the law describes as contributory negligence or reckless disregard for the pain, suffering and deaths of our fellow citizens. Such a condition must surely be addressed in a manner that ensures the “needs” of the many are not denied or violated by the rights of the privileged who wish not to contribute to the well-being of their fellow citizens.

Tim Schooler, Middletown

All Ears

I would like to thank Cleland Welton and James Hill for their thoughtful responses to my letter about whether there exists a right to health care (last few weeks of Inbox). I noticed that neither Hill nor Welton addressed my suggestion that if people decline to become doctors and nurses, there is no way to have health care, and so it cannot possibly be a right. There is no right to a good or service.

Why does Welton think liberty must be provided by others? What else is liberty but the natural right, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it, “to be let alone”? The hermit has the same right to be let alone as the woman walking down Broadway. This right is “inalienable” and not provided by others but our birthright as human beings. Governments and societies cannot provide liberty, they can only protect it or trample it.

Hill gives two examples of what he calls civil rights: trial by jury and education. But trial by jury is not so much a right as a mechanism to protect the liberty of citizens from government power. As for education, if we as a society believe education is a right, we don’t act like it. Instead of giving people an option, we compel children to attend school. This seems to have more the flavor of a social duty than an individual right.

Hill says created rights have the same validity as natural rights. But if we have civil rights — as Hill defines them — that must be provided by others, then we don’t have the natural right “to be let alone.” If we are compelled to pay for something or to attend something, we are not being let alone.

Both Hill and Welton seem content to let rights be whatever a majority of society defines them to be at the current time. If tomorrow our society voted to make it a right to have only one ear, and called on the government to compel us to exercise the new right by having one of our ears chopped off, how can Hill or Welton oppose this with their standard? Can we rely on the outlandishness of this example as a defense against it, or something like it?

In addition, Hill willingly sacrifices his liberties on the altar of “functioning societies.” I know not what course Welton and Hill may take, but as for me ...

Rich Mills, Shawnee

Spill the Beans

I watched President Obama go into the lion’s den of the Republican members of Congress. The lions chewed him up and spit him out. Poor guy didn’t have a chance. He was totally incompetent when it came to hiding his mastery of the issues. He came off as a smart, informed, educated intellectual.

Granted he didn’t use any of those New England pronunciations. Every time Kerry used words like “aunt” or “farther,” I could see 5,000 votes flying away from the Democrat’s nest. While speaking like a middle American white guy, Obama could not keep from spilling the beans that he reads — how embarrassing! America doesn’t want someone who reads more than the sports page! We want an “aw gosh” drinking buddy who chops wood and drives a pickup.

President Obama’s second major blunder was dissing the tea-baggers. Real men don’t cooperate and discuss things rationally with logic and facts. Real players shout, scream, call people names and make up facts.

As I was watching this disaster, I kept thinking about Sarah Palin and how she will hand Obama his ass in their 2012 presidential debates. As they shake hands, she will wink and ask, “Can I call you Hussein?” From there on, she is going to “own” him.

Sam Sloss, Highlands

"Drinking Buddies" should Not be American Presidents

By the_rationalist
What a sad commentary Sam Sloss writes on politics in the U.S. Unfortunately, he is probably correct that many vote for an elusive "drinking buddy" when they go to the polls. This explains, for example, why Bush, Jr. was 'elected' twice! We have already seen what happens with fun-loving drinking buddies. America will only improve for ordinary Americans when intelligent politicans work for the people (good example, Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont) rather than good ol' drinking buddies like Bush. Those are the people we should expect or desire to run the country. And logic and fact are vices to be avoided?? So, those who shout loudest are de facto correct? I guess this explains all the creationists and Glenn Becks in America. As a Massachusetts native, I would also like to point out that the "au" in "aunt" makes Kerry's pronounciation correct ("ahnt"), rather than the arthropod ("ant"). Route, another example (pronounced "root"), comes from the French word. These are how words are still spoken in England for which both the New England accent and our mother language are derived. It seems to have gotten mangled as it moved West. If dumbing down the English language is a virtue, as Sam Sloss seems to suggest, then this is a virtue I'm happy to ignore.

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