Letters to the Editor - March 22, 2013
Insurance companies at fault
I hope everyone saw the article by Steve Brill in the March 4 Time Magazine. He asks a question, not about who pays for your health care, but “Why are health costs so high?”
He points out that most of the cost paid for health care goes to CEOs of insurance companies and the CEOs of corporations that manufacture medical devices. You can read this lengthy but compelling article online.
Last time I was at my doctor’s office, I asked to refill a prescription for a preventive drug I’ve been taking for nine years. My doctor showed me a letter written to him from my insurance company. In the letter, they asked my doctor to prescribe for me a less expensive drug, a drug with more potential side effects. I looked my doctor in the eye and said, “Tell them your patient refuses.” The letter also said, “Don’t tell the patient we sent you this.”
Isn’t this the definition of corruption?
Close damaging landfill
Over the years, I have made several comments to the DEQ regarding smell at Riverbend Landfill. It is a shame that the public’s comments do not get DEQ’s attention.
This landfill does nothing to enhance our quality of life in the Willamette Valley. It sits next to a river and, if the winds are right on a warm day, can be smelled from seven miles away in downtown McMinnville. If they caught a whiff, I wonder if Sunset magazine would list Mac as one of its “most livable cities.”
In addition, when Riverbend became a regional landfill in the ’90s, I noted as many as 60 trucks a day were coming from the north. I am an eyewitness, as I lived on Main Street in Carlton from 1990 to 2002.
To this day, these trucks continue to bypass the truck scales on Highway 99W between Dundee and Lafayette by cutting through on Highway 240 from Newberg and through the town of Carlton. This detour has caused much road damage. The garbage trucks come from as far away as British Columbia.
Trying to contain leaks, the landfill has a plastic liner that will eventually erode. I do not believe a plastic liner exists that could prevent a landslide of one million additional tons of garbage from sliding into the South Yamhill River, even with an engineer’s opinion on non-liquifiable soil types.
Landslides occur regularly on our roads. The pressure needed to stimulate one of the existing cells, not to mention an additional 40-foot berm, to shift and spill into the river would not allow an environmental do-over. It would be more forceful than a 16-pound sledgehammer used to obtain core samples.
Please do not allow any further expansion of Riverbend Landfill. Close it on schedule in 2014.
Don’t report home addresses
My wife and I were recently involved in a motor vehicle accident. A short description and picture were printed in the News-Register the following week. In the article it stated that we were life-flighted to OHSU. Also in the article was our complete address, including everything but the zip code.
Having stated that we were life-flighted to OHSU, it would be obvious that our house would be unattended for an unspecified amount of time. That might catch the attention of people who are interested in an easy target like that. When my wife returned home three days later, all was well with home and vehicles.
Our neighbors monitored everything very closely in our absence. Had we lived in a more rural setting or weren’t so close to our neighbors, it could have been a much different situation. From now on, it would be much more considerate to mention that the person or persons in the article reside in McMinnville rather than divulging their entire address.
Talk of militias now moot
David Terry (Readers’ Forum, March 8) wrote that both militia acts mandate that “members of the unorganized militia have the … right to bear arms for any potential military need.”
The Act of 1792 recognizes only one kind of militia, and the Act of 1903 simply regards all the men between 18 and 45 who might be called up as the “reserve.” In Presser vs. Illinois (1876), the Supreme Court outlawed private militias while it recognized that all citizens capable of bearing arms were the “reserved militia of the United States.” All talk of militias is now moot.
The Constitution, itself, authorizes Congress to provide for “organizing, arming, and disciplining” the militia, which is intended to “suppress insurrections and repel invasions” (Article I, Section 8). And in Article II, Section 2, it makes the president the commander in chief of the militias when they are called up for national service. The year after the Bill of Rights was adopted, the first Militia Act set about creating them. The Act of 1903 replaced the militia with the National Guard. None of this is fuzzy or difficult to understand.
Terry’s letter says that the thing the Founders “feared most was a ‘standing army’ … .” This is a gross oversimplification. In fact, The Federalist Papers support an army, and the Anti-Federalist Papers spend scant time on the issue, being more occupied with matters such as taxation. (It is worth noting that the Federalists are those who can truly be called ‘The Founders,” since Anti-Federalists opposed the adoption of the Constitution.)
The bogus claim that the Constitution (especially the Second Amendment) permits us to form militias to oppose government when we don’t agree with it is a staple of anti-government hate groups, including Neo-Nazis — a serious and growing threat.
Re-examine approach to pot
The same old, tired arguments fail to make themselves compelling. The recent pro/con in “Viewpoints” on legalizing marijuana was more of the same old rhetoric we have been hearing from both sides for years. The old liberal arts, small-business owner, non-using supporter vs. local law enforcement.
Proponents argue they have a right to be “left alone,” or “why should we treat marijuana any differently than alcohol?” And local law enforcement representatives, seldom the proponents, use arguments easily discounted were it not for their position within the community. If they were sitting in jeans and a T-shirt at the local coffee shop, would those arguments carry any weight?
The points made by the proponent, although more up-to-date and compelling than the sheriff’s comments, are lessened by the wink and nod typically associated with this debate when it comes to marijuana. The use of phrases like “war on pot” or “enterprising hippie dude” do as much damage in this debate as the opponents’ use of the worn-out rhetoric they have used for years. What comes out of these debates is a public less informed and more confused than before.
As Ms. Bradner notes, we have been caught up in this debate and policy for 40 years. It is a social justice issue. And when an issue such as the failed drug policy of the past 40 years impacts the lives of so many Oregonians, no matter what side of the debate people find themselves on, whether by choice or circumstance, and when past attempts to change the outcome have long since failed, it is time to re-examine our overall approach and try something different.
I suggest we give the other side 40 years and see what happens. I bet it takes only 10.
Douglas J. Heuer
Make marijuana adult choice
Kudos to the News-Register for featuring a pro/con debate on marijuana. Sadly, the argument against legalization contained logical flubs and common factual inaccuracies that deserve review.
It is true that marijuana use is associated with lower IQs and increased antisocial behavior, depression and dropout rates. Such associations seem damning. But association does not mean causation. The above social ills are also linked to living in subsidized housing or using public transportation. When studies looking at problems associated with marijuana are controlled for socioeconomic status, causation is much less apparent.
A better way to evaluate the danger of a substance is by lethality, where causation is easier to confirm. By this measure, marijuana is much safer than tobacco or alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that alcohol abuse kills about 75,000 Americans per year, and tobacco claims 443,000. Marijuana’s lethality is so low the CDC does not even track it.
Critics of legalized marijuana too often equate decriminalization with approbation. Many bad behaviors — adultery, lying, sloth, cigarette smoking — are not and should not be illegal. But this does not mean society should approve. The best way to deal with pervasive bad behaviors is through education. So let it be with marijuana.
As a physician, I have seen the ill effects of marijuana. I’ve never tried the stuff. Seeing its effects, I am not tempted. But I live in a world of reality. Marijuana is here, and it is common. Illegality leads to criminal enterprises and family-destroying incarceration. It saps resources best devoted to more dangerous activities. There are four million marijuana users in the United States. Do we seriously want to jail them all?
Marijuana ain’t granola. It’s addictive and mind altering. But it should be an adult choice. Time to face the world as it is.
Scott Gibson, M.D.