Now that Micheal Moore has opened our eyes in his new documentary Sicko ("The Provocateur," issue of June 27), I suppose boatloads of Americans will begin washing up on Cuba's shores for "free" healthcare. That's about as ridiculous as Moore pointing to Social Security and the U.S. mail as models of efficient government services.
Sicko shows all the signs of another Moore documentary that selects certain facts to construct a distorted truth. His movie just wouldn't work if he interviewed people coming from Canada to the U.S. to pay for operations necessary to save their lives, operations that have dangerously long waiting lists in Canada.
I'm sure he doesn't mention the breakdowns in British health care, where doctors are actively pushing for privitization. Americans would be apalled by the length of time Europeans regularly wait in the emergency room for help. In France 14,000 people died of heat stroke in 2003 after hospitals told people to fend for themselves. In Germany, most of their health care has been turned over to private enterprise.
Shouldn't we look at the failing state-run health care of so many countries as an example of what not to do? Our system is certainly flawed and needs fixing.
Handing it over to Big Brother is not a fix.
— Jeff Kramer, Downtown
No Vaccines Is Dangerous
Bethany Rawlins' article "Raising Vaccine-Free Kids" (Summer Renewal Guide, issue of June 20) was both misinformed and irresponsible. Her sibling's autism is merely a coincidence — no reputable research has found any link between vaccination and any health effect beyond extremely infrequent bad reactions, which can be easily treated.
The claimed vaccine/ autism link is based on a single paper marked by both a significant flaw and a serious ethical lapse. The flaw was a small sample size, since corrected in numerous studies, all of which found no link. More telling is that the lead author of the study was paid nearly $1 million by a group of trial lawyers who wanted to find the results he published. Ten of the 13 authors retracted their interpretations of the paper, and the lead author has been accused of scientific misconduct as a result.
Rawlins' subsequent points on toxic contents are all similarly flawed: No link has been found between thimerosal and any disease, and its removal was purely precautionary. The aluminum content of any vaccine is far too small to have any effect on future Alzheimer's, especially compared to the large quantities used daily by many people in their deodorant. Formaldehyde, while toxic in large quantities, is also naturally present in the body as the end-product of various metabolic processes.
Most egregious, however, is her flawed logic concerning the danger that her decision poses not only to her children but others as well. Vaccines are never 100 percent effective, but if enough people are effectively vaccinated the population gains "herd immunity" due to the lack of a sufficent "resevoir" for a disease to persist. However, should the proportion of immune individuals drop below a given threshold — dictated by the epidemiology of the particular pathogen — the disease will reappear, attacking both those who refused vaccination and those whose vaccinations did not provide permanent immunity.
A powerful example of the dangers of Rawlins' views is found in Boulder, Colo., where nearly half of the children at one school remain unvaccinated. Since the beginning of this anti-vaccination trend, whooping cough (pertussis) has made a comeback to the tune of 81 cases per year, nine times the national average. In several cases, the infected children have died.
Worse still, half of the infections in Boulder occur among children who were vaccinated but whose immune system did not develop permanent resistance. As if that weren't enough, the pertussis rates in surrounding counties are also rising due to the resevoir of infected hosts in Boulder.
The decision not to vaccinate is both foolish and selfish. Based on flawed data and unfounded fears, parents who don't vaccinate are putting not only their own children at risk but also the entire community.
When enough people fall victim to this paranoia, the entire community suffers, including those who took precautionary measures. Think of the community as a whole and do the right thing: Vaccinate your children.
— Henry Astley University of Cincinnati
Department of Biological Sciences
Messing With Kids' Minds
The response generated by CityBeat's placing the quote "Ignorance Is a Form of Terrorism" on the cover of the issue about the opening of the Creation Museum (Letters, issue of June 20) sent me to the dictionary. Being damned for not completely swallowing whole a complicated story that has no factual basis (Genesis story in The Bible) would seem like a "tyranny" over the mind, for starters.
My trusty old Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines "terror" as "intense, sharp, overmastering fear" and "terrorism" as "the use of terrorizing methods to produce a state of fear and submission." Unfortunately, due to our present world situation, the word "terrorism" now engenders a picture of suicide bombers and other outrageous means to zap lives in huge numbers.
This terrorism is totally based on fear for one's physical safety. But in the broader sense, engendering fear for a soul's well-being is also terrorism and unfortunately the principle stock-in-trade for too many houses of worship.
What surprises me is that none of your readers have entertained the notion that juvenile attendees might not one day grow up and sue the museum or those who took them there for deception, messing with their minds and interfering with their education. I know that I would want to.
My seventh grade homeroom teacher, who was also our science teacher, responded to a student's question by saying that, as best as could be ascertained, the world was 6,000 years old. I had no reason to doubt her, since she was also my Sunday School Superintendent in a church where the minister had said that we should give the Bible writers slack when it came to science since they did the best could given the lack of advancement of science at the time they wrote. She was also a graduate of one of the best colleges a woman could attend at the time as the Ivy League schools for the most part excluded women.
It took me decades before I realized that the unfathomable mess in my mind with history dates — further complicated later when children went gaga over dinosaurs — was all due to having been lied to at an age when I was too young not to believe what an authority figure said. By now, the teacher has probably gone to her reward and I'm too far away from the school system to give it a piece of my mind, but I would certainly like to.
The good part is that I can finally relish science about the origin of our planet and am excited about the role DNA is destined to play in learning about our origins. May future generations not be deprived of these wonders as I was.
— Ann M. Black,
Save the Day Laborers
Kudos to Margo Pierce and CityBeat for another excellent piece of investigative reporting. You exposed the seamy side of working in Cincinnati: day laborers treated like rubbish because their employers can get away with it ("All in a Day's Work," issue of June 6).
Where else would people have to arrive at 4 a.m. for work that might start at 10, pay $6 for a ride to get there, do back-breaking labor for a minimum wage and still not earn enough to afford both food and a roof overhead?
People with few skills who are trying to earn a legal living should get at least an even shot at doing it and not be treated like serfs. What are our lawmakers doing about this?
— Kathy Helmbock, Oakley