Union Democrat staff

CSERC rebuttal

To the editor:

In Gil Fryer's latest letter, he attacks a previous writer for not getting "facts straight." Then Fryer himself misleads readers and spreads false information. Here are accurate facts:

• Local environmental groups have accepted every logging project in the Stanislaus National Forest for the past decade without a single appeal. Local environmentalists strongly support thinning logging as one tool for forest management.

• Fryer attacked letter-writer Rob Schaeffer for pointing out that SPI has clearcut thousands of acres of local forests. Schaeffer was accurate. SPI has clearcut thousands of acres and continues to clearcut this summer - sending logs to be milled elsewhere.

• Unlike Fryer's false claim, the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center has never worked with the John Muir Project organization - a group from outside the area that CSERC believes takes extremist positions. CSERC joined with the timber industry and the Forest Service in intervening against an appeal of a timber sale by that organization.

• In a previous letter, Fryer claimed that unless we have change, "all our forest will be destroyed by fire and all our wildlife will be destroyed with it." This is misleading rhetoric. Well-designed Forest Service fuels-reduction logging projects have reduced fire risk and improved forest health on thousands of acres around local communities in recent years. Local environmentalists have been instrumental, supporting the millions of board-feet of logging in those projects.

• When the housing market rebounds and demand for wood increases, environmentalists hope the local timber industry will also rebound - not with clearcutting, but with the positive thinning logging that the industry does so well.

John Buckley, executive director

Central Sierra Environmental

Resource Center

Twain Harte

Insurance questions

To the editor:

My mother is a cancer survivor. She did this with the help of some of the best doctors and medical facilities in the world (she lives in Los Angeles). She also did it as part of a government-run health care system: Medicare.

I, on the other hand, have been denied health insurance by insurance companies in the open market. Because of a pre-existing condition, my only option is to join the "high-risk pool," at a cost of about double the already exorbitant price of a high-deductible policy. I have declined to do this, not only because I can't afford it, but also because I do not trust the insurance companies to deliver on their promises at any price.

Opponents of health care reform would leave things basically as they are. They present a number of scary arguments in support of doing nothing:

• "Do you want faceless bureaucrats controlling your health care?" How is this different from an insurance company deciding who should get coverage and what procedures they will authorize?

• "Government-run health care will cost too much." The cost of doing nothing is more. The New America Foundation estimates that the yearly cost of employer-sponsored health insurance will increase 84 percent by 2016, to $24,000.

• "It's socialism!" And this is bad because...? We know that government can deliver quality health care because they're doing it now, for Medicare and the VA.

I've got a scary argument too: If some big changes aren't made, I won't be able to afford health insurance, no matter how much I earn and the first serious illness that I have will bankrupt me. How about you?

Greg Falken