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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008 01:40 am

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

CANADA MEETS HEALTH CARE NEED

I would like to challenge Tom Rand and the others who write negative letters regarding universal health care to propose positive ideas rather than harp on negatives [see "Letters," Aug. 7].

I just returned from Toronto, where my senior-aged Canadian friend and I compared notes on our respective health care situations. My friend is over 70 and has had several of the usual health issues of someone that age, including heart attacks. For all of its flaws, I would happily trade his health care system for my own, where I have paid as much as $12,000 a year for insurance that I still cannot use for fear of losing, so I effectively have no coverage at all. My friend does not live in fear of losing everything he has worked his entire life for in the wake of a single medical need, so the Canadian program must have something going for it. Universal health care is not just a "cause du jour."

Douglas Mayol

Springfield

BUILD ON HIGHSCHOOL'S HISTORY

In response to the article "So long, Senators?" [R.L. Nave, July 31], I have a request to the district administration: Leave Springfield High School where it is.

This school is beyond rich with legends, history, and memories. My grandmother walked those hallways back in the 1940s, which I had the privilege of doing myself. She has passed down stories to me of those days, and I felt an amazing comfort going to school there knowing this. So let's build on its history and not destroy it.

Our superintendent, Walter Milton Jr., never walked those halls as a student, so this makes it easier for him to push for [moving the school]. There is a certain pride held toward Springfield High that he may never even understand. No matter how horrible our sports teams may be doing, there will always be an unbreakable pride. I agree with Marissa DeWeese as well about not minding the congestion of the hallways. If anything, I enjoyed this. It keeps the place alive and incredibly full of diversity. By moving Springfield High to the extreme west side, we may be losing this crowd. Many students are more than likely going to feel the need to relocate due to high transportation costs, and future students are going to lose an amazing experience when it comes to meeting new people.

I do agree that the playing field is in poor condition. I know it needs to be fixed. So let's do it.

Jessica J. Minder

Springfield

PETA'S UNWORTHY SCARE TACTICS

I was rather dismayed and disappointed by the shameless letter to the editor sent by Heather Moore of PETA [July 31]. People are quick to jump on conservative or religious organizations that use scare tactics to convert people to their cause, but when organizations like PETA do this they're given a free pass.

First of all was the shameless use of a recently deceased person of importance. Tony Snow, former White House press secretary, radio talk-show host, and news commentator, recently died of colon cancer. Moore then linked his colon cancer to eating meat and suggests you can avoid Snow's fate by adopting a vegan diet. Here's the truth: Snow did not contract cancer by eating meat. He had a family history of the disease. His mother died of the same disease back when he was 17. As scientists and doctors have studied cancer, they have learned that a number of people are genetically predisposed to contracting cancer, and it does run in families. But do you know what really causes cancer? Nobody knows.

Next is the use of half-truths and information tailored to further the cause. It's true that a high-fat and low-fiber diet can increase your risk of cancer, but it doesn't specifically cause it. To reduce your risk doesn't mean you should completely eliminate meat; you just reduce the intake. The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society have never said that eliminating meat and dairy will eliminate cancer.

The truth is that the human body needs nutrients from a wide variety of sources. We're omnivores. We're not strictly carnivores, nor are we meant to be strictly herbivores. Eating nothing but meat and fat can be bad for you, but actually eating nothing but plant-based foods can be bad for you, too, in certain situations. The key word is "moderation," not "elimination."

There are those who may choose the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, and that's their right. If you do it, do it for your own reasons, not because somebody from PETA threw some scary statistics at you. Weigh all the facts. Do your homework before radically changing your lifestyle. But remember this: There is really nothing wrong with eating meat. There are millions of species on this planet who do. It's part of nature. You have the right to believe otherwise, but we omnivores have a right to our lifestyle, too. We don't need scare tactics and sensationalism thrown at us to change our lifestyles.
Steve Marley
Springfield

THE BRIDGES OF SANGAMON COUNTY

In Sangamon County there is a tangle of bridges that are fast deteriorating. Their foundations are splitting and their trusses grow weaker by the day. But these are not ordinary bridges. They are bridges to where the difficulty is: They are the link between the needy and everyone else. These bridges are our providers in the social-service network, the providers of care for the addicted, the abused, the poor, and the like.

Across this county and across this state these social-service networks find themselves in acute distress, the result of recent funding reductions resulting from the stunningly idiotic dysfunction between the Illinois governor and legislative leadership [see Dusty Rhodes, "First domino to fall," July 17; Rich Miller, "Three-headed monster," July 31].

I know this dysfunction well because I have been placed in the middle of it. I am the chief executive officer of Triangle Center, a community-based nonprofit that provides care for over 1,400 people yearly who have alcohol and other drug problems.

Just a few days ago I received a letter from the Illinois Department of Human Services informing me that Triangle Center's annual state funding would be reduced by $538,000, or 25 percent, effective Aug. 1. I was left with 20 days to balance a budget that must include across-the-board salary and staff reductions, among many other things.

I know in these times eyes glaze over when we read the gaggle of superlatives used to describe budget cuts. But I would like to describe things differently. I ask that you consider the inevitable residual effects on our community — social and economic — in light of Triangle Center's funding reduction.

Because of our severe funding curtailment, and our resulting lack of means to satisfy treatment demand, in the weeks and months to come there will be more DUIs and more DUI fatalities; our streets and highways will be less safe. Our judges will be angry because those they sentence for DUI will not have court-mandated treatment available to them. Did you know that 70 percent of the inmates in our prisons were drunk or doped up when they committed their crimes? There will be more crime. Our county-jail population, already at record high numbers, will continue to swell.

And consider those who are homeless. Homelessness is an odious local community problem that for years has vexed our civic leaders and citizens alike. The majority of these people have alcohol/drug or mental-health issues or both. Most of the help they need will not be available; their numbers will multiply and you will see them on our streets, under our bridges, and in our public places.

Consider the youngster who experiments or regularly uses drugs or alcohol. What if the youngster is your youngster? If you are like me, the lack of access to care for my child would shock me into fright.

Other consequences of untreated addiction we can look forward to are lost worker productivity, school dropouts, teen pregnancies, increased emergency-room visits, and child abuse and domestic violence.

Triangle Center is but one social bridge in Sangamon County; there are many more. Our governor and legislative leaders must come to their senses and repair our bridges. When you consider the social and economic dynamics, they simply cannot afford not to.

Stephen J. Knox

Springfield

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