Mail March 26-April 1, 2008 

Sali vs. Health Care

Rep. Bill Sali recently wrote that he believes the best way to reduce costs and make health care for children more affordable is to trust competition and existing private-insurance plans.

He's wrong.

At age 9 months, my son Dixon was diagnosed with a life-threatening congenital heart defect. He received excellent care locally followed by 13 hours of surgery in Chicago. After six months, he was discharged—and we had a $600,000 medical bill.

It didn't matter. Dixon was alive.

Thankfully, my company's excellent health insurance covered almost all of Dixon's bills. But what if we had been among the 40 percent of Idahoans who don't have insurance?

Many will never be able to afford it on their own.

Without insurance, we never could have gone to Chicago for my son's procedure. Without insurance, the best surgeons would never have operated. And without insurance, he wouldn't have survived to become the strong teenager he is today.

Bill Sali claims that all Idahoans should buy their own insurance. That is an insult to any family that's had to sit scared in a hospital waiting room wondering if their child will receive the best care because they can't pay and are uninsured.

More competition would not have made the procedures that saved my son's life affordable. Good health insurance gave my son a chance at life. Every Idaho child deserves the same.

—Walt Minnick, Boise The author is one of two Democratic candidates for the First Congressional District.

Jesus or Allah in Statehouse?

Bravo to Nathaniel Hoffman, who makes a strong argument against legislative prayer (BW, Unda' The Rotunda, "Public Displays of Jesus Affection," March 12, 2008). Politicians are representatives, not clergy members. Not only does prayer take time away from what politicians were elected to do—govern—but all too often, prayer sessions are denominational, which is unnecessarily divisive. How would many Christians feel if legislative prayer were not in the name of Jesus but consistently in the name of Muhammad? Probably that their government was no representative of theirs.

As Hoffman notes, every legislature does prayer in one form or another, which means all U.S. citizens have politicians praying for them while their government is in session. We who prefer our politicians to focus on more pressing matters should let our representatives know to keep their focus where it should be—on governing.

—Roy Speckhardt, executive director, American Humanist Association, Washington, D.C.

Rall's Wrong on Terrorism

Ted Rall is mistaken when he writes that "Terrorism—you can look it up—involves killing people. (BW, Ted Rall, "Eco-Terrorism: No Such Thing," March 19, 2008).

Unlike Rall, I actually did look it up. The American Heritage Dictionary says terrorism is "the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property, with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." Note the phrase "people or property."

Burning a cross in someone's front yard, without physically harming anyone, is clearly a terrorist act. So is burning down a big house in order to scare people into building smaller houses.

—David Martosko, research director, Center for Consumer Freedom, Washington, D.C.

Get The Meat Out

The past three months have brought us bad news about rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and global warming—all linked to consumption of meat and dairy products. This was topped by last month's announcement that the United States Department of Agriculture was recalling 143 million pounds of beef from potentially sick animals.

This week brings good news about the advent of spring and the Great American Meatout (MeatOut.org). Fashioned after The Great American Smokeout, Meatout provides a excuse to turn over a new leaf, kick the meat habit and get a fresh start with a wholesome, nonviolent diet of vegetables, fruits and grains.

It's a diet touted by major health advocacy organizations and health-authorities, facilitated by the selection of delicious meat and dairy alternatives in our local supermarkets.

—Glenn Newkirk, Boise

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