Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday March 09, 2011 - 12:38:00 PM

What is Kaiser Permanente Doing? Repeal McCarron-Ferguson to Control Insurance Costs;The Founders on War;The White Elephant Sale; Vote For the Balanced Budget; Berkeley Library Funds;Who Are the Anti-Abortionists; Get Rid of Guns 

What is Kaiser Permanente Doing? 

Kaiser has made the decision of remove their Nurse Practitioners from seeing long-term, ongoing patients and throw them into short relationship rolls without actual patient contact, such as perioperative telephone assessments. 

Why is it important to have the choice of seeing a Nurse Practitioner over a doctor? Let me explain it this way: we all wax nostalgic for the almost mythical old family doctor who knew us, knew our family and history. A doctor who developed a genuine relationship with us as more than a set of symptoms who just walked in the door. People think that service has gone the way of high-button shoes, but it hasn’t. There are people still practicing medicine that same humanitarian way, and they are called Nurse Practitioners. 

Eliminating NP’s as an option for patients leads Kaiser farther into what I think of as conveyer-belt medicine – in one door with a symptom, head down the line with nameless people treating you and exit at the end. Efficient yes, but not the best of what healthcare can offer. 

Kaiser advertises that they want us to “Thrive”, well let us thrive by giving us the choice of seeing Nurse Practitioners. 

Dianne Strong 


Repeal McCarron-Ferguson to Control Insurance Costs 

Recently Blue Shield, Anthem, Blue Cross, Aetna, and PacifiCare announced extravagant health insurance increases here in California and in other parts of the country. Why? Because they can. When referring to health insurance companies, politicians and commentators have used terms such as "cartel," "secret pricing and consolidation," "exorbitant price increases." and "confidential agreements among hospitals, physician groups, insurers and device makers." All these allegations raise antitrust concerns. Unfortunately, the McCarran-Ferguson Act exempts Insurance from the federal antitrust laws. Therefore, antitrust enforcement, if any, is left to the 50 states. The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009" (S.1681), would have repealed this exemption for health insurance companies, but the legislation died in the last Congress. Similar legislation should be introduced again. Repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act coupled with increased antitrust enforcement is a relatively simple first step if the ultimate goals are to rein in health care costs and provide health care to the largest number of consumers. 

Ralph E. Stone 


The Founders on War 

James Madison's often quoted dictum, "No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare," reflected a view that was widely shared by the Founders. That concept was a basis for our Constitution's provision that only Congress can declare war. Yet, today, America's presidents start wars as if they were kings in old Europe. (Those wars, it should be noted, were a major reason our forefathers risked all to leave Europe.) 

United States produces 9.0% the world total oil. In 2009, the U.S. imported about 52% of the crude oil and refined petroleum products that it used. In other words, America could have saved that much oil simply by being more conservative in their consumption rather than having to go to war to try to get back. But they'd rather go to war & lose tens of thousands of lives, & all the billions of dollars a war will cost, & God only knows what else! 

We take a stand for the principle inThomas Jefferson's first inaugural address: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none.Imagine how much this war is costing them! If they would double the price of gasoline for years & years, that still will only be a minute drop in the bucket to what this war is costing them. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 

The White Elephant Sale 

If things appeared unnaturally quiet in your neighborhood this past weekend (March 5th-6th), chalk it up to the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Sale, the most enjoyable rummage sale in Northern California. Housed in a 96,000 square-foot warehouse at 333 Lancaster Street, with 17 departments offering everything from art, linens, furniture, etc., etc., this was Paradise for bargain seeks. And they come -- boy, did they come! 

Shoppers were encouraged to take the Fruitvale Bart, then board a shuttle for a ride to the Warehouse. Not so simple. I waited in line for more than a hour to get on the shuttle. Then, once at the Warehouse, I stood in line another hour just to get inside. Believe me, friends -- it was worth the wait. Only where to begin? Once inside this giant building, handed a map showing the various departments, I felt like a child in a candy store, overcome by so much quality merchandise at such reasonable prices. This being the "free" weekend sale, the Warehouse was understandably jammed and one had to stand in line another hour to have their purchases priced and written up. Again, there was another hour wait for the shuttle back to Fruitvale Bart. Clutching my several purchases, I watched the block-long lines of people hoping to get in before the 4 p.m. closing time. I was one of the lucky ones. 

I understand that last year's White Elephant Sale brought in well over $1-million. I suspect that figure will be surpassed this year, the proceeds supporting many of the Museum's splendid exhibits and educational programs. How fortunate we are to have this wonderful Oakland Museum in our Bay Area. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

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Vote For the Balanced Budget 

Legislators will soon have the opportunity to vote on a balanced budget, based on an even mix of cuts and revenue, including a proposal for a special election on tax extensions. The community and faith leaders of PICO California, representing 450,000 families statewide, believe this proposal must move forward. Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA) is a non-profit, faith based organization of 18 member congregations representing over 10,000 Berkeley families. We provide training in community organizing in order to empower our leaders to become activists for positive change in the areas of parent engagement in the public schools, health insurance for all Berkeley and California residents, fair and affordable housing for our families, just immigration policies, and community safety. BOCA is a member of the PICO NATIONAL NETWORK of faith based community organizations, representing over one million families in 150 cities and 16 states. 

California needs thoughtful and courageous leaders. We need leaders who are open to bipartisan solutions to get the state back on track. We need leaders willing to move beyond partisanship towards a brighter future. And we need leaders with faith in their constituents and in Democracy. 

We are heartened by news of legislators forging a compromise that puts California first. The alternative – devastating cuts to education and health and human services are not an option. 

For our communities and for our state: Have courage. Have faith. Let us vote 

Berkeley Boca 

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Berkeley Library Funds 

I see today, that the Berkeley Public Library is spending Berkeley tax money to advertise in the East Bay Express? Why? there's no reason for our library to advertise in a regional paper. It seems to me that our library is well used enough, and does not need to be spending funding on advertising. Buy more books instead, or have longer hours instead. It clearly seems like an inappropriate use of funds, and should stop immediately. 

yolanda huang 

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Corporate Taxes 

Well, corporate income taxes in this country are one-third lower than they were in 2000—even though corporate profits are up 60 percent and corporations have almost $2 trillion in cash. They’re approaching $7,000 of cash for every man, woman and child in the United States. They’re not investing this money. They’re not creating jobs. They are hoarding this money that they have pulled out of the economy. It’s one of the reasons we’re in so much trouble. 

Now, as to the argument that our tax rate is too high, it is because of all these special favors. The reason the tax code has grown and grown and grown and grown and grown isn’t because of people like you and me and the audience; it’s because of all these favors being bought from politicians. How we could raise a trillion dollars a year—that would double the revenue we get, it’s equal to the revenue we get from the individual income tax—by shutting down loopholes and favors for businesses, particularly the oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries. The fact is, the very largest corporations, the ones who are the vast majority of wealth in America, they pay an effective tax rate of about 15 percent of their profits. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 

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Who Are the Anti-Abortionists? 

Anti-abortionists have been crafting their art for three decades. 

Anti-abortion activists have started out the new year by conducting hidden-camera stings at clinics, putting up a billboard declaring abortion the No. 1 threat to blacks, and performing ultrasounds on pregnant women in front of Ohio legislators. 

So who are these people? The bulk of the anti-abortion movement are fundamentalist and evangelical fringe. They are the Taliban in Afghanistan oppressing women and are fundamentalists who have co-opted religions around the world. The fundamentalist movement preach and seek to control woman's reproductive rights and behavior. 

In America, fundamentalist and evangelical anti-abortionists are trying to deny women of their basic freedom, God-given freedom of choice. Woman's bodies are under attack by a bunch of religious fanatics. 

Fundamentalist men and the women who support them have adopted a narrow, literal interpretation of religious scripture and they seek to impose it on women and America. 

It's not just abortion rights at stake, it's also access to real sex education, birth control, and medical privacy. 

Ron Lowe 

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Get Rid of Guns 

Why ruin Spring - let's clear up the crazy gun logic that keeps being perpetrated by NRA and gun lobbies. Foreign newspapers, The Times, London, The Dominion Post, New Zealand, Arabic Times, Kuwait, The Express Tribune, Karachi, Pakistan, The Japanese Times, Japan, are not filled with gun violence stories. Why? They don't have the gun culture that America has 

Guns are lethal weapons - they kill animals, people, kill a lot of people in America. More than 100,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents each year. Time magazine breaks down this100,00 figure in its January 24, 2011 issue. 31,224 people died from gun violence; 17,352 people killed themselves with guns; 12,632 people were murdered with guns; 3067 children and teens died from gun violence; 2,161 children and teens were murdered with guns; 683 children and teens killed themselves with guns, and, 66,768 people survived gun injuries. 

If this isn't insane enough the Texas and Arizona legislatures have bills that would allow guns on college campuses. Can't you see it, a kid pulls out a Glock from his backpack and sprays the hall with bullets because he sees his girl in the arms of another guy. Or, a student doesn't get the grade he thinks he deserves; remember he's got that Glock in his backpack. 

Some people seem to think they can solve a problem with a gun; a broken romantic relationship, family disputes, work related arguments. The easy availability of guns let's people turn their thoughts and emotions into actions. 

Ron Lowe 

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Thanks for identifying the March 2 KPFA item on Page One as a “press release,” but isn’t your policy to put KPFA-related material on the opinion page? The source of this “press release” is “SaveKPFA.” Readers should understand that the “SaveKPFA” website is the slick propaganda arm of a small but powerful group of station insiders. Propaganda operates through an ends-justify-means model, not a duty to report events accurately and truthfully model. One of the primary tools of propaganda is the use of deception to shape perceptions of reality. It’s sad and confounding how easy it is for “SaveKPFA” to use relationships with progressive luminaries and various media outlets to lend credibility to and provide a platform for their self-serving narrative. 

Former Morning Show host Brian Edwards-Tiekert was not “reinstated” by Pacifica; he merely exercised his bumping rights per the CWA union contract, bumping someone, John Hamilton in this case, with less seniority and equivalent skill set. Edwards-Tiekert could have done this at any point after he was laid off over three months ago but waited until now. Why didn’t he hold out for what he wanted, reinstatement as Morning Show host? Because there was no way he would have won; the layoffs followed the seniority provisions of the union contract. (Mitch Jeserich, the only other host with less seniority, was deemed irreplaceable because of his “inside the Beltway” contacts and knowledge and since his program is carried by several Pacifica stations.) And why was BET given 3 months’ back pay? Because this was thousands of dollars less than it would have cost Pacifica to contest the issue, and Pacifica, like KPFA, is fighting for its financial life. So when “union activists at KPFA allege that Hamilton's layoff is retaliatory” they are simply propagandizing; again, Hamilton was not laid off but bumped by Brian Edwards-Tiekert. 

I would hope that audiences for the Planet and KPFA would approach communications from “SaveKPFA,” KPFA Worker (which represents only a portion of paid staff and does not speak for unpaid staff), and the on-air hosts associated with the Concerned Listener/”SaveKPFA” faction with a huge amount of skepticism. If the Planet chooses to run a front page "press release" from a faction that regularly propagandizes over KPFA’s air and calls it news, it should at least try, in the interest of fairness, to solicit an alternative point of view to run alongside it. 

Steve Gilmartin