Regarding the May 25 article "Moving healthcare up on US agenda": National healthcare must become a national priority. Employee-sponsored healthcare plus Medicare and Medicaid will never serve the entire nation because some people work part-time or are unemployed.
We need a national healthcare plan funded by a national payroll tax.
I would be happy to pay this tax knowing that all of the employees at the company that I run would have health insurance.
Healthcare funded by a national payroll tax is the only system that addresses everyone.
The May 9 article "Blair's reelection: Pyrrhic victory?" refers to a possible future partnership between President Bush and Britain's Finance Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. Despite media speculation, it's unlikely Mr. Brown will be prime minister before 2008, when Mr. Bush will be on his way out of the White House.
But if Brown is able to maintain a buoyant British economy for the next four years, his prospects of following Mr. Blair into 10 Downing Street are very good.
The May 18 article "Two possible futures for Iraq's struggle" reports that there are two possible outcomes to the insurgency in Iraq, both focused on Sunni participation in politics and oil revenues. The analysis is fine as far as it goes.
Unfortunately, however, the article ignores the same ethnic group that others seem to have forgotten: the Kurds.
Sunni appeasement at the expense of the Kurds, who have been oppressed by every Arab government in the region, could lead to all-out civil war.
The Kurds are relatively organized, with a militia numbering in the tens of thousands, and they have made clear that they will not lose this opportunity for autonomy and their own reasonable share of oil revenues.
While the Kurds have been strong supporters of the US since the first invasion in 1992, we ignore their interests at the peril of peace in the Middle East.
St. Paul, Minn.
Regarding Lenore Skenazy's May 14 Opinion piece "It would've stumped Einstein: the missing-pen-by-the-phone theorem": There is no scientific explanation for disappearing pens.
People eat pens - of that I am sure. And those pens that are not eaten by pen-eaters grow legs on their own and disappear to places that we will never know.
I buy oodles of pens at Costco, knowing that one or two will never last the week. There are also pen thieves.
In fact, I can no longer find a pen in my possession that has the chew marks of a long-term owner.
Of course, disappearing pens may also be a blessing, as some which so gladly give up their ink to paper also contrarily offer themselves to shirt, pant pockets, and the scribing hand.
Disappearing pens may also be the work of our entrepreneurial systems. To keep the pen factories going, it is possible that pens actually self-destruct after a period of time.
However, rather than postulate, as we have for dozens of years on fixing the Social Security mess, we as a nation might be better served if we appoint a federal commission to investigate the mysteries of the disappearing pens.
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