Union Democrat staff

Edge of abyss

To the editor:

Private health insurance companies are spending millions of dollars in advertising to scare us regarding health care reform and for lobbying and campaign contributions to block reform. Why? To protect extraordinary profits.

In the last eight years, the top 10 health insurance companies increased their combined profits by 428 percent. In the same period premiums rose an average of 50 percent, growing numbers could no longer afford health insurance and many lost coverage when diagnosed with a serious illness or were denied coverage for questionable "pre-existing conditions" like acne. Many businesses feel forced to drop employee health coverage to cut costs.

Why isn't competition keeping premiums low? United Health raised premiums on my parents' prescription coverage to "cover drug cost increases," then announced a multi-billion dollar bonus for its CEO while resisting simple cost-cutting measures like streamlining billing procedures. What's with this?

The ballooning costs of our health care system are unsustainable to us as individuals and as a nation, threatening our economy. The banks brought us to the edge of the abyss. Let's not allow insurance companies put us over the edge. This is about America, not politics.

Other industrialized nations pay half what Americans pay for health coverage and their health statistics are better. Why not spend less and get more by switching to a cheaper, better system? Health care, like education, should not be about profits.

Congressman George Radanovich's Modesto office reports he plans to vote no on all health care reform, but cannot say what he favors. He will hold no public meetings to hear constituent concerns regarding healthcare reform. This is our representative in Congress.

Ellen Beck


Still smiling

To the editor:

It's been almost a week since I saw SRT's "Damn Yankees" at the Fallon Theater in Columbia and I'm still smiling. It goes without saying that anything with the incomparable Julie Ludlum in it is going to be great. Add John C. Brown to the mix and you've virtually won the lottery.

However Sierra Repertory Theatre's real magic comes from Scott Viets, whose direction and choreography breathe excitement, energy, and imagination into every scene. He gives as much attention to a one-line role as he does to the stars, and consistently and seamlessly stages shows that can rival anything seen in a big-city professional production. The word "awesome" is so overused these days that I make a point of never using it; however I can't seem to come up with a better way to describe the body of work we've been enjoying from Mr. Viets over the years.

Lucky SRT. Lucky us.

Iris Gardner


Greenley adjustments

To the editor:

The Sonora Plaza entrance/exit at Greenley Road is one of the most dangerous in Tuolumne County. Two adjustments need to be made to make it safer. First, change the one arrow and add a sign on the exit side that shows and says "Right Turn Only." Second, glue plastic posts on the double yellow line to block the already illegal, and there are many of these, left hand turns from Greenley Road and stop those people who still want to turn left out of Sonora Plaza. These two actions will make that highly congested section of Greenley Road considerably safer. In the meantime, the Sonora City police need to have an officer giving tickets to the multitude of people who are making that illegal left turn. The fines alone should pay for that officer and a few more.

Frank Cimino


Importance of music

To the editor:

The other day my musician neighbor brought me an article from what I assume is a music magazine. It was written by the principal of Albany High School, Ted Baron - a person about whom I know nothing except his job.

"We must fund music education," was his argument. "From the rhythm of our breathing as infants and the comforting lullabies that helped us sleep to the cacophony of our everyday lives, music is an essential factor in what defines us a human."

One would think that educators would take all this as "given" and make music an integral part of every school curriculum. But in most public schools it is listed only as an "option" and is not a "required" subject.

It should be. Music is a part of every day of our lives.

Mr. Barone points out that "music is all about creating neural networks and expanding the speed and capacity of the pathways that determine skill and memory. Memory is improved, processing speed is increased, and better, more sophisticated decisions are a result." He adds that "playing music cultivates a mind that is prepared to process and make sense of the rush of information and problems that have come to characterize the 21st century."

Mr. Barone says without equivocation that "music is a core subject. We can't cut funding for music any more than we can cut funding for math."

I agree.

Mary E. Kelly


Foolish statement

To the editor:

Our president has stated on national news: "Everyone who wants a job can find one."

Well, this man hasn't been to Tuolumne County, and I take offense at his comments. Many people here would like to find work, but with the mill closing and Gottschalks (where I was employed) and Mervyns gone, what makes him think we are not looking?

The only way we are able to find a job is to leave the county. Retail positions are limited here. So leaving to find work in other counties is going to happen, and that impacts this county in so many ways.

Instead of Obama making these foolish statements, he could improve the economy here by bringing new business to our county and getting us back to work.

Kim Couch