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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freedom on a Small Island with a Big Heart

Sabin Willett is to be commended for his piece on the Uighers and for his work for those interned at Guantanamo (Freedom on a small island with a big heart, Boston Globe, June 16: A15).

I am appalled by the cowardice of the Obama administration and the congress and by the lies of right-wing commentators. These people are innocent of any crimes against the United States. It is time we took Colin Powell seriously. He famously said: “If it’s broken, you own it.” We have broken the lives of these Uighurs.

We need to do all we can to fix them, not lock them up in Guantanamo, nor send them to Albania -- six are in a refugee camp there -- nor to Bermuda, not to Palau. These may seem like paradise compared to Guantanamo but they are places where the Uighurs lack friends.

There ae thriving Uighur communities in the United States. The President should grant them all, including those in Albania, refugee status and admit them to the USA.

P.S. Sabin Willett also mentions that he "watched ... as four innocent men were unshackled." I hope he meant this metaphorically not literally. It is an affront to American justice if these people continued to be held in shackles after being found guiltless.

Sent to Boston Globe

Drugs Won the War

Nicholas Kristof calls for a commission to study current drug policy (Drugs Won the War, New York Times Week in Review, June 14, 2009: 10). There is no need. In 1972 a Canadian Royal Commission on the non-medical use of drugs (Le Dain Commission) made its report (

The Canadian Government ignored its findings. The US should ask the Canadian Embassy for a copy and fully implement its findings.

Sent to New York Times

Doctors and the Cost of Care

With respect to the AMA and the Health Insurance cartel, we need facts not spin (Doctors and the Cost of Care, New York Times Week in Review, June 14, 2009: 7).

Fact, for nearly forty years the AMA has opposed improvement in health care coverage. Spin, the AMA now claims that it can control costs and improve coverage.

Fact, for nearly forty years, the Insurance industry has opposed improving coverage. Spin, they now claim that they can control costs and provide universal coverage.

They are not to be believed.

Only a competing single payer system will do. The call for a trigger is absurd. If the industry had the will it could have done what it proposes sometime in the past forty years. It has not, giving them a few more years would be an unreasonable waste of time during which many would remain uninsured.

The idea of small cooperatives is also un workable. That is the same formula that the industry imposed with the drug plan -- small cooperatives can bargain with the drug cartels (I mean the pharmaceutical companies) but the government cannot bring its massive purchasing power to bear. That plan has no hope of cost reduction.

We must vote for a single payer competitor to be in the mix.

Sent to New York Times

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Single Payer Health Care

I too have experienced the Canadian healthcare system.
All countries ration healthcare: America does it by price; other countries through waitlists.
At least in Canada, everyone has a chance to get on a waitlist, unlike the United States with 47 million uninsured.

Sent to Wall Street Journal

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Quagmire Ahead

There is much to agree with in David Brooks' column (The Quagmire Ahead, New York Times, June 2, 2009: A21). It will be very hard to change the GM culture.

I must object to his sneers against the UAW for it having negotiated the job bank and 'out at 50' deals. He has forgotten their rationale.

In the past, the big automakers used to close down for a couple of months each year in order to retool for the next model year. The union negotiated that the 10 month wage should be spread over 12 months. That is the genesis of the job bank.

Assembly line work is backbreaking and debilitating. The cycle time at Lordstown was about 63 seconds. That is, a worker faced a new car assembly every minute and had to undertake his or her assigned operation, that is sixty times an hour, and about 500 times a day. And that is for your whole working life, day in and day out. That is why the retirement at 50 deal was negotiated.

A better understanding of labor history would enable us to realize that these labor practices were not insane.

Sent to New York Times