Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 17

Unions trade wages for health benefits

The proposal to delay taxing Cadillac health plans of union members because union members gave up something – wages – to get better health benefits is faulty logic.

What this logic shows is that Congress doesn’t have a clue as to how a business is run.

Because someone is not a union member doesn’t mean they didn’t give up wages for their Cadillac health plan. A business pays employees wages and benefits – a total package with a total cost. If a business offers a Cadillac health plan to nonunion employees, you can be sure they pay those employees less in the form of wages, than they would have if the health plan was less generous.

Unions trade wages for health benefits during negotiations – the rest of us are just told this is your pay, these are your benefits.

I don’t understand the difference.


Finish health care reform

Health care is a systems problem which, if solved, will have a beneficial impact on many other problems in our country. Imagine what energies could be available for good work in the world if no one in the United States had to worry about paying for health care, and if people received health care when they need it. How powerful would our society be?

I do not believe Congress should delay. Rather, I urge my representatives to continue to work with great energy toward passing health care reform as soon as possible. I wish for all members of Congress to set aside their ideological differences and pass this reform for us, the American people. There’s much more work to do. Finish this and face the next thing.


Health care costs skyrocketing

It is clear that the future economic prosperity and well being of our nation and its citizens depends now, more than ever, on a significant overhaul of our health care system and the way it is financed. Health care spending rose to $2.5 trillion in 2009 – $8,000 per person – and is expected to nearly double in the next 10 years. Without action, there will be more lost jobs, more bankrupt families and more added to the national debt.

I am a retiree and soon will be eligible for Medicare. However, my own recent experiences with the health care system, in spite of the fact that I have health insurance through my wife’s employer, demonstrate that my wife and I cannot continue a middle-class lifestyle as health care costs mount for non-insured or under-insured medical services.

Congress is close to passing meaningful health care reform. I agree with President Barack Obama that Congress must pass the legislation now, and I urge members of both parties to support it. Now is not the time for delay. Now is the time for action!


Address effect of depleted uranium

Exposures to depleted uranium and depleted uranium dust continue to pose health problems for U.S. troops, their spouses and offspring. People of Afghanistan and Iraq are undeniably suffering its effects with illnesses comparable to Hibakusha, or “those affected by radiation” after the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan.

How can we stand by while U.S. soldiers are ordered to use weaponry that will contaminate their own environment? Depleted uranium explodes into dust that can be breathed/ingested. These particles are radioactive, chemically toxic, cannot be cleaned up, and cause chronic and life-threatening illness. Even before exploded, boxes of depleted uranium, used as seats, have caused rectal cancer.

With over half of Gulf War veterans on permanent disability and a tenfold increase of cancer in Iraq, why do we remain blind to a problem that has existed for over 20 years?

Nuclear scientist Dr. Rosalie Bertel has done extensive studies that shed light on depleted uranium’s toxic effects on the brain, causing aggressiveness and other behavioral problems.

Maj. Doug Rokke, Army veteran, with a Ph.D. in health physics and forensic science, was exposed to depleted uranium and continues to study, speak and work toward an end to its use.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, chief of nuclear medicine at a veterans hospital in 1991, was terminated for researching the effects of radiation exposure. With hope that adherence to the international bans on depleted uranium use were imminent, upon his death in 2004 a U.S. soldier donated his body to Dr. Durakovic as evidence of depleted uranium effects.


Bill would protect vulnerable children

With the Washington Legislature’s primary focus being placed on the state’s budget deficit, one easily forgets other important bills are being addressed. Thankfully, the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness recognized the importance of House Bill 2424 — protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse by sending it to the House floor for a vote with a “do pass” recommendation.

Important aspects of the bill are that it defines the possession of sexually explicit materials depicting children to include intentional viewing of such materials via the Internet, and clarifies the unit of prosecution to mean per item.

In State vs. Sutherby, the Washington state Supreme Court held that the unit of prosecution is per possession rather than the number of units or victims depicted. This ruling failed to provide justice to all the children that were victimized. The passage of HB2424 prevents similar injustices from occurring and provides validation to child victims. Perpetrators engaging in child exploitation must be held fully accountable to all the children they victimize.

As voters we have an opportunity to protect the rights of children by contacting our lawmakers through the legislative hot line at 800-562-6000 and demanding a “yes” vote on HB 2424.