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Letters to the editor 

The HOPE scholarship, homeless shelter and health care

DEMONIZING THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP

I just finished reading Mara Shalhoup's article: "Hope's inner-city squeeze" (Fallout, Aug. 16) and I was a little unclear on a few points.

Help me understand, Ms. Shalhoup, how the voluntary purchasing of lottery tickets is a tax on low-income minorities. I was under the impression that "taxes" were mandated and not a free choice like the purchase of a lottery ticket. If Ms. Shalhoup has a problem with the fact that the HOPE scholarship is voluntarily funded by those who voluntarily buy lottery tickets I suggest she voluntarily not do so.

I don't see any research in your article documenting that Mill Creek is actually better funded than Crim and I'm pretty sure that more tax dollars are collected for education in Fulton and the city of Atlanta than in Gwinnett County. But I would challenge Ms. Shalhoup to prove the discredited assumption that increased spending improves students' performance anyway – which is the basis for her argument.

It is rather simplistic for Ms. Shalhoup to infer that the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally is racist because more students of one race may qualify than students of another. However, Ms. Shalhoup completely misses the point that it is not a student's race that qualifies them for the HOPE but their grades. Unless her point is that grades should be based on race, race isn't an issue.

Lastly I'd like for Ms. Shalhoup to justify why any student who has worked hard to qualify for the HOPE scholarship should be denied it because of his or her parents' income. Is students' work of less or more value because of their parents' tax bracket?

Call a voluntary lottery "a tax"; pretend that increased spending improves student performance; infer that the HOPE scholarship is racially biased; and discredit the efforts of hard-working students because their parents actually pay real taxes. Play the role of a journalistic educational crusader but it's quite obvious that your credibility has already been established.

– Harry Hager, Atlanta

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL

John Sugg is right to lambaste Newt's regressive health-care "plan" (Metropolis, "This is a really sick joke," Aug. 16). However, toward the end of his article, Sugg makes a major mistake when he states that the Democratic candidates are "waffling" on what universal health care means. Maybe the CORPORATE Democratic candidates (Obama, Edwards, Clinton, et al) are waffling about universal health care – after all, they receive funding from the industry – but not Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. He has introduced a health-care plan, HR 676, legislation that would establish "Medicare for All," a universal, not-for-profit health-care system. This is a somewhat well-known legislation, and to omit its mention is shameful, and only perpetuates ignorance. Sugg, if you claim to be for universal health care, you should really do your homework.

– Alison Ross, Atlanta

PEACHTREE AND PINE

John Sugg is yet another clueless hypocrite when it comes to the abysmal situation of Peachtree and Pine [homeless shelter] in Midtown (Metropolis, "Street warfare," Aug. 9). Sugg comes out of his air-conditioned CL office, finds one guy with a "smile so bright it could ignite a bonfire" and proceeds to lecture to us that all of the homeless people are really artists and artisans waiting to bloom if only given the chance. I work right there in the middle of it on a daily basis, and I can't walk 50 feet without a scabby, smelly, degenerate scumbag trying to grab me. It's worse than downtown Detroit. During the last week I saw a family of four stalked and accosted outside the Fox, I saw female joggers harassed, I saw window-washing bums throw themselves into traffic, and I had a guy follow me for two blocks asking me if I wanted to die. Sugg mentions the "legions of workers and tourists" like we're aristocrats who don't want to be bothered by the great unwashed. No, John, I'm a working-class stagehand who wants to walk to his car at 12 a.m. and not fear for his life. I am sick of people visiting the city I grew up in and telling me it's a shithole. I'm sick of having to fight off the homeless every block. And I'm really sick of people like you excusing it and defending it. There are people who, by no fault of their own, got dealt a harsh hand and ended up on the streets. The other 98 percent of the homeless are self-destructive screw-ups who don't want to be sober, don't want to work, and don't care about anything or anybody. I don't care if they get moved to Fort McPherson or not. The current situation is not acceptable, and Atlanta will never be a great city until it gets this crap off the streets. If you actually lived and worked around the "handsome kids" you're slobbering over, you'd be bathing in Purell and calling the cops to come save you within five seconds.

– M. Klopper, Decatur

WIDE-OPEN TARGET FOR PRAYER

I read with interest your article (Headcase, "Looking for a mustard seed," Aug. 16) about faith and healing. I approve of your honest wish to wait until you are ready to submit to such an intimate encounter. I offer a couple of stories of Jesus for your consideration. One story concerns a paralyzed man who was carried to Jesus by his friends. You may find this at Mark 2:1-12 and at Luke 5:17-26. In this story, the faith that is remarkable belongs to the friends who put forth a coordinated effort to carry their friend up onto a roof, dig through the tiles and then lower him down through the ceiling. The other story, found at Matthew 15:21-28 and at Mark 7:24-30, concerns a woman of Syrophoenician origin who insisted that Jesus could heal her daughter. In this case, it is the woman's faith that is remarkable, not her daughter's. In my study of the stories of Jesus healing people, he almost always asks what a petitioner wants, except when the presence of the desire for healing is patently obvious. If you don't want your patella moved, unless and until you have further surgery, you are perfectly within your rights to refuse the offer of hands-on healing prayer. But be aware that your writing and sharing your thoughts about your disability makes you a wide-open target for the prayers of anyone who reads your column. I don't believe in a God who heals only the faithful. I believe in a God who makes incremental healing from suffering an opportunity to increase the sharing of love in the world.

– Katharine A. Hilliard, MD, Decatur

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