Letters to the Editor (9/21)

September 21, 2009

Twin poles of GOP opposition could harm health care reform

To the editor:

Here are two quotes that tell you most of what you need to know about the twin poles of Republican opposition to health care reform.

"If you don't (stop Medicare) and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."

- Ronald Reagan, 1961

"If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

- U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, 2009

Reagan's statement reflects the genuine and pervasive mistrust of the role government plays in peoples' lives. This sentiment is something we all feel to some extent - we simply don't want a "big brother" overseeing all aspects of our lives.


Yes, it is undeniable that certain public goods are simply too important to be managed solely by the profit-driven private sector. National defense is one example. Medical care for the elderly - Medicare - is another example. And yes, medical care for our citizenry as a whole is another service that must be heavily regulated, if not managed, by our national government.

Reagan's 1961 remarks about stopping Medicare's creation with their emphasis on freedom and government intrusion have been repackaged in 2009 as Republicans paint a picture of America losing its freedom to an omnipotent government if health care reform succeeds. Yet today as in 1961, the Republican obsession over individual freedom has no basis in fact. Can you imagine if Reagan succeeded and our parents didn't receive medical care through Medicare? Could there be anything more ludicrous in 2009 than to believe we are "less free" because the elderly are allowed to age with government-sponsored medical care?

The second pole of Republican discontent, as evidenced by DeMint's quote, is purely political. It's obvious from DeMint's reference to Waterloo, Napoleon's epic defeat at the hands of the British, that DeMint is more concerned about inflicting political damage on President Obama than he is about assessing the merit of current health care proposals. He wants Republicans to win and Obama to lose. Period.

While Democrats have certainly been guilty of similar tactics in the past, we need to transcend partisanship on something as important as health care, Obama, to his credit, has been trying to forge consensus, yet the increasingly radicalized Republican base (recall that President Nixon once offered to implement universal health care) just wants to lay waste to the current administration.

It's been said that people get the government they deserve, a backhanded way of saying that it's ultimately the citizenry who are responsible for whether they live in tyranny, democracy or something in between.

Let's hope that in discerning the two poles of Republican health care opposition described above, Americans get the health care they deserve.

Drew Birnbaum

Schools took easy way out in not showing speech

To the editor:

Thumbs down to the Washington County School board for not setting a better example for our children concerning the president's recent national address.

If the Board of Education felt strongly one way or another about whether to show the address or not, they should have stated their case and been prepared to back it up. Instead, they claimed they were not given enough notice and there were logistical reasons why it could not be aired.

I feel that was a convenient way to dodge the difficulty of taking, what might have been, a controversial stand. Taking the easy way out is not the example I would choose for my children.

This country was once able to put men on the moon. If we are unable to figure out a way to get a TV broadcast to the classrooms in our schools, there are more serious issues the county should have addressed long before now.

Brad Webster

Today is the day to pray for peace

To the editor:

Today is the International Day of Prayer for Peace.

The idea of setting aside one day each year to remind people of the great need to pray for peace grew out of a meeting in 2004 between the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2004. It also coincides with the United Nations International Day of Peace.

The Day of Prayer is one of the initiatives of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence. An ever-expanding number of people worldwide, representing a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions, have committed to the task of working with other like-minded individuals and groups for a day of peace.

In Hagerstown, a prayer vigil and candlelight walk will be held today at 7 p.m. All those who seek peace in our community and the world are invited to join. They will gather at the Peace Poles in the parking lot of the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, at the corner of East Washington and Mulberry streets.

Sponsored by the Brethren Peace Fellowship and the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, the event will begin with prayers, a litany and songs of peace. This will be followed by a candlelight prayer walk circling the downtown, led by a bagpiper. At each cardinal direction (south, west, north, east), the walkers will stop to pray for peace, led by religious leaders of four different religious traditions in our community. The walk will culminate with a period of silent prayers for peace at the square in Hagerstown.

We invite you to participate in this International Day of Prayer for Peace. For more information, call the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren at 301-733-3565.

Ed Poling
Hagerstown Church of the Brethren

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