Burdening automakers isn't the answer

To the editor:

Former Gov. Richard Bryan addresses our country's dependence on imported oil by ballyhooing his past efforts to increase the fuel efficiency of our vehicles (Review-Journal, Monday letter). Is there a connection between the two? His solution does not address our dependence on foreign oil; it prolongs it.

Our domestic energy policy should rely on American research and development, innovation and free enterprise to promote the exploration, production and distribution of domestic energy supplies safely. Freedom from costly environmental regulatory constraints would go much further to end our dependence on foreign oil than any congressional magic wand that dictates the type of vehicles Americans should buy.

If politicians believe that burdening the domestic auto industry with additional mandates solves the problem of foreign oil dependence, we can look forward to a rosy future of more expensive automobiles running on more expensive gasoline. It does nothing to curtail our demand for foreign oil supplies.



Health care

To the editor:

With Michael Moore's new film polemic, "Sicko," comes the predictable chorus of voices, including the Review-Journal's Geoff Schumacher, pining for increased government control of health care. Assuming Mr. Moore's film has a solid factual basis -- a questionable proposition based on his track record -- one still has to wonder why Mr. Moore's solution to the problem is to look for nations that have ceded more control of health care to the government.

Mr. Schumacher's Sunday column sings the praises of a plan offered by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to further federalize control of the health care industry. To be fair to the senators, their plan doesn't appear to be the worst possible course of action. After all, it does "allow" insurance companies to exist as long as they consent to being under the domination of the federal government.

Still, the obvious question arises: At a time when fewer Americans than ever are expressing confidence in any facet of government, why on earth would we believe that government is the correct party to put in charge of our most personal decisions?

In his column, Mr. Schumacher writes, "The part of 'Sicko' that I found most intriguing was when Moore goes in search of the desk or office in a British hospital where patients pay for their care. There isn't one. That's how it ought to be." Again, an obvious question arises. Why? Mr. Schumacher certainly understands that when health care is provided, somebody pays for it. Would Mr. Schumacher suggest eliminating the check-out aisles at the grocery store? After all, why should anyone have to pay for food?

If there are no offices where one pays for health care, it just means that someone other than the person who has actually received the health care is paying for it.

Increased distance between those who use a commodity and the costs of the commodity is not a formula for reducing the cost of a commodity or increasing the efficiency of its provision.

The government involvement sought by Mr. Moore and Mr. Schumacher is a particularly personal concern for me. Last November I began to feel shortness of breath. Within three weeks I saw a cardiologist who was able to perform an EKG and determine that I should have an angiogram. Three weeks after that the angiogram was performed and a 98 percent blockage of the left descending artery was found. An angioplasty was performed on the spot and I am fully recovered. Given the wait times common in government-controlled health care systems, I might be getting that angioplasty about now -- assuming that I had managed to avoid a heart attack in the interim.

Aside from my own selfish desire to avoid needing a heart attack in order to receive preventive care, consider the massive cost to society of the loss of productivity of people in my situation as we wait for treatment -- a cost no doubt not considered by those advocating government's co-option of health care.

Is our health care system perfect? No, but what system is? Why does the solution for the Moores and Schumachers of the world always begin and end with government intervention? Why don't we look to free market approaches, the method that has led to supermarkets, home improvement centers, car malls and computer stores stocked with an amazing array of products?

Gary Ashman


Isn't that special?

To the editor:

The wire service article written by Jeffrey Zaslow on Friday's Newsline page ("Why do kids feel so special?") quotes professor Don Chance as saying, "The world owes you nothing. You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you'll have to prove it."

This quote should be printed on bumper stickers and placed over every "My kid is a special student or honor roll or hero at whatever school" he or she attends. It should also be placed on banners in every place of learning in this country.