Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of January 31, 2011

Readers write in about Congress's tea party class, the debate over 'rights' under the Constitution, and health care reform.

Will money corrupt elected?

Walter Rodgers really brings our suspicions home in his Jan. 10 column, "Will Congress's tea party class go native in Washington?" Once in office, it becomes about fundraising. I would like to believe some of the new members of Congress won't buy in. From the sound of it, though, they are set up to fail.

Charles Wade


Defining 'rights' and values

In his Jan. 17 commentary, "Do you have a 'right' to a job, home, or health care?," Mark Hendrickson acknowledges only "those who work" and "those who shirk." What are his thoughts about those who cannot work for reasons beyond their control, such as serious illness or job loss due to the Great Recession? Those circumstances aren't the result of poor personal choices.

Why do we support obscene bonuses for those whose product is imaginary numbers, and yet we don't consider, for example, putting the able-bodied unemployed to work restoring 1930s bridges? Is it the "right" of the greedy to be made whole, and the "responsibility" of their victims to suffer?

Ann C. Somers

Brookline, N.H.

Our Founding Fathers did write a limited number of unalienable rights into the Constitution. However, we do have a number of additional rights that are not listed as unalienable: for example, the right to a free high school education. Rights like this exist because we decided that the government providing them at our expense creates a more peaceful and prosperous society.

A right to a good job and a house would indeed fail to qualify as a true Constitution-backed "right" for all the reasons that Mr. Hendrickson mentions. However, creating a right to medical care would allow us to live longer, healthier lives at substantially less cost. So it has become a "right."

Should economic conditions change and health care become a product that can be more efficiently provided by the free market, the "right" to health care can be revoked.

Daniel Schein

San Jose, Calif.

Health care and the economy

Regarding Anthony Schlaff's opinion piece "Barrier to better health care: GOP definition of freedom" (Jan. 17): The United States must adopt a national health-care system to be economically competitive. Medical costs are approaching 18 percent of the US economy, twice that of other industrial nations. US life expectancy is two to three years less than other industrial nations – indicating a sicker, less productive workforce. Historically, half of US personal bankruptcies are a consequence of medical bills.

Whether with "Obamacare" or something similar, the system has to change to protect the economy.

Charles Forsberg

Lexington, Mass.

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