Letters for January 24, 2008

Private is good

Re “Gated lives: a private future?” (SN&R Guest Comment, January 17):

As one who rents an apartment in a so-called “gated community,” I think this piece really misses the point. The writer seems to think that everyone wants to live in a fishbowl, constantly bumping into people they encounter randomly. He fails to recognize that some people simply want a place to live, without transients urinating on their front doors or people breaking into their cars. He fails to recognize that if a person wants to get to know their neighbor, they will.

Landowners and their customers, such as renters like me, should be allowed to keep people off their property and pay for services they don’t feel are adequately provided by local government. It’s all about freedom of choice and preserving the rights of private-property owners.

If the gate at my apartment keeps out people who don’t belong here, then it’s doing its job. If people feel excluded, like the author suggests they do, they can pay the rent and go through a background check like everyone else.

I wonder if the author locks his front door when he goes to bed at night. If so, then isn’t he excluding people, too?

M. Conens

Flash! Fraser’s great

Re “Flashman’s farewell” by Jim Lane (SN&R Words, January 17):

Thank you for Jim Lane’s tribute to George MacDonald Fraser. I hope this will move many readers to start with Tom Brown’s Schooldays and follow with Fraser’s books.

All are entertaining, generate laughing out loud, and are historically quite accurate. A fine writer is lost to us, but a great body of work is ours to enjoy.

Sharon Goodnight

Paul wants to stop the rip-off

Re “Party lines” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, January 10):

Your paper’s article regarding Ron Paul eliminating “popular” programs is false. He states that he wants to phase [Social Security] out for younger workers, but fulfill the government’s obligations to workers who are “in too deep” to try changing.

If the government had not spent every cent of our contributions as they came in and had invested it in simple interest-bearing accounts, there would be no issue with these programs. However, every administration and Congress has spent every dime every year. Payouts to recipients have been made from taxes collected as they come in. That’s why there is a crisis in these programs, as there is no trust fund—only IOUs from the government.

As a citizen, I feel I am being ripped off. I will get back so little for retirement, when I should have been able to invest the same amount and have a better retirement. If the government had been required to invest the contributed funds instead of spending it, we could have a good retirement system. Since they have proven that they cannot be trusted, I feel Paul’s answer is the best one.

It seems as if your paper likes to demonize Paul when he is the only candidate that is for real change. I urge readers to really look at his Web site (www.ronpaul2008.com) and where he is on the issues.

John Palys

Administrative cost haggling

Re “Come health or high prices” by Seth Sandronsky (SN&R News, January 10):

The claim in this article that private health-insurance plans use 30 percent of premiums for administrative costs is simply inaccurate. On average, health plans use about six cents out of every dollar for administration, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study on health-care costs.

Yes, health-care costs are rising, but what’s driving this increase is the skyrocketing cost of physician and hospital services, prescription drugs, regulations, chronic disease and medical errors. In fact, 86 cents of every dollar paid in health-insurance premiums go to doctors, hospitals, prescription drugs and outpatient care.

Medical costs are growing at two to three times the rate of inflation. In order to make health care affordable, we need to address the factors that are driving medical costs through the roof. The California Association of Health Plans aims to hold the line on medical bills, so more Californians can afford the care they need.

Christopher Ohman, President & CEO
California Association of Health Plans

Seth Sandronsky replies: The Núñez-Schwarzenegger health-care reform limits insurers to spending no more than 15 cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs. Such costs were 28 percent of California’s projected health expenditures in 2003, reported Drs. David Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler and Sidney Wolfe in the International Journal of Health Services.

¡Ask a Mormon Mexican!

Re “Mormon migra” by Gustavo Arellano (SN&R ¡Ask a Mexican!, January 10):

I feel compelled to reply to this column, for perchance a person might read it and think it was accurate.

I am inclined to think that the letter from the unnamed author is in reality a sensationalized piece put together by an editorialist who was a little slow for material and has a chip on his shoulder about “Mormons,” or perhaps it was put together by someone who visited our church long enough to pick up a copy of the Book of Mormon and to have someone who is anti-Mormon show him a few scriptures. Of course, there is always the possibility that it was actually written by an uninformed member of the LDS church—a possibility which absolutely boggles my mind.

I am not a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there are a few things I can say quite easily in response. Yes, we love the Mexican people; we love all of the world’s peoples. It is common knowledge to those who belong to the church that there are more members outside of the United States than in it. To think that (with the exception of a handful of places on this planet) a person would have to come to the United States to hear the gospel is absurd, because we are most everywhere. In fact, we have been in Mexico sharing the gospel since 1876!

While we would love for all people to hear the story of Joseph Smith being called as a prophet of God, to be baptized and to enjoy the blessings of the temple, to imply that the breaking of our country’s immigration laws is needed for that end is entirely unnecessary and wrong. Our doctrine teaches us to be law-abiding. Our church leaders have also long spoken on the need to maintain the sovereignty of our country. America is a choice land that has been set up by our God to be peopled by those whom he chooses to be here.

Yes, our Heavenly Father has covenanted this land to the peoples whom he leads here as indicated in the cited scriptures. It is a leap to say because of that covenant that he somehow condones the breaking of the laws of the land to come here, or that that is proof that our doctrine is for amnesty. To my knowledge, the church has never made an official statement regarding amnesty.

Next, calling us “Moroni worshippers” is an uninformed or intellectually dishonest thing to say. We don’t worship Moroni and have never made any such statement that we do. The reply also called us “Mexican-hating LDSers.” What in the world is that based on? I don’t get it. Tell that to the some 1,082,427 Mexican members of the church living in Mexico, or one of the hundreds of Spanish-language congregations in the United States! They would certainly be surprised to hear of it. Certainly even your letter from a spurious unnamed source tells a story of love and not hate.

One last side note: Mitt Romney is a politician and speaks for himself and not the church. The church does not support candidates. We are encouraged to be actively engaged in politics and are not told who and what to vote for. While [Romney] does attend the same church that I do, I do not support him for president. I support Ron Paul. I believe that Paul’s views are the closest to what the heaven-inspired founding fathers taught, what the prophets have taught and just good ol’ common sense.

Stephen Nix

Ass is a hit

Re “Passive Aggressive Notes” by Kel Munger (SN&R In the Mix, January 3):

I was the person who received the “passive aggressive note” on my doorstep back in 2006. When I stumbled across the Passive Aggressive Notes Web site, I knew I had to submit this incredible letter. The creator of the Web site, Kerry, liked it so much, she wants to put it in the Passive Aggressive Notes book when it comes out.

So I just want to say, “Thank you, ex-neighbor in Carmichael, for being a complete ass. Your letter is a big hit!”

Amber Tsuchida

Did the bodies give consent?

Re “Innard beauty” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R d’ART, December 6, 2007):

Like many newspapers, the SN&R publishes advertisements for and wrote about a human body exhibit (“Bodies Revealed”) that has come to Sacramento, but has not questioned the many ethical problems, including it being a Chinese attempt at profiting off copying Dr. Gunther von Hagen’s officially patented “Body Worlds” exhibits (the patented Body Worlds exhibit, “The Three Pound Gem,” is currently in San Jose).

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma has introduced A.B. 1519 to establish regulations about the display of human bodies. Ma mentioned in a hearing before our Assembly that a similar exhibit had been closed down in San Francisco, not just for offending many Chinese religious beliefs regarding handling of the remains of the deceased, but because the bodies themselves presented health hazards from rotting and leaking fluids as a result of “plasticization” procedures being done incorrectly. Further, the Chinese promoters of exhibits like this have been extremely evasive about where they got the bodies that have been flayed and dissected for its displays.

In the hearing, it was mentioned there are a lot more state and national regulations regarding the display of taxidermic animals than there are for the display of human remains, including those imported from China. The forgotten question here is if there was consent from the person before death, or from the person’s family, to have their remains displayed post-mortem for the sake of a corporation’s profits.

With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, it seems that questioning the Chinese government on anything, including issues of human rights and dignity, is to be totally forgotten about, simply for the sake of money and profits. Perhaps the Chinese government has even figured a way to make a profit in America from the bodies of those who were illegally executed against U.N. laws.

Michelle Kunert


There was an error in the answer key for “Take SN&R’s budget quiz!” (SN&R Editorial, January 17). The correct answer for question number (4) is: A-4; B-3; C-1; D-2. It has been corrected online.

In the article “Meet the Neighborhood Watch” (SN&R Arts&Culture, December 20, 2007), photographer Rebecca Knoblauch was mistakenly not credited for her shot of DJ Admant. It, too, has been corrected online.