Views in brief

Turned down for health care

RECENTLY, I applied and was summarily denied health care coverage from Kaiser Permanente. The reason? I disclosed that as a teenager, I suffered from severe menstrual cramps and sought treatment to alleviate my pain.

The fact that I'm a woman who gets her period apparently means that I am too much of a liability to deserve and have access to health care. Unfortunately, this egregious sexism should come as no surprise to the millions of Americans with substandard or no health care at all.

Why is it that, in a country as wealthy as the U.S., 50 million people are uninsured? The answer lies in the logic of capitalism--in the one-sided class war fought by employers against the working class.

Kaiser Permanente is just one corporate giant amongst many others in a for-profit industry that rakes in billions of dollars a year while making every effort to provide as little assistance as possible to working people who continue to see their living standards drop every day.

Everyone has some sort of health care horror story. But I think it's time to write a new story that starts with some serious health care reform and ends in the total dismantling of the profit system to replace it with something far better: a society based on meeting human need instead of thieving corporate greed.
Karen Knoller, San Francisco

What kind of "change?"

AFTER READING the article "Will Voters Get the Change They Want?" (January 11), I was left with a question: Does Obama, or even Hillary Clinton for that matter, represent a change at all in the disposition or tactics of the U.S. ruling class?

Several things are self-evident to me: first, that the surge of support for Obama/Clinton (and their corresponding rhetorical adaptations) represent mass disaffection among working-class people from the status quo of the Bush agenda; and second, that Obama/Clinton don't represent any "change" that will benefit the working class, and therefore people's hopes for a radical break from the status quo will ultimately be dashed.

However, do Obama/Clinton represent a real tactical change for the ruling class from the Bush agenda, or merely a "repackaging" of that agenda with a "fresh face?" Is their talk about "change" really nothing more than hype and style, or does the ruling class really want a break from the Bush mode of rule (for instance, more focus on global multilateralism, the use of "soft power," less overt class warfare on the domestic front, etc.)?

With a looming recession, a disaster in Iraq and rising mass dissatisfaction with American politics (both domestically and internationally), it would seem that the ruling class may actually want real, substantive changes in certain of their policies.

Of course, this is not to say that these changes represent anything workers or oppressed people should be excited about--whenever capitalism changes tack, it does so in view of finding better ways to retain or maintain its supremacy over all other classes and strata of society.

Nonetheless, it is important to know exactly what the capitalist class is up to in all of their twists and turns, so that we can better fight them.
Keith Rosenthal, Boston

Media and the elections

I LIKE watching the news so that I can keep up with what's going on in the world. But lately, I have stopped watching because it seems like all the "mainstream" media is concerned about is how the two parties' presidential candidates are running in Iowa and New Hampshire.

There are 48 other states, and you would think that the American people would be upset with the two-party system of electing the president. Now, some of these candidates are talking about "change." Incumbents and career politicians can't bring change. They are the status quo.

By the way, there are other political parties and independent candidates--but for some reason, Big Media won't talk about them. We need a better system for electing "our" president.
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.