Republicans such as Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee will do everything in their power to sabotage any plan to help Detroit automakers ("Democrats, Bush in pact on bailout; GOP wary," yesterday). Instead, they want Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and not in deference to the American taxpayer or middle class.
Both Alabama and Tennessee are so-called "right-to-work" states that discourage unions, collective bargaining, and aspects of fairness and safety in the workplace. In terms of the auto industry, these states give foreign automakers advantages over U.S. firms. While, on the surface, this appears to favor the American consumer, it does the opposite, because the cheap labor it enables sets the bar lower for all middle-class workers. The Republicans' apparent agenda is to kill the United Auto Workers and topple Detroit, thereby beefing up the cheap-labor jobs in states such as Alabama. This will come at the expense of other jobs and businesses across the United States.
VA's health system
Saying that President-elect Barack Obama chose retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the agency "into the 21st century" could lead people to believe the VA's health-care arm, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), is outdated and ineffective. Although significant problems have occurred in some military hospitals, these facilities do not come under the VA.
Actually, the VHA manages the largest U.S. integrated health system, one that surpasses other American health systems on virtually all quality indicators. It could be said that while being named to head the VA, Shinseki also will oversee its "21st-century health-care system."
Center for Health Equity Research
Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Re: "Smoke and Mirrors: Green Club an EPA Charade," yesterday:
"Insanity," it has been said, "is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." That's what the EPA has been doing by continually accepting companies that pollute into its Performance Track program. Does the EPA really expect things to change after eight years of the same old, same old? Most businesses will voluntarily "go green" only if they see a profit in it. That's the nature of capitalism. Our taxes should not be spent to reward companies for promises to reduce emissions, but on compliance. The government needs to pass strong climate legislation that mandates emission reductions. Only then will we see truly greener business practices.
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We are a nation of laws. We belong to a world that is, in general, ruled by law and the law-abiding. Disappointing it is, then, to realize our country refuses to certify or recognize the International Criminal Court based in The Hague. If we did, perhaps President Bush would have to go there to answer charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Re: "Survey shows doctors less supportive of breast-feeding," Monday:
All physicians - particularly obstetrician-gynecologists, family physicians and pediatricians - owe it to their patients to promote and support breast-feeding. Enhanced physician education is needed, but it is only part of the solution. Public demand for breast-feeding should force physicians and hospitals to do the right thing. All hospitals should end marketing of formula by stopping the practice of giving formula bags to new mothers.
Esther K. Chung
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Re: "Helping Santa answer letters of hope and need," Saturday:
As a student at Chestnut Hill College, I worked at the 30th Street post office at Christmas in 1959 and 1960, answering the "Santa Mail." Mostly, we responded with form letters, but the few sad and obviously needy notes went to a supervisor. Every effort was made to discover the children's addresses. I still remember some of the letters - a few were quite specific, with item and page numbers from the Sears toy catalogue included, and some just as sad as the one in this story. I am happy this Christmas tradition continues.