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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

We need a new vision

Martin Luther King Jr. said: "If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survival, then we must find an alternative to war. In a day when vehicles hurtle through outer space and guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can claim victory in war." This is especially important to remember as our government has taken us into war without the approval of the United Nations and most of the world, including many in our own country.

We are rightfully concerned about weapons of mass destruction. So far, the United States has been the only country to use them. The possibility of their being unleashed on our troops in this preemptive strike, by other nations in this war and by terrorists in the future, is indeed frightening. The danger to all people has been increased.

It seems to me that we should be considering real worldwide disarmament of all weaponry and the elimination of the use of military force. Unsuccessful efforts have been made in the past. But the urgency to find non-violent ways of resolving conflicts today is overwhelming. Precious resources should not be squandered when economies are collapsing and unmet human needs prevail worldwide. Democracy will be even more difficult to encourage following the destruction of war. Our own democratic rights are threatened. We need a new vision of what a peaceful world would look like.



'Doctor, I can't afford it'

In his March 16 letter to the editor, Jeff Jones propagates a myth that is simply not true. He says: "Health care in this country is the best in the world." The World Health Organization has ranked the overall quality of health care in the U.S. as the 37th best in the world. The only area we rank as No. 1 is in the cost of health care.

It is true that the very wealthy, including foreigners, have access to very high quality health care in this country. But for many Americans, access to health care is becoming more and more restricted.

For two decades I worked as a health care provider. During that time, not a single day passed in my practice that I did not hear, "Doctor, I can't afford it" or "Doctor, it costs too much." I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to see my patients leave without the care they needed.

I no longer practice due to a medical disability, and I have joined the ranks of the 45 million other uninsured Americans in this country. Study after study, as well as the experience of the 36 countries that provide better health care at less cost, has shown that universal health care would provide better quality of care for less cost.

I became even more of a believer when a surgical procedure was prescribed for me, and I had to say, "Doctor, I can't afford it."



Lost school day never regained

I think it is sad when a teacher at the University of Oregon, Matthew Dennis (Register-Guard, March 19), advocates middle school children skipping school to protest the Iraq war. Doesn't he understand that middle school may be the last school some of these students attend? This may be their last chance to be educated.

A day lost at school is never regained. One can always be a protester, but one can't always be a student.



Start rebuilding at home

I have never spoken out about the doubts I've had about our government. However, I recently learned that President Bush is asking Congress for $75 billion for the war in Iraq. This is appalling to me.

I support our men and women who are overseas fighting. I fear for them and their families, and know that these men and women are doing their duty. While I do feel for the people of Iraq, I would like to know where President Bush thinks we're going to get this money. I was always taught that charity begins at home.

I have been laid off for six months and am still looking for work. I have driven through Eugene and seen businesses closing their doors or filing for bankruptcy. A higher percentage of people are out of work in Oregon than any other state. I have to ask, what about us?

Our government tells us to live within our means when it is not able to do so. We vote down measure after measure for tax increases, and every time we turn around we are voting on more of them. People in Oregon are losing homes, living on the street, begging for food and medical care - yet our government wants to rebuild Iraq. When are we going to start rebuilding here at home?

How much more in debt do we have to become before we, as United States citizens, stand up and say enough is enough?



Military dumps mentally ill

Not revealing mental illness may prevent us from looking weak to the enemy, but not treating mental illness only makes us look stupid. The airborne units and the Marines hide mental illness and often dump patients from service without medical references and by concealing records. Other service branches do the same, but not with as much ruthlessness. Veterans go into civilian life untreated for illnesses and uninformed about disability options.

The families of those recently injured and killed by a soldier with hand grenades in Kuwait should have this information. I'm writing a book about it because I am appalled by the possibility that there are thousands of veterans whose lives were ruined by the disappearance of a doctor's recommendation and were cheated out of disability pensions by the disappearance of a diagnosis.

It appears the military still needs civilian intervention on this subject. I don't care if the Army is embarrassed. I don't care that the Veterans Administration wants to save money. The Hippocratic Oath must be upheld for mental illness as much as any other illness. The proper medical care of our young soldiers and a proper disability status for the dumped veterans are more important than image and thrift.

I suspect the grenade thrower has had previous psychiatric experiences. The families of the victims should know. If embarrassment and a lawsuit will bring a swifter end to this decades-old medical atrocity, so much the better.



Others should rebuild Iraq

It is too late to stop this unjust war. You don't stop a charging elephant with a placard, though perhaps we need to keep the placards in view of the TV cameras. We must now work on the war's aftermath, to ensure that the United States does not direct Iraq's reconstruction.

Conquerors are the worst people to be in charge of rehabilitation, and most of the nations of the world do not trust us to take the central role in the peace of the Middle East. We have squandered their good will with our rush to battle, and our rhetoric only strengthens their perception that we are bent on turning the conquered into imitations of the conqueror.

Let us work to get America to step aside and contribute to reconstruction by the United Nations. Only a common effort by many nations will assist the Iraqi people - who have suffered tyranny long enough - to achieve the kind of government and society they wish. Our government is all too ready to impose on them the kind we desire and call it freedom.



They're falling off the abyss

Maybe we should just try to consider just this. Right here in Eugene, we don't seem to be able to keep our own most fragile citizens from falling off the edge of the abyss of human dignity. I'm talking about all of them, folks - from pre-birth to last-breath.

Just notice. Drive around town, you can't miss them.

Anybody want to step up to the plate?



Stop encouraging enemies

What a surprise to see the usual motley crew of anti-U.S. folks gathering at the federal courthouse. My guess is that if we were doing battle with the devil himself, these same people would be there somehow identifying more with him than their own country. That kind of explains why you never see the words "liberal" and "common sense" in the same sentence.

I wonder if these protesters realize how deeply despised they are by the vast majority of the Americans. They delay the successful completion of just wars, give aid to the enemy and, I believe, are a big cause of wars. Our enemies see these anti-American citizens and, because of all the media attention they get, think they represent a large percentage of the population and are emboldened, becoming more difficult to deal with.

The Register-Guard, of course, keeps running anti-U.S. columns by nitwits like Molly Ivins and Alex Cockburn, whose work just further encourages our enemies.



Move past this false issue

Can we, meaning the public and the media, please get past this false issue of "support our troops?" Both sides in the debate over war in Iraq support our troops.

Those who practice their right of dissent against the war want the troops home safe and sound now. Somehow the blend of "support our troops" and "support the war" have been assigned the moral high ground, a place that wrongly presumes patriotism based on a political position.

When I was a Marine sergeant in Vietnam, there was a similar movement of people, headed by the vice president of the United States, to speak for me, to somehow equate my presence there as counter to the war's opposition at home. I was outraged then, and I'm outraged now.

Those who equate dissent as somehow an unpatriotic act aimed at the young men and women who are in-country have so little concept of what it means to be an American that I suggest they drop their big ol' flags and take a class in civics.



Boycott Moore's films

I think we should boycott Michael Moore's documentaries.

To have an opinion is an American right. But to voice that opinion in a public forum that is entirely unrelated, and to do so while our young men and women are fighting to protect that right is inexcusable.


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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 29, 2003
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