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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WE CAN'T AFFORD BUSH'S SPIN
With more than 1,000 American soldiers dead in Iraq, Americans can no longer afford to hear George W. Bush's sunny spin on Iraq. It's time to get the facts. In July, the CIA completed a comprehensive report on Iraq. President Bush should release the CIA's report immediately -- with any secret information removed -- as Bush's fellow Republican John McCain and others have urged. Our soldiers' lives are on the line. Our sons and daughters will continue to die as long as we are in Iraq. For their sake, we need know all the facts and assess them honestly.
EVERYBODY DESERVES HEALTH INSURANCE
Because I am a little older now and starting to have some health problems, I appreciate having health insurance. I am one of [approximately] 350,000 individuals -- employees, dependents and retirees -- covered by the state government's group-health-insurance program. [According to published reports] it is going to take almost an additional half-billion dollars to fund group health insurance for the state's 2004 fiscal year. It costs about $2 billion each fiscal year to pay for insurance for state employees, retirees, and their dependents. Another way of looking at this is that each fiscal year every Illinoisan has to chip in $161 to fund the state's group-insurance program.
I consider myself very lucky that as a state employee after I retire I will have health insurance for the rest of my life because I have completed 20 years of state service. Also, my wife will be covered for a minimal monthly cost. I am very thankful to workers who pay the state tax that allows me to have such a benefit. I know that many of them are low-wage employees who pay that tax and might not have health insurance themselves and very unlikely have health insurance when they retire because generally this benefit is disappearing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of those without health insurance grew from 43.6 million in 2002 to 45 million in 2003. The number of uninsured would have been significantly higher if Medicare and the state Children's Health Insurance program did not step in to insure another 4 million uninsured. It appears that without federal and state help, about 17 percent of the U.S. population would be uninsured.
You would think that when 45 million Americans have no health insurance, the Republicans who control Congress and the White House would have the same attitude and motivation to help provide basic health insurance for their constituents as did Illinois Republicans when 90,000 state-insured individuals were concerned about the problems caused by switching one health-insurance provider for another.
TALK TO THE KIDS ABOUT SEX
Parents are their children's first sexuality educators. In support of this principle, National Family Sexuality Month has been observed every October since 1975 by a national coalition of social-service, education, and health-care organizations. [These groups] commemorate this month with special programs focused on the important role of parents as their children's primary sexuality educators.
From the earliest years, parents teach their children about their bodies, loving and healthy relationships, and their own family's values. Honest family communication about sexuality can support young people to make responsible choices about their sexuality and health and help them grow into sexually healthy adults.
Parents can be very effective in educating their children about sexuality without necessarily being experts. Accurate education about sexuality will not only prepare today's young people to make sexually healthy decisions in their own lives, but it will also help them become better sexuality educators of their own children.
We encourage readers to call 217-544-2744 and talk to our health-education coordinator. We want to make "the talk" easier and morecomfortable for you and your child.
Chair, Education Committee
Planned Parenthood Springfield Area
Kudos to Dusty Rhodes and Illinois Times' encomium on Springfield's "Mr. Route 66" ["The road home," Sept. 16]. My family's only claim to celebrity fame is that my cousin Bob Bayles Jr. is married to Ronnie Troup, daughter of Bobby Troup, who wrote "Route 66." Wish I had known Tom to communicate this. Now he knows.
Tom Teague was my friend. Something I have not seen mentioned was his longtime involvement in the Sangamon Valley Backgammon Association, going back to its earliest days. Tom was a strong player, and his dry wit and tales of adventure were much appreciated.
[Capitol security guard] Bill Wozniak also was my friend. A lot of wonderful things have been written about him -- all true. But I would like to point out his love of music and the fact that he was a self-taught flute player.
Our world is diminished by the passing of these men.
Sangamon County is 87 percent white, 10 percent African-American, and 3 percent other races. The race was incorrect in one reference in a story last week [Dusty Rhodes, "Fudging the numbers," Sept. 23]. The mistake was corrected in online editions.