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Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: Prostate Cancer and African-American Men; Don't Strip Tarot of its Magic; Tornadoes and Poverty; and Downsize That Soda!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prostate Cancer and African-American Men

Prostate cancer is no exception to the overall problem of disparate health outcomes in America: African-American men are twice as likely as their white counterparts to die of prostate cancer. And there are direct implications for the PSA screening controversy referred to in the June 7 article "The Silent Killer." It's only common sense that, even if PSA screening is inadvisable for the general population, as an important task force recently announced, the advice for subgroups dying at much higher rates could be quite different.

In its statement, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does acknowledge that disparities exist, but by dismissing the trend with the standard line, "We need more research," the Task Force adds insult to injury.

Aron P. Goldman
The Springfield Institute

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Don't Strip Tarot of its Magic

In regard to the May 31 cover story on the Tarot ("Tarot Unplugged"): I am unclear why, in order to build up Ms. Cushing's introspective, narrative-therapeutic method, the writer feels it necessary to tear down intuitive readers along the way, with a statement in the headline setting up a straw man and a reference in the narrative to the stereotyped figure of a headscarf-wearing gypsy. The writer does a strange pussyfooted dance step around the idea that the cards have a divinatory meaning, even though he comes back to it in his discussion of the Death card in the article's closing passages.

I am trying to figure out what the aim of this article is, short of being a commercial for Cushing. If you are trying to sell Tarot to the skeptic, as if you were soft-pedaling a candidate to the mythical "undecided voter," most people who think Tarot is wack are still going to think it is wack after reading this article. In your efforts to strip out all the magic and the unknowns that make it compelling, you have managed to inflict a general insult on many fine intuitive readers, as well as their clients, who are another faction of your audience.

It is actually possible to write an article about the introspective and therapeutic aspects of a Tarot reading without having to create a dummy figure to get your point across, as though you were embarrassed at your own subject and that was the only way you could handle it.

Two of thumbs, reversed.

Laura Marjorie Miller
via Internet

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Tornadoes and Poverty

In response to Maureen Turner's story about a rebuilding plan in Springfield following last year's tornadoes ("City of Whose Homes?" May 31), I say the state and federal government is a big part of the problem. The real long-term problem is unemployment. Gov. Patrick, President Obama and the Democratic and Republican parties created the unemployment through outsourcing, free trade agreements, runaway immigration and a refusal to enforce what paltry immigration laws we have.

The Amanda Street area has been mostly rebuilt. Those people had jobs and insurance. Some are retired with accumulated assets in the form of savings and pensions. The people in Six Corners do not, so it is not rebuilt. We have been treated to stories about 98 percent of the insurance claims being settled. That means an absentee landlord got his money. It does not mean that he decided to rebuild the building. Would you build a building for unemployed people who may not be able to pay your rent while the banks, insurance companies and the city want you to pay their fees?

But local activist Michaelann Bewsee is right: more and more of the educated are joining the ranks of the unemployed. There is not much the city can do about it. Mayor Sarno is also right: Springfield does more than its share in funding for the poor. But what Sarno will not do is blame his Republicrat buddies in state and national government for the problem.

For that matter, even the so-called reform groups around town go light on blaming the Republicrats. They may march around outside their offices and generate publicity for both parties, but they will not tell the voters to give them the boot.

No one wants to move. But there are some five-story buildings with many units which were destroyed. They cannot be replaced. The city would not allow a building like that for families today; they had been grandfathered in. One of those buildings may be replaced by a couple of two-family units. The rest of the tenants have got to move.

But the real cause of the problem is the poverty caused by the Republicrats. Without that poverty, many of the tornado victims would have the resources to help themselves, reducing those who need longterm help to a more manageable number.

Robert Underwood
via Internet

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Downsize That Soda!

New York City mayor Bloomberg's decision to ban supersized sugary sodas has resurrected the age-old debate over the role of the state in protecting the public health. In recent years, this debate involved bicycle helmets, car seat belts, tobacco, trans fats, saturated fats in meat and dairy products, and sugar (or more aptly, high-fructose corn syrup). Public subsidies for tobacco, meat and dairy, and corn production added fuel to the debate.

I would argue that society has a right to regulate activities that impose a heavy burden on the public treasury. National medical costs of dealing with our obesity epidemic, associated with consumption of meat, dairy products and sugars, are estimated at $190 billion.

Eliminating subsidies for these products, as well as judicious taxation to reduce their use and recoup public costs, should be supported by health advocates and fiscal conservatives alike.

Benjamin Franklin claimed that nothing is certain except death and taxes. Ironically, death can be deferred substantially by taxing products that make us sick.

Eli Ingleson
Easthampton

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