- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 6, 2008

Talking Turkey

Thank you for drawing attention to the crucial matters of the case on closing Turkey’s governing party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s rebuke of strong arm tactics in Pakistan (A New Pakistan? Op-Ed, Wednesday). Surely, these two subjects have been underreported yet threaten stability and progress in these states.

With regard to Turkey, I would like to add that the closure case is unacceptable in light of Turkey’s commitment to democratic values and its multiparty parliamentary system. Past experiences have proven that closing political parties has not resolved Turkey’s political, social or economic problems. Rather, it has led domestic and international public opinion to question Turkey’s democratic values and its commitment to universal standards.

The objective of politics ought to be the effective use of the popular support within the boundaries of a pluralist constitutional framework. Political parties are fundamental to the implementation of democracy and play a critical role in working toward strengthening democracy. Civil society’s expectation from Turkey’s political parties is that they move Turkey away from such a polarized political atmosphere to one that promotes reconciliation and prosperity.


Research Assistant, Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessman’s Association

Representative Office to the USA


Homeschooling endangered

The article “Home-school ruling centers on protection” (Nation, Thursday) condescendingly states that the case involving the Long family of California “became a cause celebre for those claiming that home-schooling was being outlawed.” Yes, the ruling by the California Court of Appeal for the Second Division has evoked a strong reaction from the national homeschooling community as well as many homeschool advocacy and legal groups, and it should.

The fact is that the unfair and far-reaching ruling had the potential to not only ban homeschooling in all of California, but could potentially threaten the legality of homeschooling nationwide. Since the ruling stated that, in California, unless a parent has a teaching certificate, he or she does “not have a constitutional right to home-school” his or her children and second, once this ruling was published, it could have been used in legal proceedings in other courts across the country.

The reason that requiring home-schooling parents to have teaching credentials would have effectively outlawed homeschooling in California lies in the fact that the vast majority of homeschooling mothers do not have teaching credentials. This, however, has in no way hurt the academic success of the vast majority of homeschooled students, as evidenced by the superior academic achievements of homeschooled students and their strong showing in national and local competitions.

In addition, Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (CLC), as your article states, contends that “the CLC had no interest in changing or impacting the law regarding children who are home-schooled by loving, caring parents.” The fact is that the CLC continued to press for the two youngest Long children to be sent to public or private school after the initial Superior court proceeding did not find in their favor. The CLC appealed the first ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet to the California Court of Appeal for the Second Division. Although Judge Marpet had found the homeschooling of the Long children to be inadequate, he did not order them to be sent to outside school because he felt Mrs. Long had the right to teach her children.

In short, whether the Long family was doing a good job homeschooling their children and whether they were guilty of some form of abuse should have no impact on other homeschooling families in California or anywhere else in this country no more than violence in one public high school should cause all public schooling to be banned. However, due to the California Second Court of Appeals’ sweeping decision against all homeschooling parents, homeschooling parents, organizations and legal aid groups should band together to fight this ruling and let their voices be heard as loud as they can.



Health crisis

Health care in America is in crisis (“Five myths of health care,” Commentary, March 21). Turn on the news, listen to the political candidates or simply speak with your friends and neighbors who are in need of or seeking medical treatment. The cost is high; the availability of service is sometimes inadequate and often unavailable to far too many who need it.

While it is abundantly clear that Americans in general, and the presidential candidates in particular, are keenly aware of the concern regarding ever-escalating health care costs, it appears their response is at best one-dimensional. In order to make a serious dent in the problem, we must own up to the fact that a multidimensional approach is necessary.

Asking who will pay for health care is certainly important, and each of the candidates has mapped out their own particular approach. Sen. Barack Obama is calling for incentivizing insurance for all, while Sen. Hillary Clinton wants to mandate insurance for every American. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain is attempting to offer tax breaks or credits to help enlist almost all of the uninsured. While they’ve done the important work of opening a dialogue on the issue and who will pay, they have not yet begun to answer the question of how to pay for what they are offering.

It is significant to note that Mrs. Clinton has not explained how she will force people to buy insurance, presumably because the mention of any type of force might have voters running for cover.

However, each plan addresses only how risk will be allocated. None of the offered plans discuss how we will begin to pay for the resulting benefits. For the Democrats, the closing of loopholes for the rich does not come close to the total cost by even the most conservative estimates. As an aside, with commitments to increase entitlement spending without raising taxes, even a third grader would question the math.

Conversely, the Republican Mr. McCain will not close the loopholes of the rich and fails to indicate from where the funding will be obtained.

The sad truth is health care spending in the United States is currently 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the National Coalition on Health Care. Simply stated, that means for every dollar produced in this country, 16 percent goes to fund health care. Our health care costs far outpace our rate of inflation and, as a result, the problem is not getting better. Factor in the “graying of America,” where we will have a higher percentage of senior citizens in coming years, along with our recently legislated Medicare program, which lacks any discernible source of funding, and at best the outlook is bleak.

In order to responsibly deal with health care costs, allocation of risk is not enough. We must seek meaningful and tangible ways to diminish the actual cost of health care.

Mr. McCain has touched on tort reform, proposing that the reduction of settlements in medical malpractice cases would serve to lower the insurance premiums every doctor must pay, thus lowering overall health care costs. Other suggestions include allowing people to import medication from other locales to alleviate related medical costs.

Yet another answer may be the recognition that there are overseas destinations providing comparable or substantially better levels of health care than what might be available in the United States for a fraction of the cost. In addition, access to doctors is generally believed to be better in certain foreign locations.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the continued rise in health care costs is readily in evidence. In the last few weeks in the New York market alone, Cabrini Medical Center closed and Victory Memorial announced it will soon be auctioned.

I do not think there is just one answer to the complexities of addressing the health care dilemma. However, I believe if we fail to keep an open mind and neglect to recognize that, as a complex problem, the answer must be multidimensional, we will not be able to adequately address our needs.


President and CEO, One World United


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