Letters for March 18, 2010

A good man, indeed

Re “A man with many plans” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, March 11):

I’m not surprised that Bob Speer would feature Rolly Berger in his column. Bob is wise enough to know that few come along like Rolly.

A genuinely adult, competent, creative, energetic, accomplishing and completely generous, gracious, kind and humane person, Rolly was, indeed, always looking to make people’s lives better—individually and in the aggregate of communities.

In other words, Rolly was one of the few top-to-bottom, front-to-back, side-to-side, through-and-through total human beings I’ve ever met.

Abe Baily

Circumcision isn’t justified

Re “The controversial cut” (Newslines, by Stacey Kennelly, March 11):

Don’t underestimate the circumcision industry to try to keep their woeful cutting business alive. They’re trying to hammer on STDs and HIV/AIDs, but when that’s been debunked, look for them to come up with the next pretext de jour to keep their money-grubbin’ foreskins foray going among misinformed and ignorant parents.

Our parenting instincts told us in 1975 that it was unthinkable to cut off live, healthy flesh from our beautiful newborn son. Our children have spared their sons from this nasty indignity, too. The cycle can be broken. If some jerk today came up with the idea of cutting foreskins, he’d be quickly hauled off to jail for the intent of committing sexual assault on the helpless.

Babies have rights to wholeness.

Lawn Griffiths
Tempe, Ariz.

All of the justifications for infant circumcision are specious and false. Prevention of infections is often given, but bacteria, viruses and fungals (yeasts) cannot discern or discriminate between male and female cells. This means the infections boys get are the exact same infections females get. Females are always treated successfully without surgery, and there is no reason males cannot also be successfully treated.

The “locker room” argument is also given, implying boys who are not circumcised will face ridicule. That may have been the case years ago, but with a 50-percent circumcision rate (and lower in some areas), that argument will no longer hold water, as some of the most popular boys will be whole and unaltered.

The “look like Daddy” justification holds no water either. The implication is that the child will suffer severe psychological problems if he discovers Dad has a penis different from his. If this is truly a concern, Dad should just keep his pants on.

Every year more than 200 newborns die as a result of their circumcisions, but there is no record of an infant or child ever passing because of his foreskin still being in place. Doctors have claimed the procedure is painless, but that is a lie. A 1999 AMA study to evaluate the pain found the procedure is always painful even with analgesia/anesthesia.

A 1998 survey of physicians found that only 23 percent of newborns received anything for the pain; the survey was conducted again in 2006 and found the percentage had dropped to 16 percent.

A busy OB/GYN can make more than $100,000 per year from this procedure alone. It’s no wonder they cling to it so desperately! It’s time for the insanity and abuse to end.

Frank O’Hara

Letter writer apologizes

Re “The best teacher ever” (Letters, by Pam Willis, March 11):

I want to apologize to Rick Rees and his family because, during a conversation with him, he told me the school board did not want to name the [new performing-arts] building after Jackie Faris-Rees [as I wrote in my letter]. They had not voted yet.

I would also like to thank the committee for the Hall of Fame dinner. They did an outstanding job honoring Jan [Doney] and many other inductees.

What would Jan do? I agree with the editor. I don’t think she would care whether the building was named after her! Those of us who knew Jan won’t let her memory die. She was the best.

Pam Willis

Another dirty secret: ‘mixing zones’

Re “Dirty secrets of farmed salmon” (GreenWays, by Alistair Bland, March 4):

You mght want to check another factor in this debate. Alaska relaxed the Clean Water Act rules under Governor Murkowski allowing “mixing zones” (areas of contamination above the acute criteria, LD50, around the end of discharge pipes).

Some allowed mixing zones are miles across. These are allowed in stretches of streams where salmon spawn and rear. Every year since, the Alaska Leglislature has tried to pass a bill keeping mixing zones out of spawning areas. The most recent is HB 46. It is destined to fail under pressure from mining companies.

So before you tout the benefits of wild Alaskan salmon, you should know that their spawning and rearing grounds may be dumping grounds for industrial and mining wastes. Check out recent articles in the Anchorage Daily News and Juneau Empire.

Arnold Mertz
Juneau, Alaska

Health-care Q&A

I would highly recommend reading T.R. Reid’s book, The Healing of America, to understand what other Western countries are doing with their health-care systems.

Why does our system cost more than twice as much as Canada’s, France’s, Germany’s, Switzerland’s, etc.? Why do their people live as long or longer than we do and have fewer health-care problems? Why is our death rate among children higher than in other Western nations?

We have a system in America where lawyers specialize in suing doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies, and we have lawyers who specialized in defending them. It’s a cottage industry supported by the consumers.

Why do our doctors earn more than twice the salaries of their counterparts in other Western countries? Why are pharmaceutical companies able to earn such huge dividends for their shareholders, as compared to drug companies in other Western countries?

Why do tens of thousands of Americans go broke every year because of medical costs, something that doesn’t happen in other Western countries?

Answer: Too many people and companies make a financial killing at our expense. The very same groups fighting health-care reform now are the same ones who have been successfully opposing any such reforms since 1947.

George Thatcher

Where are the bike racks?

Isn’t it strange that there is no bike rack at the Bidwell Mansion Visitors Center? And the new Gateway Science Museum next door has such a puny bike rack that only three or four bikes fit? What gives?

Mark Lance

Who are the sick ones here?

Because the state of California has slashed mental-health funding to the bone, available services are stressed to the max. When services are reduced, jail and prison populations rise. Today about 25 percent of inmates have a serious untreated mental illness.

Prison beds cost the taxpayers about $50,000 each annually. There are about 165,000 inmates. Do the math.

Treatment costs about 70 percent less than prison beds. Yet, our politicians routinely vote against increasing the mental-health budget. Go figure…

Larry Phipps