Inbox — March 3, 2010

Letters to the Editor

Broader Views

I find it fascinating that the six individuals who wrote the Guest Commentary (LEO Weekly, Feb. 17) are so obviously one-sided when it comes to Israel’s incursion into Gaza. I, too, was not happy with the Goldstone Report. Apparently there were things that happened in Gaza that were very wrong, but I doubt these people have taken Arab countries as well as Iran and Afghanistan to task when they have oppressed women and cultural minorities in their countries. They demand boycotts, divestment and sanction movements against Israel while not dealing with the oppressive regimes of the Middle East and Africa. Did they write something in LEO that I missed about the situation in Iran? Perhaps I was out of town when they demanded boycotts against Iran for the execution of students who took part in recent demonstrations, or the victims of “honor killings” in Jordan, or the caning of women in Muslim West Africa for “sexual crimes.” Have they called for sanctions against China for their support of the Sudanese government and their genocide in Darfur? I doubt it.

The mark of a democracy is the ability to publicize wrongdoing and make corrections. Israel is hardly perfect, but it is currently the only democracy in the Middle East. I chafe at Israel’s problems, but the fact that they attempt to deal with their issues makes me optimistic that enough people in Israel are on the right track. The Palestinian people have never been treated particularly well in Arab countries, and their political situation has been exploited by much of that world — as well as parts of Europe — to denigrate Israel. Why does this continue? Possibly because it is so easy to damn Israel. It is a lonely outpost — a tiny country surrounded by countries that still, after all these years, want to drive them into the sea. To quote the Guest Commentary: All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Deb Aubespin, Highlands

Give Gifts

To all the artists and retailers besieged for donations to charity auctions — I owned a high-end craft store in Rhode Island and now live in Louisville. The problem is common all over. I am also a professional auctioneer who does all his charity auctions pro bono. My suggestion to all: If you donate an item to the auction, there is no chance of getting the buyer into your studio or store. If you give a gift certificate for, say, $100, that is out of pocket. My suggestion, and it worked great in my store — donate a gift certificate offering a 50-percent discount in your store. That way you recoup your cost, help the charity and have a chance of making a new customer relationship.

Ted Loebenberg, Highlands

Attooned to Doppelganger

What happened to the “Doppelganger” comic? Brian Orms used to write and draw a pretty funny comic with distinct characters and appealing artwork; it was one of the highlights of the paper. These days, it seems to be little more than aimless writing and lazy artwork. Seriously, some weeks it’s literally six copies of the same panel — it makes me wonder if Orms even draws the comic anymore.

It’s disappointing to see this exercise in mediocre cartooning each week, knowing there are dozens of talented cartoonists in this city who no doubt would love to have the kind of exposure Orms is taking for granted.

Justin Toon, Germantown

Let Me Be

The Inbox writer in the Feb. 3 LEO Weekly appears to have badly misinterpreted Louis D. Brandeis’ concept of the right to privacy. Sure enough, Brandeis believed we ought “to be let alone” to be ourselves and make our own choices in life. As he once explained it, “Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.” We might choose to be hermits, as the letter writer suggests. But, bear in mind that even hermits have some civic responsibilities.

Brandeis surely would not let us cheat on our debts to democracy. “Only through participation by the many in the responsibilities and determinations of business can Americans secure the moral and intellectual development, which is essential to the maintenance of liberty.” So it appears that Brandeis’ views on civic responsibility are essential to our ongoing debate on health care today. His views on privacy are peripheral.

Tom Louderback, Highlands

Final Response

I would like to begin by apologizing to Jason Hill for my typo that had his first name as James. In response to his first question (LEO Weekly, Feb. 10), my belief that health care is not a right does not constitute a defense of any system, much less one that compels anyone to do anything. I am not a fan of social duty. And I’ll stand by my assertion that the summation of our rights is “to be let alone.” Therefore, compulsion can have no part of any right.

To Hill’s second question, I say that neither fire nor police protection is a right. Again, if no one signs up to be a firefighter or a police officer, those services cannot exist, and I can have no right to them. One may as well say that I have a right to moon rocks.

I would prefer to have police and fire protection and am happy to pay for them. However, I would note as someone who grew up in a town with a volunteer, non-tax supported fire department, these services do not need to be supplied by government.

I would also note that police protection, however it is obtained, is but the collective manifestation of our individual right to self-defense, which in turn is part of our right to be let alone.

Thirdly, Hill asks what mechanisms we have to protect us from “insidious” corporate power. I would argue that corporate power is at its worst when it is in a league with government power. Government itself is a form of business, isn’t it? It has revenues from taxation and profits from power. As a renderer of services, government is notoriously inept. Why does Hill trust government?

In regard to health insurance in particular, state and federal governments have done many things to make it more expensive, including asinine mandates and the creation of in-state oligopolies. Government action is part of the problem. How can we look to government to fix problems it has created?

Finally, Hill believes his liberties have been taken away from him by the “compulsions of law, commerce and convention.” I would ask him, how does creating a right to health care get back any of his stolen liberties?

Rich Mills, Shawnee

No Change for the Weary

If America’s citizens let Republicans regain their recent, short-lived control of all three branches of government, democracy as we have known it will continue to be broken for a long time. By desiring to cut, or even do away with Medicare, the GOP shows its “survival of the fittest” philosophy. It is a philosophy that’s not morally or spiritually sound and is keeping us from getting needed health care reform.

With fiery passion, right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh tells his audience daily that President Obama is destroying our country. Even before Social Security and Medicare became law, the Republican Party opposed both programs and would kill them today if they could. Greed and selfishness are the motivators for doing away with them. That is what’s destroying America.

No matter who is president — Democrat, Republican, Independent — or what party controls Congress, Washington, D.C., is never going to change as long as big, special-interest money determines how we do politics and our economic system runs on greed.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr., St. Matthews