Letters to the Editor

Readers write about healthcare, Japanese-American citizens, indelible body art, concrete, and better teaching methods.

Before universal healthcare, first fix the system

Regarding the March 3 article, "Arguments mount for national healthcare": I see a great deal written of late about how we need to adopt universal healthcare or something similar to it. I see so much about how we should commit vast public funds to this problem, but very little about exactly what makes the current system so wasteful and expensive. Is it the cost of malpractice insurance? Price gouging? The cost of the education itself? What of these factors? It seems to me that these root issues are never addressed and many people simply demand that we offer universal coverage as a "right." How about we talk about fixing the system the hard way, the right way, for the long term, instead of yet another band-aid?

Ryan English
Atlanta

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Interned Japanese were US citizens

Regarding the Feb. 12 article, "Australia to admit past wrong: helpful?": The article refers to "America's apology in 1988 for interning Japanese citizens during World War II." The majority of Japanese-Americans interned were American citizens, not Japanese citizens. It's more than 60 years later, and some still cannot or will not distinguish between citizens of Japan and citizens of America who are of Japanese descent.

Colleen Y. Ropp
Sacramento, Calif.

Welcome to my life, tattoo

In response to Ralph Keyes's March 13 Opinion piece, "Tattoos: indelibly passé": Mr. Keyes is being embarrassingly naive when he pronounces that tattooing, an art form that has been around since Neolithic times, is soon to go the way of the poodle skirt. While there will certainly always be a percentage of the tattooed populace that regrets the decision, especially when made due to peer pressure or inebriation, there will also always be plenty of people like myself who are completely content with our lifelong choices. Just because Keyes cannot think of a piece of art he would like to live with forever, doesn't mean no one else has this capacity.

His reasoning that tattoos are gotten purely to seem tough, daring, or rebellious, is a leftover from some other era – when they were mostly worn by sailors and bikers (in the United States, that is). The reality is that people have a wide range of deeply personal reasons for their permanent choices. And as for parents, I have a great relationship with mine and have never needed to rebel against them. Indeed, my mother was inspired to get her first tattoo after she turned 60. Keyes might have a hard time explaining to her that it's really just a phase she's going through.

Noah Scalin
Richmond, Va.

Lasting materials reduce CO2

Regarding the March 12 article, "Industry scrambles to find a 'greener' concrete": "Greener concrete" may be achievable, but we shouldn't minimize existing concrete's huge benefits. Be cognizant of its life-cycle advantages. The article told of some of these benefits. Although fly ash used in the concrete mixture was mentioned in the article, the true benefit of this was not told. Fly ash strengthens concrete so its useful life can increase to more than 100 years. This is an important cost-reduction factor because it reduces the need for repair and replacement, and therefore it reduces carbon-dioxide emissions over time.

G. Stanley Doore
Silver Spring, Md.

In-depth teaching better serves students

Regarding the March 13 article, "Focus on algebra, U.S. panel tells schools": Thank you for publishing an insightful article on teaching math in a more in-depth fashion, rather than in the frivolous and wasteful approach currently employed in the majority of our educational system. By teaching students to quickly memorize facts and then regurgitate them on one test, never to be seen again, we are doing them a disservice. Memorization has its place, but the current curriculum does not allow space for mastery and understanding.

By teaching students to learn a few things in-depth, they will learn to apply those study techniques to other facets of their lives and become excellent at something, rather than pretty good at nothing. As a physics teacher in a private school I am able to do just this without having to wait for the government to catch up to modern pedagogy.

Ben Rich
Bethesda, Md.

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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