Letters to the Editor

Readers write about comparing South Africa to other African nations, marketing healthcare, business opportunities in Africa, vegetarians' impact on polar bears.

Comparing S. Africa to other African nations is biased

Regarding your Jan. 3 editorial, "How South Africa can alter Africa": I see in this article a patronizing attitude. What it forgets is that Africa is not one country. South Africa is a very different country from Kenya or Zimbabwe, and it differs likewise from every other country in Africa. It is as different as, say, the US is from Mexico or Canada.

The assumption that what happens elsewhere in Africa also happens, or may happen, in South Africa is arrogant. This is not reasonable and could well cause damage to South Africa.

Recommended: 'Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye': 5 stories from a family's time near the Arctic

Shane Wilson
Johannesburg, South Africa

Healthcare is marketed in the US

Regarding the Jan. 2 book review, "When a pound of cure is too much": It is amazing that people can overlook an obvious relationship when ideology blocks vision.

In the new book, "Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer," we learn again that Americans spend 2-1/2 times more per capita for conventional medical care than the rest of the industrialized world does, yet are less healthy than people in those other countries. The US is also the only one of those industrialized nations that does not have universal healthcare.

Are these facts related? You bet!

In other countries, healthcare is a service provided as – and only when – needed. In the US, healthcare is a commodity to be marketed. And market it the drug companies, HMOs, insurance companies, etc., surely do.

Theodore S. Arrington

Charlotte, N.C.

Opportunity for business in Africa

Regarding the Dec. 27 article, "In South Africa, lessons in success from a rare entrepreneur": Lack of entrepreneurial culture is a common problem in most African countries. Success is usually frowned upon or even associated with superstition.

My wife and I came to Lusaka some 14 years ago. We started a small hairdressing business and our profit per week exceeded my monthly pay as a lecturer at university.

There are opportunities everywhere in Africa. In Zambia you can make money out of nothing. As an example, with a recent increase in building activities, one can start crushing stones, which are plentiful in Lusaka, and sell the result to builders.

But many of our people easily see poverty in our midst, rather than the opportunities that are there.

John Volk
Lusaka, Zambia

Vegetarians save polar bears

Regarding the Jan. 2 article, "Do polar bears need US protection?" The plight of the polar bear shows that it is time to take global warming seriously.

According to the US Geological Survey, two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be extinct by 2050 due to habitat loss, primarily from global warming.

Of the many human activities that cause global warming, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. A groundbreaking 2006 UN report concluded, according to a senior author, that livestock are "one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems." By adopting a vegetarian diet, we can help reverse the devastating effects of global warming on animals and the environment. Let's not wait for the last polar bear to drown.

Christine Martin
Norfolk, Va.

Staff writer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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