I was born and raised in Defiance, Ohio. My childhood taught me several things: Don't have a picnic downwind of the cattle pasture, money is always tight so don't abuse your toys, and if you want something, and really believe in it, you're going to have to fight for it.
My father often echoed words similar to Theodore Roosevelt's when he said, "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
I've lived in Alaska since 1998. Professionally, I am a biologist, but I have also ventured into politics. I have studied brown bears, marine mammals, and many species of birds throughout our vast state.
The wildlife species roam great distances during their seasonal migrations. The birds that visit our feeders one day may be clear across the state in a week's time, and the natural landscape is still functioning and biologically intact.
It disturbs me that a short-sighted, self-serving oil industry agenda has the financial backing and political clout to plunge in and permanently alter the landscape of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For what? Oil?
It disturbs me that the industry cannot muster enough foresight to, first, take fiscally responsible measures to reduce our dependence on oil and gas resources and support alternative technology, raise CAFE standards for light weight trucks, or to develop existing oil and gas leases that are spider-webbed across the nation.
Alaska's senators and congressman do not represent many Alaskans when they advocate opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is alarming that Alaskans have to fight our own government to save our most treasured natural resource - the environment.
Once solvent and able to adequately support our retirees, Social Security has become a program in dire need of reform. As a concerned 23-year-old, I am part of a generation of Americans whose retirement benefits are not guaranteed if we remain on our current, tumultuous path.
In 1950, 16 workers paid for one retiree's benefits. Today that number has dwindled to three for every one. The program will go bankrupt by 2042. Reform is necessary for the program to remain solvent and able to support my own and future generations' retirement needs.
President Bush's plan offers the necessary reform. Younger workers, such as myself, will be allowed to place some of their own payroll taxes in voluntary personal retirement accounts - a nest egg we can call our own, the government cannot take away, and we can pass on to our children.
Let me assuage the fears of those 55 and older who are concerned that the President's plan will cut into their benefits. No changes will be made to your benefits. Additionally, the President's plan will not increase payroll taxes.
We cannot afford to wait to act. The future of Social Security is grim and it is our job to urge Congress to enact the President's legislation.
The way prices are skyrocketing a person could wonder whether our country is headed for another depression. I certainly hope not. I was in the last depression and that was enough.
I recently bought gas for the car. It's a four cylinder and it cost us $23 to fill it up. I only let it get down to about a quarter of a tank. It will last us for about one week, and that is just driving around the center of Toledo. We cannot afford to go on a vacation. Just on gasoline for the car we spend about $1,080 a year. Just like everyone else, we have rent, food, medical, and everyday expenses. We are senior citizens and are unable to work because of health problems.
The government is trying to cut the Social Security benefits that we worked for all of our lives. And because I worked for the school system, the government is cutting them about 20 percent. What are we to do?
Between my wife and I we average about $1,400 a month. It is very hard to live.
The people elect our politicians to go to Washington to represent us. But I think Big Business is running our country instead of the people.
Our representatives and senators in Washington should help the people, not big business.
EARL R. HUFFORD
The coincidental appearance of stories about concierge medicine and the firing of the Toledo Zoo's head veterinarian seem superficially unrelated, but in my eyes they are symptomatic about what's wrong with health care today.
As a family physician, I've thought about turning my back on third-party payers and offering my services on retainer, but, although it might make me feel better, it would also mean turning my back on my patients with limited resources.
As a recent editorial proclaimed, the Toledo Zoo is one of northwest Ohio's jewels. It certainly is one of the amenities I talk up when I'm recruiting students and residents to the Medical College of Ohio.
It is sad to read about the current controversy surrounding the firing of Dr. Tim Reichard. I don't know Dr. Reichard and only have your account to judge his abilities as a veterinarian, but apparently even his critics admit that he is a skilled and devoted practitioner.
As I read the stories, the oppressive and distant bureaucracy described at the zoo uncomfortably reminded me of the similar situation facing physicians and their human patients.
When third parties (in my case insurance companies and managed health care) interpose themselves between patients and their physicians, care suffers. Their job is to make sure that physicians have the resources to care for their patients. For the sake of animals and humans, they must get out of our way and let us do our job.
Allan J. Wilke, MD
As a professional who works with at-risk youth, I find we are focusing too much on proficiency tests instead of illiteracy. Illiteracy is a major problem facing youth today.
Too many youths have dropped out of school and are hesitant to return knowing that they cannot read and write at their grade levels. To make matters worse, they are now required to pass proficiency tests implemented in our schools. Illiteracy is a major factor among juvenile delinquents.
We need to come up with a solution to get youth back into the classrooms and getting an education, as most of us did growing up.
Let's have a rally for basic education, and include the churches and volunteers as we do during proficiency test time.
We will not only be helping these youths, we will be helping the community by decreasing crime rates.
The unions' criticism of hospitals for increased charges to under-insured patients is not entirely fair. Being uninsured or under-insured does not necessarily mean that a person is destitute or unable to afford medical insurance. In fact, I am quite sure there are people who chose not to make medical insurance a priority in their budgets though, perhaps with even just a little effort, they may well be able to do so.
If such a person should need hospital care, why should not the hospital providing the care be allowed to determine how much of a financial break they are willing to extend to this person, based on considerations that they feel appropriate?
How many convicted felons have the audacity and resources to petition the courts to allow them to serve their time in a posh suburban home rather than in a jail? Deposed movers and shakers continue to expect special treatment based on their privileged executive past.