State can't afford to leave autism uninsured

To the editor:

Your Tuesday article, "Autism coverage urged," failed to include several facts needed by readers to understand Assembly Bill 162.

I authored the impact report included in written evidence for the bill, which requires some insurance companies to cover treatments for autism.

The article mentions the economic downturn, that small businesses are already struggling and that the costs of the mandate could hurt them. The fact is, AB162 excludes small businesses. Also, by actuarial calculations, the cost increase per policy holder would be less than 1 percent.

We would not wait for a better economy to provide cancer treatment. Likewise, we cannot wait to provide autism treatment, because children must begin treatment at an early age to get the best outcome. Given that almost all insurers have a diagnostic exclusion for autism and that most parents are unable to afford effective treatment, Nevada children are going without. An estimated 5,702 children have autism in Nevada; less than 7 percent of these children are receiving funding for treatment.

Insuring treatment is not only the right choice from a humane perspective, it is the smart choice for Nevada's future. Studies show the cost for one untreated, low-functioning person with autism can run as high as $6 million for a lifetime of special education and institutional living. Insurance coverage for autism treatment will actually save Nevada millions of dollars over time and allow these children to lead productive, taxpaying lives.

Michele Tombari


Diversity reality

To the editor:

Regent Cedric Crear wrote the Review-Journal in defense of campus diversity initiatives ("Campus diversity efforts indispensable," Wednesday).

There is something to be said for campus diversity and its positive impact. Indeed, the Nevada Policy Research Institute recently conducted an analysis of more than 460 public colleges and universities. Our finding was that a diverse student population is positively correlated with increased graduation rates.

However, diversity initiatives can also have little or no impact or may be taken too far. Penn State's multicultural center, for example, at one time excluded white students from its services. And the University of Oklahoma still offers segregated multicultural centers for multiple ethnic groups -- with the exception of whites. Clearly, this is not inclusivity. It is discrimination.

When it comes to the Nevada System of Higher Education, how well are its diversity efforts actually helping students? After all, the purpose of college is to assist students in acquiring marketable skills they otherwise would not receive.

The results show failure. According to the esteemed Education Trust, UNLV graduates only 29 percent of African-American students and 40 percent of Hispanic students during a six-year span. UNR graduates just 36 percent of African-American and 41 percent of Hispanic students after six years.

Such dismal graduation rates strongly suggest that the higher education system's diversity initiatives are doing little but providing jobs to ivory-tower academics. Instead, it appears as if the state is pretending to care about these students while taking their money and ultimately leaving them indebted and disappointed.

Patrick R. Gibbons



All cleaned up

To the editor:

In his Feb. 20 column, the Review-Journal's John L. Smith referred to the Commercial Center on East Sahara Avenue as "sleazy."

The Commercial Center has more than 150 fine small business owners, mostly minorities and women, who do not appreciate this comment. There were problems here years ago, but since our business association was formed in 2007, we have revitalized the center with millions of dollars in improvements. Mr. Smith has obviously not been here in a few years.

Paula Sadler



Horrible plight

To the editor:

Your March 5 story about the Quezada family -- the father returned to Mexico while his wife and his six children were left here -- was heart-wrenching. I was saddened. I felt sick afterward. While malefactors of all kinds and deadbeat parents roam the streets and are free to do as they wish, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the middle of the night, deports a loving, hardworking father.

After reading some of the reader responses to the article in Sunday's edition, I was more saddened. Yes, Raymundo and Baudelia Quezada entered the United States illegally to make a better life for themselves. Who among us would not have tried to do the same thing in their situation? Those responses showed no compassion at all for the family. They are judging the Quezadas for something they might have done had they not been so fortunate to have been born in the United States. Coming to and living here illegally does not make them less human than any of us.

I think the Immigration and Customs Enforcement used Gestapo tactics to lure Raymundo Quezada from his home. I wonder how these agents can live with themselves and how can they sleep at night.

I hope and pray someone will find a way to bring Raymundo Quezada back to his family and home and one day he and his wife can become citizens of the United States -- just like their six children are.



Lighten that kite

To the editor:

President Obama is trying to launch his socialistic kite on a no-wind day. His devotees can huff and puff all they like, but their utopian plans cannot fly without a steady wind created by a free, vibrant capitalist economy.

As revealed in the Obama Confidence Index -- otherwise known as the stock market -- the strength of the wind, once it returns, is likely to be inversely proportional to the weight of his kite.

The kite's weight must be reduced by the following:

-- Reduce or eliminate business taxes.

-- Stop all new social wealth-transfer programs.

-- Make a significant reduction in the Washington bureaucracy and federal spending.

For those who might think this is Draconian, consider the Russian experience: The non-elite class of citizens lived in poverty while for years the government attempted to stamp out the black market (free enterprise). Only with great effort, with tanks in the streets, did they rediscover that a free market was really their salvation.

As in the example of Humpty Dumpty, Washington, by acts of omission and commission, brought the economy down, and now Washington can't put it back together again. It takes the internal forces of the business world in proper equilibrium to effect real recovery. The sooner we free those forces from the hobbles, loops, spins, conditions, threats and just plain misplaced animosity of Washington, the sooner we will again see a divine economic wind -- perhaps capable of lifting new, weight-controlled kites.



The union way

To the editor:

I spent most of my career as a union member, and a good part of the early years were spent fighting being forced to join. At this company, it was required as a condition of employment. My union dues were deducted from my pay and mostly used to fund political action committees for leftist/Marxist causes that I philosophically despised.

The company was forced to play the part of enforcer, but there was plenty of "other" enforcing going on. Flat tires and disabled engines were common in the company parking lot. The union tirelessly worked for lower productivity, higher pay, more benefits, more job protection, all dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, regardless of how badly it damaged the company. Entrepreneurial innovation was vigorously discouraged and make-work rules were enforced.

If my own company were now faced with unionization, especially under the card-check and arbitration provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act, I would fight it with every tool available and, if unsuccessful, I would sell or close down the business and move it, overseas if necessary. If that were not an option, I would lock the door and let the jobs disappear and the business rot rather than operate under the dominance of a union.

Dale Robertson