Red-blue divide mainly a creation of US media

Regarding the Dec. 22 article "Who are the nation's 'cheapstates'? Try the blue ones": I am so sick of the divisions in this country: North-South, left-right, liberal-conservative, and now the latest, red-blue.

I was born in South Carolina, and I love that state. I have also lived in and loved Georgia, Texas, Maine, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois before I was 21. After that, I traveled around the country, hitchhiking, roadtripping, and working.

Heaving stones or fixing fences, or even arguing about life - long before the media separated us into Bush lovers or haters - I laughed, cried (some folks were just back from Vietnam), but all of them darn good storytellers and if you needed help it was there.

Every state is very different. Given a thousand years and no contact, we'd speak different languages and be different people. Each state has unique problems, but also great people (and food). Sitting around dinner or a campfire, you wouldn't want to be with finer people. Don't get me wrong - there were a lot of idiots, too, but equally spread out.

Wander without prejudice for three years and you would find that force that underlies this country, a quiet force. It can be divided and it can be conquered, but only if we allow it to be. Our media are allowing it to be conquered. What good is an index if it divides us? What unity is there in calling a whole region stingy and another generous?
Mike Dorsey
Newburyport, Mass.

The article on charitable giving does not provide the true picture. The reason the "red" states show up higher in the lists versus the "blue" states also has to do with the fact that more secular Americans live in the blue states, and hence provide charitable giving in a variety of ways that often are not tracked or noted on the IRS tax forms.

For example, Utah ranks as one of the highest states in giving to one's church. I would argue that is not necessarily the same as giving donations of food, volunteer service, or plain cash to those in need.
Srini Anne
Sacramento, Calif.

I must point out (as a former resident of a "blue" state) that donations to a religious institution are not necessarily the same as donations to a charitable institution.

Yes, many religious people give money to their church, synagogue, or mosque. However, that money usually goes first toward maintenance of the building and staff (which are used by the giver) and then toward any religious projects.

Furthermore, many (though not all) religious charities exist mainly to promote their religious precepts, with the aid proffered mainly as bait to the poor.

At any rate, remove the "red" state tithes and then see how they stack up.
Lesley Witherspoon

Drug promotion unethical

Regarding the Nov. 24 article "Drug risks raise doubt about ads": The news media should make it perfectly clear that consumers are shelling out the billions of dollars the drug companies spend on "ask your doctor" drug ads.

This, along with the billions of dollars the drug companies spend on lobbying government officials, accounts for the continuing dramatic increases in the costs of prescribed medications.

In my judgment, it is unethical and immoral that the drug companies do this and that the government permits it.
William E. Anderson
Hollywood, Fla.

Over 65? You're a 'classic'

Regarding the Dec. 22 Opinion piece by William Ecenbarger, "'Senior citizen' is a euphemism that just doesn't fit": I'm 87, and prefer to be called a "classic citizen."
William R. Bunge
New Berlin, Wis.

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