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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.4.08




PARASITIC INSURANCE

I read with interest Michael Clay’s opinion about the criminals who injured him with such violent intent (cover story, 8/14). Near the end we see how much Clay owes the medical industry for his repair and recuperation ($20,000). This amount is equivalent to a second violent shock and injury, a second shocking reality to a person of very limited means. To be admitted for emergency treatment, one signs a contract that one will pay. It is understandable that one would sign anything while in extreme pain, just as one may say anything to stop torture. This is not free market capitalism.

Today more than 15 percent of our GDP goes to medical costs, and that is 44 percent more than the second highest country, Germany. It is forecast that the medical economy will soak up 20 percent of U.S. GDP in less than a decade while feeding insurance company profits. Up from 38 million four years ago, 42 million of us are now uninsured, which is part of the reason the U.S. has the lowest life expectancy of eight industrialized nations. Like a parasite, our medical insurance industry is soaking up our lifeblood while slowly killing us at the same time. Is this the kind of economy we want?

Any business seeks to increase profit while serving customer satisfaction. But most people do not know the patient is not the doctor’s real customer; the insurance companies are. When one hears that the U.S. has the best health care system in the world, one should ask, “Best for whom?”

Government-mandated private insurance for 42 million people is not the solution. The uninsured are not the problem. The problem is that our health care system is optimized to serve the bloated and complex medical insurance industry. It’s time to enact a simple and efficient single-payer system that covers all.

Garrick Sitongia, Eugene



NADER IN NOVEMBER

Tom Hayden’s Aug. 21 EW essay, “Dreams of Obama,” struck me as weary resignation and damning with faint praise. It is hardly necessary to add to all the negative things he said about Obama, but here are a few.

Obama keeps saying, when we complain about his flip-flopping on the Iraq War, that the American left hasn’t been listening to him. Listen up, folks. In a July 26 interview with Newsweek, he said that the size of the residual force he would leave in Iraq, after the 16-month withdrawal of the rest, is “entirely conditions-based.” In other words, he’s not going to tell us.

Marjorie Cohn, in a July 29 essay on commondreams.org, wrote that “Obama favors leaving between 35,000 and 80,000 U.S. occupation troops indefinitely to train Iraqi security forces and carry out ‘counter-insurgency operations.’”

Obama may de-escalate the war in Iraq, depending on “conditions,” but he’ll just move the troops to Afghanistan, to bomb more wedding parties. We have no more business being in Afghanistan than we do in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is not about 9/11, whose perpetrators came from Saudi Arabia and are now in Pakistan; it’s part of the larger effort to get military control of the Middle East and its oil.

Ralph Nader will be on the November ballot, nominated by the newly formed Oregon Peace Party. I’ll be voting for him.

Lynn Porter, Eugene



SECRET GOVERNMENT

Is it just like a Republican? Or is there something more sinister here? City Manager Ruiz supports Police Chief Lehner’s law breaking, in not reporting a complaint against an officer to the police auditor. Ruiz supports illegal authority. Ruiz supports authoritarianism against republican democracy. 

Ruiz and Lehner must be immediately fired. The police chief essentially admitted that he broke the law (in a major way). What does this say to our children? It seems the messages are that secret government is better than transparent government, and that power, especially illegal power, is righteous. Is it just like a Republican? Is there a citizens’ initiative way to get rid of these criminals?

And the police had just tortured Ian Van Ornum, who was law-abiding in context. I was electro-tortured for hours in the county jail in Columbus, Ohio. The pain was unbelievable. This one is personal.

Is it just like a Republican that Bush and company lied to start a major war where then there was no terror threat? The CIA reportedly told Bush the source of the WMD “intelligence” was a known fabricator. Osama bin Laden controlled half the world’s opium. According to author Daniel Hopsicker, he wanted to control the rest of it. This was the reason for Sept. 11 and not Islamic fundamentalism.

Kevin Russellm Eugene



DEFINING TERMS

Eugene-Springfield politicians and city administrators calling themselves sustainable is comparable to my calling myself an astronaut. It’s great for picking up votes and girls at bars, but when the rubber meets the road, I couldn’t even give driving directions to Cape Canaveral. 

Last month I suggested that Lane County and Eugene cooperate to pursue a $200 million Economic Development Administration grant to plan and build a biogas facility for LTD that would fuel local public transportation with clean-burning, carbon-positive methane gas made from local organic waste co-digested with city wastewater. The proposal has been flatly ignored at every level of local government on both sides of the aisle. 

Such facilities are common in Europe, but the Lane County facility would be the first of its kind in the U.S. Federal agencies are very interested in funding these types of projects; in addition, such a first-of-its-kind project would be eligible for Senate or House appropriations. It would not cost the taxpayers of Lane County or Eugene a cent and would create hundreds of high-quality jobs. LTD would receive further incentives for transitioning to the compressed gas buses, keeping rates low and future fuel costs predictable. 

The environmental benefits would be beyond the scale of anything currently in America. It might actually lend some legitimacy to the mayor’s empty claims of Eugene being a green city while the American Lung Association reports it has the ninth worst air quality in the United States. 

In the history of American politics there has never been a bigger no-brainer. Yet Mayor Piercy, the Lane County Board of Commissioners, the Eugene City Council and even the Eugene Sustainability Commission aren’t even open to hearing a proposal on the project. Apparently they have more important government stuff to deal with, you know, like parking meter rates and potholes. 

Warren Weisman, Project Director Complejo de Energía Renovable, México, Eugene



ANIMAL-FREE CIRCUSES

It’s that time of year again to remind Eugeneans that circuses are simply no fun for animals. They don’t choose to jump through fiery hoops, stand on their heads or prance around on their hind legs in silly costumes. Circus trainers use bull hooks, whips and other torturous devices to force animals to perform frightening, dangerous and demeaning “tricks” that they cannot comprehend. 

When animals aren’t performing, they are kept in cages or chains. They are deprived of their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage and play. Big cats, bears and primates are forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate and urinate in the same cramped cages. Elephants are chained by the legs for hours at a time. 

Animal abuse is not amusing. Circuses that use only willing human performers, like the wonderful Cirque du Soleil and the Flying High Circus, are truly worthy of awe and admiration. A complete list of animal-free circuses can be found at Circuses.com

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



ALTERNATE ENERGY

In response to Jerry Ritter’s letter Aug. 28: First, I did not say anything about hydrogen being an answer to our “energy woes,” but I do thank you for including my name with the likes of Bobby Kennedy Jr. The article I referred to was an OSU professor’s response to a story regarding hydrogen being used to supplement a diesel truck and the fact that the owner of said truck increased his fuel economy by 60 percent.

The thrust of my letter (8/14) was about utilizing solar, wind and water resources to generate clean electricity. But since you insisted on making my comments regarding hydrogen a personal attack on my ability to understand the “hydrogen economy,” I would like to point out the fact that this esteemed OSU professor, like you, was referring to the issue that electrolysis of water to hydrogen takes more energy than it produces. None of this addresses the fact that the supplemental use of distilled water and baking soda, when electrolyzed as this gentleman in Lebanon did, produces an increase in mileage. 

Yes, it takes electricity to produce the HHO (not pure hydrogen gas), but the energy was available through the battery and vehicle charging system. That was the only claim made, which has nothing to do with what you and the professor are alluding to in using hydrogen as an alternative fuel or “over unity gain,” which is what the professor had addressed in his lengthy diatribe.

Fred Marsico, Corvallis



FORMS AVAILABLE

I am writing this in response to the letter from G.F. Ziegler (“Animal Attack,” 8/21). I, along with my husband, feel a great injustice after we read this article. As responsible dog owners, we have had to deal with this issue from the other side of the leash. To read: “I was told to call animal control, which I did, and was told that since the skin wasn’t broken, they could do nothing. I then asked if I could at least file a report with them and was told they have no forms to record this matter,” is what has truly fueled this letter.

We have in our possession the copies of all forms that deal with this issue. According to Eugene City Code 4.435,  Potentially Dangerous Dog, there are five levels of this offense. Hmm, there’s actually a city code for this, yet there are “no forms to record this matter.” The appropriate level in this case would be a level four ­ any dog that bites a person. Unless “the behavior in question was directed against a trespasser that has illegally entered any residence.” This offense also comes with some pretty good costs: special tag, collar, muzzle and sign to be posted at residence and fine for offense. Also this classification lasts for one year along with other restrictions.

We implore you, the editor, to pass this information on to G.F. Ziegler as well as other readers and citizens of Eugene.

Holly & George Comstock, Eugene



A PLACE FOR ALL

A place to rest; a place to let the children play and run around; a place to share stories; a place to play, for example, chess, music, cards and more; a place to contemplate; a place to meet friends; a place to create — and it’s a park across from our library!

A place for all. The time is now.

Planet Glassberg, Eugene



OVERREACTING POLICE

In response to Peter Gregory’s letters: Gregory’s statements obviously presuppose that the “official” account released by the Eugene Police Department in the case of downtown protests is the correct account, and that any other statements to the contrary are just plain wrong. However, this presupposition is somewhat naive, considering the record of the EPD over the last decade. EPD seems to believe it is above the law in several respects (perhaps buoyed by the same attitude on the part of Bush presidential regime — many, if not most, police personnel are Republican by political persuasion. Ironic, considering they negotiate through a union, the bane of corporate Rs). Even out here on the coast, we’ve heard of the depredations of the EPD.

Why does Gregory believe that the only version with credibility is that of the EPD? This police agency is rapidly losing any claim to credibility in view of their relations with the Police Auditor’s office, not to mention their stonewalling of the Magaña situation, etc.

Many police agencies currently seem to have taken the bit between their teeth in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent attack on civil liberties in this country, and it seems the EPD is no exception. In the current case, Homeland Security officials had NO business directing police presence in a municipal jurisdiction. These protesters were peaceable, and it’s obvious that the police overreacted, egged on by the agent from Homeland Security.

However, Gregory, in his pedantic fashion, seeks to chastise others based on his apparent blind acceptance of the “official” version of events. If one could believe all police (or government) personnel, then I suppose Roger Magaña stands unjustly convicted. But, as radical journalist I.F. Stone said, “All governments lie.” Period.

Gregory would do better to keep his mind open with regard to how government agencies seek to cover their own asses in the wake of mistakes or violations that they commit. This seems to be a prime example. And, since he doesn’t live in Eugene, perhaps his opprobrium is misplaced; maybe he should comment on the hijinks of college students from OSU (in Corvallis, where he resides) who seem to have their own issues with law enforcement/authority.

Tom Gravon, Newport



NO MORE EMPATHY

Regarding the near murder of Michael Clay, Mark Harris in “Restorative Justice” writes, “Two teenagers were raised without sufficient empathy towards the pain and suffering of others, in order to inflict pain and suffering on another.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another is: Two vicious assholes beat a man almost to death for fun, so who the hell cares about their lack of empathy? I suggest that we lock them up and throw away the key. But I guess that just proves I’m short on empathy.

 Mike Kopf, Eugene