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America's shame

August 22, 2009

Re "Like a Third World country," Column, Aug. 16

We proclaim ourselves the richest country in the world. Every year, we spend billions on our military and on killing people in Afghanistan and Iraq, and very few complain. But just let our president and others who actually care about what happens to people living here try to do something and all hell breaks loose.

What are our priorities anyway?

Is it just OK to have so many people with no healthcare? Is it OK for these people, many of whom are living in Third World conditions even though they work for a living, to have no coverage?

You have only to look at this -- thousands lining up waiting for hours for basic healthcare -- to be very ashamed of what we have become.

Jaycie Ingersoll

Beverly Hills

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Why is it that thousands of people in one of the largest and most progressive cities in the United States (and, indeed, in the world) have flocked like Third World refugees to a weeklong free healthcare clinic because they have no health insurance, but their fellow citizens run screaming in the opposite direction when the president recommends legislation that would make healthcare affordable for every man, woman and child in the U.S.?

And why is it that in one of the most educated and civilized nations in the world, supposedly intelligent people are frightened that a president -- who revered his grandmother and still publicly mourns her recent passing -- would permit your grandmother's life or death to be determined by some ethereal and nonexistent government "death panel"?

This is my country? I don't get it.

Dixon Gayer

Huntington Beach

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I have read about the free clinics in L.A., with the uninsured coming in droves. I don't want a woman to put up with a painful mouth for a year because of a lack of dental coverage. I don't want someone with an infectious disease struggling through daily life, infecting others because that person has no health insurance.

I personally am on Medicare and very satisfied. I want simplicity. I want good care for a reasonable price. I will exercise, eat right and eschew tobacco. And I heartily desire, when and if I grow old, not to be kept alive while I am literally dying.

I will gladly give up my probable last two weeks of life to save the government several thousand or several hundred thousand dollars better spent on prevention and screening for the young.

If this is rationing, then it is rational. America, we can do this and do it right.

Jane Roberts

Redlands

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Steve Lopez's article went a long way in publicizing beneficial volunteer work, but wasn't it just a few years ago that the county had to shut down King-Harbor Hospital? What happened there shows that government bureaucracy can't solve these problems.

And the veteran who lamented about poor access because of rationing at the VA hospital pretty much shows the feds can't solve it either.

Competent management and transparent funding practices are needed at all levels. The current economic crisis hit public programs hard, but even when the money is there, it seems to get poured into pockets that have little to do with patient care.

Ray Torres

Menifee, Calif.

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I am so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American right now.

To see thousands of people showing up at Inglewood's Forum for free healthcare -- as Lopez said, "like a Third World country" -- is a terrible thing.

Now it appears that the president has been pressured into perhaps giving up the "public option," the only reason many people were supporting the legislation in the first place. This is disheartening indeed.

What has happened to our country? Where is the compassion for others? Why are insurance companies and many legislators working together against us? Why is there fear over a government takeover of healthcare? The federal Medicare and Medicaid system works, and so does Social Security.

There is a meanness in this country I have not seen before. It truly is a bad state of affairs for our country and our future.

Sandra Trutt

Los Angeles

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Dueling headlines in one edition of The Times: "Like a Third World country" and "White House appears ready to drop public option."

Could there be any starker contrast between reality and politics?

Lopez's column shows us a sordid reality. We see the terrible suffering of the poor and near-poor, unable to afford healthcare for sometimes life-threatening situations -- while the Wall Street party with its million-dollar bonuses roars on.

The White House healthcare story, by contrast, shows us a flaccid president, unable to control his own party, bowing repeatedly to pressure from cowardly, corrupt legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Mr. President, soaring campaign oratory doesn't cut it any longer. I am increasingly bitter and disillusioned with your performance.

Sara Meric

Santa Monica

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