U.S. ranking for infant mortality is shocking
To the editor:
Did you find the latest infant mortality rankings shocking? I did. The United States ranked 37th with 6.37 deaths per 1,000 live births. We ranked below bankrupt Greece, impoverished Cuba, and Andorra. For a pediatrician with more than 40 years of experience fighting the diseases of infancy and childhood, that's downright humiliating. In 1960, the U.S. ranked 12th; in 2005, 30th; and in 2009, 34th.
Infant mortality is calculated by death in the first year of life per 1,000 live births. Gestation must be 22 weeks and weighed above 500 grams (17.6 ounces). Singapore, Sweden, Japan, and Hong Kong topped the list. All scored rates below 3.0. Even Canada, with its much-maligned health care system, beat us. We are the richest nation on earth. Why can't we rank better than 37th?
In my opinion, three factors influence the United States' underachievement. (First, let me explain that more preventable deaths are related to complications of prematurity than to birth defects or communicable illness.)
No. 1. Physical: Pregnancy, labor and delivery place rigorous physical demands on a woman. She should be fit and healthy before undertaking this nine-month marathon. Excellent diet, regular low-impact exercise, sufficient sleep and extravagant health care preserve pregnancies by reducing obstetric complications.
No. 2. Emotional: Young women and teens become pregnant long before they are mature enough to care for themselves, let alone an infant. Many have mental health issues or substance abuse problems. Unplanned pregnancies of young females result in an increased number of complicated preemies.
Number 3. Systemic: The countries ranked ahead of us have simpler, more-affordable and more-accessible health care. All young women enjoy this benefit from birth and enter childbearing years better prepared than Americans. We won't catch Cuba or Canada until we have a universal health care system.
Dr. M. Douglas Becker
Those blessed to live in America must fight for the country
To the editor:
Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. I can only think that two recent letters to the editor were jokes — placed there by union organizers because no one could possibly believe the contents of those two letters.
President Obama has systematically brought down America for the last 2 1/2 years. We are not trying to underfund schools. We are broke. What don't you understand about broke? We can no longer give lavish lifestyles and well-funded retirements to educators while most everyone else is out of a job or on a fixed income.
You talk about having no manufacturing, no skilled labor, no middle class. You think America is not just about there, thanks to progressives running this country for the last 50 years. NAFTA signed by Clinton, a Democrat, sent all this overseas for cheap labor. That's what the unions did to us. Union bosses habitually raised laborers' pay to the point that businesses could no longer afford to hire, and thus you have what you see. Everyone out of work.
Imagine a place where there is a permanent underclass of uneducated, politically vulnerable outsiders toiling relentlessly for the benefit of a few powerful families. Sir, this is called socialism. Do you not see what the progressives are trying to do? Wake up.
The spokesperson for Standard and Poor's said, not in these exact words but close, that if the Obama administration had signed Cut, Cap and Balance or a Balanced Budget Amendment that the tea party wanted or showed some semblence that they would balance the budget (which they did not), then the downgrade would not have happened.
America is unique and a great country. Those of us who have been blessed to live in America know what we are fighting for. We must fight for America.
I do not think The Herald-Mail will publish this letter. It is written by a Republican who is proud to be a Christian and a tea partier. I will do my utmost to save America.
Special session agenda should not include new taxes
To the editor:
In October, the Maryland General Assembly will meet in a special session to perform its constitutional duty to reapportion the state for congressional districts. The reapportionment is necessary so congressional districts reflect the new population data from the 2010 Census. During the special session, it is important the state legislature not waver from its task to approve a reapportionment plan. The Maryland legislature should not consider any new taxes or major policy initiatives.
During the past several legislative sessions, the General Assembly has put in place a conservative spending plan that recognizes the tough fiscal times the state faces by supporting the state's education and transportation system. The Maryland legislature needs to continue to hold the line on taxes so our working families will have enough funds necessary to maintain a household. Our businesses need to hold on to their money as they continue to recover from the long-term national recession.
Through these tough economic conditions, the state's sound fiscal policy continues to maintain a AAA bond rating — one of only eight states that has this rating in 2011. The AAA rating results in the state saving millions of dollars in reduced interest rates for capital projects like public school construction and road construction.
In addition, the Maryland legislature addressed the structural deficit and pension reform during the 2011 legislative session. The structural deficit was reduced by 46 percent and is on target to be completely eliminated within the next two years. Also, the Maryland legislature this year cut more than 650 vacant positions in state service which saved the state $27 million. Because of the State Rainy Day Fund (5 percent of the budget, or $642 million), the $123 million cash balance this year and the $400 million revenue increases, our state enjoys more than $1 billion in cash reserves.
The Maryland legislature has an obligation to meet for reapportionment but expanding the agenda to include new taxes and policy initiatives should not be considered.
Del. Galen Clagett, District 3A
Chairman, Public Safety and Administration Subcommittee
Clean, renewable energy plan should be supported
To the editor:
I am writing in response to recent letters to the editor by waste-to-energy opponents.
I attended one of the recent meetings on the regional waste-to-energy facility planned for Frederick County, and I have also paid close attention to the media coverage over the past few years. I couldn't disagree more with what the opponents have been saying.
I am confident that our county's long-term plan for waste reduction, aggressive recycling and state-of-the-art waste-to-energy technology is the most environmentally sound, dependable and lowest cost solution to our trash problem.
This project has been extensively studied and evaluated in an open forum for more than six years by two county boards. In my 39 years of living in Frederick County, I can't think of any other public project that has been reviewed as thoroughly — and been so strongly endorsed by the voters through our 2010 election.
Waste-to-energy facilities successfully serve hundreds of communities across Maryland, the United States and the world. Every time I go to an Orioles or a Ravens game, I am reminded of how Baltimore's waste-to-energy facility safely co-exists within a neighborhood adjacent to the city's major sports stadiums.
The recent meeting that I attended with other supporters of the project demonstrated to me how our county's facility will comply with stringent state and federal environmental requirements while producing more than 45 megawatts of renewable energy for our county, enough to power 45,000 homes. Additionally, instead of hauling our trash to out-of-state landfills at a time of volatile fuel prices, our county will save an estimated $400 million over 30 years, create hundreds of local jobs and generate $260 million in economic stimulus.
Moving forward at the McKinney Industrial Park also makes it possible for the facility to use treated effluent from the adjacent treatment plant as its process water, reducing the need for potable water. Sewage sludge may also be treated at this location, reducing land spreading and the contribution of nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay.
I appreciate the information being offered by project officials. I support clean, renewable energy in this county and I urge others to do the same. It's time to build it.