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Government's role in healthy living; politics and conspiracy theories; danger from toy guns

June 09, 2011
  • Protest: About 15 students demonstrate in downtown L.A. in support of the DREAM Act. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Protest: About 15 students demonstrate in downtown L.A. in support of the…

It's not just tuition

Re "Tuition deal for immigrants upheld," June 7

I certainly can empathize with someone who is brought here illegally as a child and who now wants to go to college. But it still doesn't sit well with me because the state has less than zero extra cash and because we are also fine with charging legal residents from outside California many thousands of dollars more than an undocumented resident.

William G. Tierney, the director of USC's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, is quoted as saying, "It's good economic policy for the state to have more educated workers." On its face, how can one argue with that statement?

But last time I checked, it is illegal to hire an illegal immigrant. So where are these highly educated, heavily subsidized illegal residents going to work when they finish college?

Masako Matsumoto

Playa del Rey

Health and the government

Re "Government, heal thyself," Opinion, June 3

In their Op-Ed article criticizing the Obama administration for spending money on "ideology" rather than on effective healthful-living initiatives, Jeff Stier and Henry I. Miller squeeze in the phrase "social engineering" four times. The repetitive use of politically charged labels to whip up fear over some nebulous "liberal agenda" — that's ideology.

Posting calorie counts on menus and funding farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods may not have yielded verifiable changes in our country's health yet, but give these ideas a little time.

Statistically, their costs are miniscule, and collectively, they broaden our country's education about the connection between nutrition and health, a trend that will result in eventual long-term healthcare savings.

Carsten Dau


Stier and Miller are wrong about Communities Putting Prevention to Work, or CPPW. Communities across the country are building health, saving money and saving lives using evidence-based strategies that are showing results.

If common sense isn't enough to elucidate the connection between having sidewalks and being able to walk in your neighborhood, or having access to affordable fresh foods and being able to eat them, there is a wealth of research to back up these efforts.

Each CPPW community is deciding for itself the strategies that work best for them, and they're working with local organizations to make them happen. We're proud to work alongside CPPW communities that are joining together to find solutions that work.

Larry Cohen


The writer is executive director of the Prevention Institute.

Stier's and Miller's arguments are not new. Most gains in health over the last century have been due to policy and environmental interventions, including sanitation, workplace safety measures and smoking restrictions. While evoking similar complaints of government intrusion, these actions contributed to an unprecedented 25-year increase in life expectancy and a markedly improved quality of life.

Continued smoking and the obesity epidemic threaten to reverse these gains and worsen runaway healthcare costs.

For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's CPPW and community transformation grant programs are vitally important investments. They are based on strong science and supported by more than 100 years of public health experience.

Paul Simon, MD

Los Angeles

Jonathan Fielding, MD

Los Angeles

Simon is director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health's Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. Fielding is the public health department's director.

Conspiracy theory thinking

Re "A long tradition of suspicious minds," June 5

The "birther" attacks on President Obama's legitimacy are "much ado about nothing." However, we would be fools to believe that all political decisions are made within the constraints of constitutional authority. Many are made behind closed doors to promote special interests, not the best interests of the nation as a whole.

The term "conspiracy theory" has been overused to create a form of psychological blackmail that encourages us to dismiss as paranoid ravings even the most legitimate investigations into abuses of political power.

William Shakespeare, who understood human nature about as well as it could be understood, based his great tragedies on conspiratorial attempts to seize control of a nation's government. His plays teach us that we must be vigilant regarding the extremes to which the unscrupulous will work to seize power.

Dennis M. Clausen


The article distorts the truth by stating, "The founders were godly people." Some of the Founding Fathers were "godly," but many of them were not, among them Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

To wit, how many

times is the word "god" in the Constitution? None. How many times is "god" in the Declaration of Independence? None. Reference is made only to nature's God, indicating nature's law, not superstitious beliefs.

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