- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Paying for health care

I read with interest Sally Pipes’ column “Five myths of health care,” (Commentary, Friday). The first myth, according to Miss Pipes, is that 47 million Americans are uninsured. Miss Pipes is factually incorrect when she claims that the Census Bureau counts anyone who was insured for part of the year as uninsured. It’s exactly the opposite.

Last year, I wrote to the Census Bureau and asked for its definition of who is considered insured and who is considered uninsured. The bureau’s response was: “People were considered ‘insured’ if they were covered by any type of health insurance for part or all of the previous calendar year. They were considered ‘uninsured’ if they were not covered by any type of health insurance at any time in that year.”

I would add a sixth myth on health care: that the Pacific Research Institute is an objective and credible source of information in the health care reform debate. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

PERRY BRYANT

Charleston, W.Va.

According to Sally Pipes, “Drug-makers can only sell pills at cut-rate, controlled prices in Europe and Canada because Americans pay full price” (“Five myths of health care,” Commentary, Friday).

One of the lessons everyone learns in Economics 101 is that price discrimination is profitable only when those who pay what Miss Pipes refers to as the “full price” actually pay what amounts to more than the full price.

Furthermore, price discrimination (a common practice in health care) usually is based on ability to pay, not price controls, in relatively affluent countries.

Drug companies should be allowed to charge whatever they want to whomever they want, but drug companies that do not want to be subjected to price controls in the United States (a very bad idea) have no moral right to demand restrictions on the importation of their products from other countries that do (unless this involves patent violations). After all, free trade is a cornerstone of economic freedom.

It is true that widespread importation of prescription drugs to the United States will result in shortages, but the only ones to be subjected to these shortages will be those who are not paying the full price. As Americans who are subsidizing the socialized medicine of Europe and Canada, this should hardly be our concern.

ANTONIO CHAVES

Silver Spring

Beijing and Berlin, Berlin and Beijing

The Washington Times is to be commended for the editorial “Beijing Olympics imperiled” (Friday). My son said to me: “Dad, did you write that editorial in The Times?” I could have, perhaps not as well, but it summarizes the situation concerning the Beijing Olympics so far as President Bush’s attendance is concerned.

I have the advantage of having lived in China from 1989 to 1994, and, being more than 84 years old, I also remember the events surrounding the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The similarities are startling: 1) Both hosting countries were (are) fascistic, totalitarian states (Nazi and communist); 2) both had (have) concentration camps and crematoriums; 3) both had (have) selected certain minorities for elimination (Germany — Jews, etc, China — Tibetans).

If Mr. Bush persists in his betrayal of all the United States does (or should) stand for, I recommend him for the “Neville Chamberlain Appeasement Award.” The editorial in question is only one of many reasons I am glad I have subscribed to The Washington Times since its inception.

THEODORE BYERS

Annandale

Contempt for Obama

Does Michelle Malkin really expect her angry rant against Sen. Barack Obama to change any minds about the Democratic candidate? Or, as is more likely, was her column just an exercise in vanity and vitriol (“Goodbye to the glow,” Commentary, Saturday)?

Whether you are a Democrat or not, there is much to admire in Mr. Obama. Few reasonable observers would dispute that he has a first-rate intellect, a commendable record of public service and an ability to inspire people to work together for the greater good. These are the qualities that have rallied not just Democrats to him, but Republicans and independents as well.

So what is the source of Miss Malkin’s one-dimensional contempt toward this multidimensional man? Is it reflexive conservative disdain toward a liberal of any size and shape?

Is it envy at the senator’s rhetorical gifts? Or is it discomfort at being told truths about race in America that she doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to hear?

By reducing Mr. Obama to a caricature and his actions to cliches, Miss Malkin does nothing to advance the conversation about his qualifications to lead the country.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

The $65,000 question

I certainly agree that Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett deserved the dubious honor of Knave of the Week (“Nobles and Knaves,” Editorial, Saturday). However, there is an additional aspect to Mr. Leggett’s wasteful spending that should be brought to light.

Recall that in Nov. 2007, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Bill 23-07, the Gender Identity Bill. Mr. Leggett promptly signed it.

We have collected more than 30,000 signatures to petition this bill to the ballot so that all Montgomery County voters may have the opportunity to weigh in on this matter.

Among other things, this bill would permit anyone to use the public facility designated for the gender with which he or she associates (or claims to associate) and the rest of us would have to swallow this threat to our safety.

Mr. Leggett has had the audacity to tell us that such is not the case, despite the clear language in the bill. Now Mr. Leggett, with $65,000 of our tax dollars, builds himself a private bathroom that will shield him from the effects of this egregious law he championed. Does his arrogance not know any bounds? Knave indeed.

JANET M. BAKER

Montgomery Village

Fill’er up

Automotive columnist Herb Shuldiner waxes eloquent about Chevrolet’s new hydrogen-powered “zero-emission” sport utility vehicle but somehow never gets around to telling his readers where the hydrogen will come from for his “Hydrogen Superhighway” or how it will be produced (“GM launches fleet of fuel cell vehicles,” Auto Weekend, Friday).

Most people think hydrogen is produced from the electrolysis of water, but that process is so expensive and energy-intensive that we would need dedicated fossil-fueled or nuclear power plants just to manufacture the required amounts.

In reality, hydrogen is produced commercially from natural gas (methane) in a process that emits carbon dioxide and consumes a lot of energy.

Burning a gallon of gasoline produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, while using fossil fuels to produce a kilogram of hydrogen (which has about the same energy as a gallon of gasoline) via electrolysis emits about 70 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Transportation and storage of hydrogen (either as a gas or liquid) requires even more energy and more pollution.

So, why not just eliminate the energy overhead and pollution of hydrogen and use plentiful, low-polluting natural gas to power our vehicles? It’s cheaper, more practical and better for the environment. Also, the distribution infrastructure is already largely in place.

Our future superhighway will feature methane, not hydrogen.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington

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