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April 25-May 2, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Letter No. 1

RE Steve Hahn's overview of S.B. 840 ("A cure for the Common Health-Care Crisis?, News&Views, March 28): I somehow believe that the governor sees the need for S.B. 840 and might even sign it if he can overcome any allegiancies he may have to the insurance industry as a result of their support for him during the recent election.

While this is a radical change in the delivery of healthcare and would pretty much eliminate an industry, conditions require a radical change and politicians should recognize just who they represent and who elects them.

The governor's bill seems to be patterned after the Massachusetts plan which is already having it's problems and has recently seen a rate increase. California's needs are not comparable to that of most other states due its geographical and population size. Let's get this done, once and for all!!

sidney cohn, ojai

Letter No. 2

MR. HAHN provides some of the best coverage that this bill has received. An additional detail is that the Lewin Goup has done a complete computer modeling of the proposal covering 10 years. No other health care reform proposal has this level of financial detail to back up it's legislative objectives.

The Lewin Group has over 25 years' experience in modeling healthcare financial studies. They prepared the 2004 comparison of the Kerry-Bush campaign healthcare proposals so they are nationally recognized experts.

As Marcia Angell, former New England Journal of Medicine editor, wrote in her New York Times commentary on Oct. 13, 2002, the private health insurers spend less then 75% of their premium dollars on health care while Medicare spends 97% of its funding dollars on healthcare. Government already spends 60% of the healthcare dollars in this country. Do you really think it is better to have those dollars go to private healthcare companies where only 75% of the funds is for patient care or through an expanded form of Medicare where 97% of the funds is for patient care? It will not affect your ongoing doctor care access.

The Romney-Massachusetts program is following the 75% model. We can do better in California.

Gerald W. Hunt, San Jose

Letter No. 3

LET'S contrast, for a kick, the laws regarding gun control versus the laws regarding (say, for instance) abortion, child pornography, drugs (your choice). All of the latter seem to fall into the realm of "moral" laws; that is, there seems to be a higher "purpose" or power (God) involved with the law itself. Guns, however, seem to be more of a secular situation. We are pretty much allowed to "kill" in self defense, and everyone knows when the "end times" come, we will all be pretty much on our own to fight for survival. I don't know where my argument is leading, but it is clear to me that until gun control legislation can be brought under some sort of "moral" umbrella, it will have no chance of passing.

John Duckworth, San Jose

Letter No. 4

WHAT a terrible tragedy has taken place at Virginia Tech. We usually think there is safety in numbers, but not on this occasion. This tragedy highlights the issue of campus violence nationwide. Security at many colleges is poor. It also appears that the authorities at Virginia Tech were slow to react to the danger. As a parent, this worries me, as I am sure it does thousands of parents around the country. Too many of our children are like sitting ducks, waiting to be shot by any fanatical gunman nursing a private grudge. Our colleges and universities are not the safe havens many people assume they are. A White Paper on campus violence issued by the American College Health Association in 2005 found a high rate of rapes, assaults, physical harassment, taunting, stalking, and suicide amongst students. The White Paper reported that between 1995 and 2002, college students ages 18-24, full-time and part-time at public and private institutions, were victims of approximately 479,000 violent crimes annually. Another problem was the underreporting of violent crimes. Following this tragedy at Virginia Tech, no doubt many will call for more gun control. I have a more radical solution. In this era of electronic technology, does there need to be a physical location for Virginia Tech, or for any college or university? Does there really need to be a UCLA or Columbia University campus? The answer is no. We do not need to have our children all crammed together at a brick-and-mortar college. We can offer online education for everyone. This presents an alternative form of education for those who are self-motivated, for stay-at-home parents, for those who need more flexible schedules, and also those who seek greater safety. Students enrolled in online education would be able to earn degrees at all levels, from associate degrees all the way to Ph.Ds, without having to set foot on any campus. In fact, they can buy all their textbooks online both the standard texts and e-texts; they can take all their tests, including their midterms and finals, online. A room in the students' homes or apartments could become not only their study but a virtual classroom, with thumbnail-size pictures or live video of all the students taking the same class across the country. If a student online wants to ask a question, they can receive the answer right away. The screen splits, with the professor on the left side of the screen and the student on the right side. Moreover, students online will be taught by professors, not a graduate student or teaching assistant as currently happens at the larger universities. Additionally, instead of being taught merely by an average professor, students could have a world-renowned professor of, say, anthropology, history, psychology, or any other discipline, teaching the class. Don't all students deserve to learn from the very best professors? With an online education, this is exactly what could happen. Additionally, since there is so much duplication at the collegiate level, in terms of buildings and departments, a large, statewide or even nationwide online university would save taxpayer money as well as protect our children's safety. Many of our colleges and university do offer online courses, but the vast majority do not offer degrees in which the student never has to set foot on campus. Here in California, maybe it's time for the entire higher education system, including the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and the California Community Colleges, to offer full degrees online.

Had an online education been in place at Virginia Tech, perhaps it might have saved the lives of some of those students who were killed in their classrooms. We need to be proactive. Let's not just mourn for a few days and then go back to business as usual. Let's take practical steps to reduce campus violence by reducing campuses themselves. We should establish an educational system suitable for the twenty-first century using all the resources of electronic technology in fully online universities. The tragedy at Virginia Tech was one too many. Let's implement my radical solution right now before we are shocked once again by newspaper headlines reporting yet another campus killing.~

Steve Mozena, Carson

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