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Published: 8/8/2004

Death penalty a pre-emptive measure?

I find it amusing that supporters of President Bush have labeled themselves "pro-life" when in fact they are anything but. Not only do they defend the President's decision to go to war, but they're also largely in support of his stance on the death penalty. Isn't this a contradiction?

Of course, they claim the distinction between their beliefs on abortion and their pro-death stances on other issues is that abortion affects innocent "life."

Yet Mr. Bush's war on Iraq has claimed thousands of innocents, and all in the name of pre-emptive action. Well, if that's what Republicans stand for, then they ought to think of abortion as a pre-emptive version of the death penalty.

After all, those most likely to have an abortion are indigent, minority women (not exactly a strong voting bloc for the President's re-election bid).

So are we to assume that because these children would be born into poverty that they would turn to a life of crime the same way we assumed that had Iraqis obtained weapons of mass destruction that they would?

DANIEL McINNIS

Elmhurst Road

An Aug. 4 editorial, "Compensate black farmers," questioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture's implementation of the Pigford Consent Decree. Unfortunately, The Blade relied upon mistakes, misrepresentations, and myths.

In l997, a group of African-American farmers filed a class action lawsuit against USDA, alleging discrimination in the farm loan and benefit programs.

The case was settled in 1999 with a consent decree, which established a process for individual claims for relief to be decided by neutral entities appointed by the court.

Class membership was open to African-American farmers who met three specific criteria:

  • They farmed or attempted to farm between Jan. 1, l981, and Dec. 31, 1996.

  • They applied to the USDA during that time to participate in a federal farm credit or benefit program, and believed that in USDA's response to that application they were discriminated against on the basis of race.

  • They filed a discrimination complaint between Jan. 1, 1981, and July 1, 1997, regarding USDA's treatment of their application.

    It is incorrect that USDA "denied restitution" to some 80,000 African-American farmers.

    The consent decree does not provide "restitution," nor does USDA decide who participates or receives relief.

    Some claimants did not meet the filing deadline or the court found their claims without merit.

    Likewise, it is untrue that USDA is "withholding" $2.3 billion in money due to African-American farmers.

    The government never "promised" to pay an "automatic" payment of $50,000 to every African-American farmer. Rather, it established a process through which neutral third parties determined the merits of the farmers' claims.

    Under the settlement, more than $650 million has been paid to 13,196 claimants, and nearly $20 million in debts forgiven.

    USDA is committed to serving all of America's farmers and ranchers, regardless of their race, sex, or any other basis and we uphold this commitment in the daily operations of the Farm Service Agency's programs and services.

    VERNON B. PARKER

    Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

    U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Where's the justice in this world? Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden still walk the earth and my dear friends are preparing to bury their 16-year-old son.

    Jeff Hegarty was one heckuva kid. He just lost his seven-year battle with cancer.

    I'm a 46 year old who hopes, one day, to have just a portion of the grace and courage that Jeff displayed in his all-too-short life.

    Visiting him just a few days before his death, he was more concerned with how I was doing than with his own pain.

    Jeff and his mom and step-dad have been a part of my life through our involvement in the Oregon Community Theatre.

    Jeff was the most important member of our technical team, the lighting guy. If he didn't turn on the lights, there would be no show.

    During our production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, Jeff stepped in and played the role of "Hero." How apt. Jeff will always be my hero.

    I hope the memory of many good times will comfort Jeff's parents in this terrible time. You just aren't supposed to bury your children. We can all be comforted that Jeff has finally been released from his pain and is with God. We'll all see him again soon.

    I hope he doesn't forget to leave the lights on for us.

    DON DAUER

    Southdale Road

    A July 25 letter stated that "one estimate places the cost of Canada's single-payer system at 21 cents for every dollar Canadians earn." I would like to know the source of this one estimate.

    According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Census Bureau, total personal expenditure on medical care and health services in Canada for the year 2003 was $36 billion, compared with total personal expenditures on consumer goods and services totaling $688 billion.

    The percentage of all personal expenditure on medical care and health services was 5.2 percent in 2003, and was 5 percent or less for each of the previous four years in Canada.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2001 U.S. consumers spent $1.1 trillion on health care out of a total consumer expenditure of $6.4 trillion.

    Thus, U.S. consumers spent 17.1 percent of their total consumption expenditures on health care in 2001.

    In fact, U.S. consumers spent more money on health care in 2001 than on food, tobacco, and gasoline combined.

    Therein lies the real story - a U.S. health care system that costs three times as great a portion of our consumption expenditures as the Canadian single-payer system.

    BRIAN DUNNE

    Riva Ridge Road

    If I would ask who was the most prolific killer of the 20th century many would say Bundy, Dahmer, or Gacy. Few however would guess correctly the Food and Drug Administration. It's time we pull the switch on this killer. I'll explain why.

    With the approval of just one drug, the FDA said it would save more than 80,000 lives per year.

    What it didn't say is that the redundant testing and bureaucratic paper shuffling took almost 15 years for approval.

    That means more than a million people lost their lives waiting for approval. That's just one drug!

    There are those who would say old Jimbo's flipped out. Who would protect us from unsafe drugs? The answer of course is the best protector of all for consumers, the free market. Here is why.

    The most valuable asset of a pharmaceutical company is its reputation. Pharmaceutical companies also know that under every rock is an attorney who is looking for a deep pocket. They're not going to schlep drugs into the market compromising safety.

    Also, the free market would quickly give us any number of consumer reports on drugs, the efficacy of which would be sorted out by the medical community.

    The Cato Institute tells us that 85 percent of the cost of a drug is getting it through the FDA.

    With the huge costs removed it would make finding cures for rarer diseases possible and by telling Marcy Kaptur and company to give us back the billions they waste keeping the FDA alive, drugs would quickly become affordable again.

    When it comes to health care, government is the problem not the solution.

    The solution for our health-care problems is first do no harm by getting government out of the equation.

    JIM BOEHM

    Drummond Road

    Let's help President Bush realize his dream of following in his father's footsteps and make him a one-term president - just like his daddy.

    KENT COUSINO

    Fayette, Ohio



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