Views in brief

November 6, 2009

We need a real public option

AT AGE 88, and a member of Physicians For A National Health Program, I am entirely in sympathy with the Cigna Seven ("Why the Cigna Seven sat in").

Bold actions, as with this group, are our one chance to accomplish anything worthwhile regarding health care. I am, personally, a single-payer advocate, but I fear that realistically that we must satisfy ourselves with a "public option." This, however, must be true "Medicare for all"--and not a watered-down version such as a public option that only kicks in via "triggers" or a similar sellout. And remember that the American Medical Association represents corporate lobbies, not physicians.

I have some hope for the House of Representatives passing a realistic bill; however, the Senate is surely another matter in view of the baksheesh paid to several Democratic senators, especially those on the Finance Committee. The president appears to have an idee fixe regarding Sen. Olympia Snow--who merely voted to get a bill out of committee, and not for a meaningful health care proposal. Obama appears, on this issue, to be like a jellyfish to Sen. Harry Reid.

I write a weekly health care column for the Rag Blog, and my views, which many feel are extreme, are set out there.

I do think, for instance, that, as in Europe, the basis of health care is good primary care physicians--i.e., general practitioners, internists and pediatricians. Their fees must be increased under Medicare or any national health plan to attract further medical school graduates to these areas. Many of our surgical specialists are very much overpaid. The government must sponsor and pay for medical care and education for primary care doctors.

I find that the general public does not understand the term "public option." In a checkout line, I did a brief survey, and four out of six folks could not define the word "option." This matter must be defined for the public.
Dr. Stephen R. Keister, from the Internet

Puerto Rican workers show the way

THANK YOU for providing a description of the current events and effects of the crisis in Puerto Rico ("How to light a fire").

It shows that under the apparent calm, the real spirit of the Puerto Rican identity is still alive. It also demonstrates that it is by cooperation among the workers that they could oppose those who are interested in continuing to profit from their work. What continues to be a challenge is to develop the clear awareness of this fact.
Eulogio Besada, Hollywood, Fla.

The end of an era in music

THE PASSING of Mercedes Sosa is the end of an era ("Blending politics and music"). Even though there are artists in Latin America committed to human rights and peace-building, it is difficult not to see the commercial interest behind them. Moreover, I doubt they have the education, formation and the experience of Ms. Sosa. Perhaps an exception is the Colombian band Los Aterciopelados.
Emma, Bogota, Colombia

Why our words matter

I WOULD like to point to people's attention that I have read in and heard at our latest Northeast Socialist Conference words like "SOB" (son of a bitch) and "mother fucker." Interestingly these insults were pronounced and written by male members of the International Socialist Organization.

This is an inadmissible use of sexist epithets. I wish comrades (particularly male comrades) realized that using sexist slurs to deride only drives a wedge between women and men.
Francois Laforge

Liberation and the disabled

IN HIS article on animal rights, or the lack of animal rights, Paul D'Amato says: "[Hitler's] concern for killing living things did not extend to Jews, Gypsies, gays, communists and Slavs" ("Socialism and 'animal rights'").

I am not going to comment on animal rights themselves, but I would ask why people with disabilities are left off the list of groups that Hitler had no concern for. People with disabilities are in between, unable to organize when they are down, but able to organize and stand up for their rights when they recover or have assistive technology.

Should the people with disabilities not be considered eligible for liberation and rights because some can't defend themselves or use some abilities?
Charles Feldman, from the Internet