Letters to the editor 

Sicko, atheists and more

What's ailing you?

While the WHO ratings are higher for other countries, many of the pure outcome-based measures such as survival rates for breast and prostate cancer are better in the United States.

The 3 percent expense ratio for Medicare unfortunately does not include management, cost of developing the programs, taxes, or true costs incurred by doctors. The cost of universal health includes higher taxes, lower take-home pay, higher unemployment, and the slower economic growth of socialist countries.

The long waits may be hokum to some, but certainly not to those waiting for cardiac surgery in Britain, or the nontreatment of rationed items such as dialysis in New Zealand or colonoscopies in Canada.

The employer/group-based system stems from WWII-era IRS rulings and the Nixon/Kennedy HMO subsidy deal, and favors the needs of employers over that of individuals. I'd sure like to see that slate wiped clean. I'm not sure a choice-based private system, where people can get burned by ignorance or by opting out, will ever be totally satisfactory. Sicko gives us a good kick in the butt about those aspects. Hopefully we can move the discussion forward with a more balanced view of costs as well as benefits.

– Eric Gatley, Atlanta

Religious vs. spiritual

I enjoyed Cliff Bostock's essay on atheists (Headcase, "It's hip to be an atheist," June 28) but I would like to comment on the difference between "religious" and "spiritual," which Mr. Bostock thinks is just semantics. Religions are dualistic and dogmatic. You prove your faith by following rules and being "god-fearing." People who are spiritual believe in a loving spirit and are learning to understand the way existence works and how they fit into that "oneness." They needn't prove anything to anyone. They turn out "god-loving." The difference between the two beliefs is tremendous.

– Robert Soloway, Decatur

Turn the tables

I turned to the Food & Drink section last night and was pleasantly surprised. You see, I'm 24 and I've been a server for the better part of five years now, and I feel that certain customers need a wake-up call. Your points were so relevant. I wish I could put the Bad Tipper description up on a billboard on Peachtree. Also the Overly Familiar. The Hater! Aaugh! Hell, you really could make this like, a three-part series.

When I started serving, I made the common mistakes, chilling when I should've been getting a condiment, but it's been years and I've gotten much better, where my tables don't have to ask for anything. I bring "it" to them before they open their mouths to ask. Everyone gets the same level of service from me, but everyone doesn't leave the same sort of tip. It's actually really frustrating.

– Nadine Graham, Duluth

Thank you

Ken,

What a fine story John did about Sicko and about me and the entire issue. Thank him for me please (and Joeff as well). It was such an honor to have your publication spend time with me and on the issue.

I regret I didn't have a lot of time to spend in Atlanta, as I would have enjoyed seeing more of it and chatting with people more. But rest assured that while there I heard a lot of stories from everyday Atlantans about health-care issues and costs. This truly is a nationwide scourge on our shared humanity.

Blessings to your staff and your publication. I loved the copy I picked up while there. Please send me a couple of this week's printed copies, if possible.

My intent is to be very vocal in the coming months as this nation at least addresses this issue. I hope you will consider an occasional essay from me for op-ed or perhaps even allow me to update John on my progress. The pressure kept on in our media is critical, and I so appreciate your efforts thus far to cover the issue.

– Donna Smith, Aurora, Colo.

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