Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Letters 6/20/22

- June 20th, 2011
My husband and I taught and traveled in Europe for eight years. A
Hungarian professor once told us that his countrymen willingly tax
themselves for “cradle to grave” education and health care. And teachers
are highly valued throughout Europe.
Campaigning Michigan politicians espouse the importance of quality
education, then are quick to criticize educators and even quicker to cut
funds. The “demonizing” of teachers has been spread by a right wing agenda
supported by the Mackinaw Center, the Republican Tea Party faction, and
the American Legislative Council throughout the state and nation.
This attack might be why some students even of elementary age show little
respect for their teachers and misbehave in class. How can increasing
class size help teachers handle the problems that arrive on their
doorstep? How much is society to blame?
Yes, ineffective teachers exist, but ineffective individuals are in every
walk of life. How have public schools suddenly become so “terrible”?
Misuse of test scores? Lack of parental support? Societal problems?
Charter schools? Proposal A? Michigan’s fine public schools consistently
had attracted families to locate here. The quality of education hasn’t
changed in most areas. Perception has. Stop the attacks!

Donna Dodd • TC

Oil shortage deception
We do not have an oil shortage nor does trouble in the Middle East have
much of a bearing on supply and demand. From a consumption standpoint, a
little over 10% comes from the Persian Gulf to us. Most of the 40% of our
imported oil comes from places around the globe where politics and strife
have little bearing.
Further, remember it is the benefit to the importer that is what cements
the contract. Those countries who export oil want to export it regardless
of what political issues are at hand. We are paying up to $4.25 a gallon
for gas because:
1) We are significantly short of oil refineries; there have only been
several new refineries built in the U.S. since 1976.
2) Oil is traded regularly on the commodities exchanges; you know, where
investors buy low and sell high. It is very simple to see why the price
of crude oil from which gas is made is going up; check the market price of
crude. And that folks has absolutely nothing to do with supply and demand.
3) Gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil is as critical a public utility
as any. We long ago made public utilities insure supply and at an
affordable price.
Republicans refer to insuring our oil supply in the dramatic terms of
nationalizing the oil industry, as if it is a communistic concept. It is
not; it is providing one of the most important commodities to our
livelihood and well being. Oil is the sole reason we have gone to wars,
lost American lives and crumbled our economy for years now. It is the
“national interest” being defended.
It is not in our national interest that we put our military in harm’s way
so Exxon and Shell continue to have profits greater than even the largest
corporation‘s gross sales. It is perhaps the greatest fleecing of America
that has ever taken place. And the consumer is being duped by Big Oil’s
hypnosis.

David Lerch • Charlevoix

Learn from others
Are we “too big” to learn from others?
We can bring about fundamental change in our health care system by
borrowing ideas from foreign models. Unfortunately, many Americans
intensely dislike the idea that we may learn useful policy ideas from
other countries, particularly in medicine. The biggest objection is that
foreign health care is socialized medicine.
The contention is that the United States, with its commitment to free
markets and low taxes, could never rely on big-government socialism the
way other countries do. Americans have learned in school that the private
sector can handle things better and more efficiently than government ever
could. In U.S. policy debates, the term “socialized medicine” has been a
powerful weapon. This phase has prevented universal access to health care
for six decades.
There are two basic flaws in this argument.
Most national health care systems are not “socialized.” Many foreign
countries provide universal health care of high quality (no waiting lines)
at reasonable cost using private doctors, private hospitals, and private
insurance plans. Some countries offering universal coverage have a smaller
government role than the U.S. does.
Americans switch to government-run Medicare when they turn 65; yet in
Germany and Switzerland, seniors stick with their private insurers no
matter how old they are.
“Socialized medicine” may be a scary term, but in practice, Americans
rather like government-run medicine. The U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs is one of the world’s purest models of socialized medicine at
work. In the Medicare system, covering 44 million elderly or disabled
Americans, the federal government makes the rules and pays the bills. And
yet both of these “socialized” health care systems are enormously popular
with the people who use them and consistently rate high in surveys of
patient satisfaction.

Ronald Marshall • Petoskey

Trail mix-up
While I really appreciate the Northern Express, the Random Thoughts
article (“Northern Michigan’s Top Adventures”) contained an error that I
just had to write.
The trail mentioned as the Manistee River Trail is actually a section of
the North Country Trail. The Manistee River Trail is a trail downriver
from Hodenpyl Dam that along with another section of the North Country
Trail (that runs parallel on the other side of the Manistee) creates a
nice loop of roughly 20 miles.

Stephen Hammontree • via email

READINGS
From ‘The Fox News Fear Factory” by Tim Dickinson in the June issue of
Rolling Stone:

“Producer Roger Ailes knows exactly who is watching Fox News each day, and
he is adept at playing to their darkest fears in the age of Obama. The
network’s viewers are old, with a median age of 65; Ads cater to the
immobile, the infirm and the incontinent, with appeals to join
class-action hip-replacement lawsuits, spots for products like Colon Flow
and testimonials for the services of Liberator Medical (“Liberator gave me
back the freedom I haven’t had since I started using cathetors.”) The
audience is almost exclusively white -- only 1.38% of viewers are
African-American...
“...The result of (Fox News’) concerted campaign of disinformation is a
viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world.
According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of
all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe
the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe
Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to
say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to
doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University
of Maryland reveals ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer
they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in
providing people with information, or even a balanced range of
perspectives.”

 
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