Printed Letters: September 7, 2016

We need to address causes of homelessness

Your recent front-page article on the homeless – “transients” you called them – haunts me. Surely I am not alone among baby boomers who remember the “sudden” phenomenon of homelessness in the wake of the Vietnam War.

As my own children grew up, I was aware of this “problem” growing alongside. As a teacher, over the course of three decades I watched the numbers of homeless children increase at an appalling rate.

The problem of transients is not a transient problem. It is like a malignant growth that increases in size until we cannot pretend it will go away. When will we be able to look at this terrible social illness honestly and begin to address the causes and not just the symptoms? If society were a family, wouldn’t we be throwing all of our money at this problem, along with our careful attention and compassion? It seems we are still under the influence of the English Poor Law, first established centuries ago to serve monarchs, but alive and well today in our thinking. It says, basically, that vagrancy (joblessness, homelessness) is a criminal state caused by the condition of being poor and, therefore, of lesser worth as a human being. The homeless are an inferior social group. Charity should be only enough to help the unfortunates subsist, but never enough to eradicate the problem entirely. Thus we ensure that homelessness will continue.

As Jonathan Kozol, the great educator and writer and tireless advocate for homeless children might say, if society were a family, the growing numbers of homeless children would be the worst case of neglect that ever was. If society were a human body, wouldn’t we be aggressively seeking a cure, regardless of cost?

KATE ELLIS-WOODRUFF
Grand Junction

Men and women risk lives to defend what flag symbolizes

Reading the Friday morning Sports and Rec section story titled “Kaepernick, 49ers teammate kneel during anthem” I was struck by the picture showing a Marine PFC with two rows of ribbons (cropped) standing at attention during the singing of the national anthem. This Marine and the sailors with him have taken an oath to defend the Constitution at all costs, including their lives, to fight to the death if necessary.

I couldn’t help but wonder how their lives, supported by a pittance and paid by the country they have dedicated themselves to defend, compare with the compensation paid to these pampered athletes who, without any sacrifice on their part, enjoy the benefits of America’s flag and anthem.

If they feel their lives would be better elsewhere, we might recommend the Canadian Football League and any other country or organization in the world, where their assets, if not their lives, would be worth so much more.

This country, with its flag and national anthem, America’s fight song, are easy targets for every twit with an ax to grind because it encourages freedom of expression and choice, tolerance and equality. They have inspired many men and women to face extreme danger and witness many lives lost, including their own, in the defense of what these symbols say and stand for.

ROBERT A. TALLARICO
Grand Junction

It’s time to eliminate for-profit health insurance companies

Big, for-profit insurance carriers bailing out of the Affordable Care Act was something many of us anticipated. It seemed obvious that these corporations would not be able to provide coverage to big numbers of unhealthy consumers and still maintain profits, shareholder dividends, sales commissions, advertising, company jets, executive bonuses etc.

Young healthy consumers not having major financial penalties for not buying into to the insurance company system prevented reasonable risk pools for these companies, also. Risk pooling is the whole crux of providing health care in the U.S. The “old” insurance system enabled insurance companies to use underwriting to obtain the healthiest pool possible for themselves. People with major health problems were taken care of by taxpayer-supported Medicaid or left uninsured – but went to hospitals anyway when their conditions became calamities. Since they couldn’t pay for their care, hospitals had to charge insurance and direct paying customers more to recoup financial losses. So consumers paid directly and indirectly supporting this lousy system. Many uninsured citizens also just died from this arrangement — 52,000 annually per analysts’ estimations.

Americans need to decide if it is important for insurance companies to maintain a parasitic role in health care. Also, are we going to allow “cherry-picking” competition for risk pools so that insurance companies can reap their selfish financial benefits and the rest of us pay dearly, including some paying with their lives? If not, then it is time to create one risk pool via single-payer (i.e. Medicare for All, Colorado Care etc.) systems. The huge savings from eliminating for-profit insurance companies would show that we are abandoning Darwinist health care and that we are compassionate and united with our fellow Americans.

JOEL PRUDHOMME
Grand Junction


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