Gettin' Hot in the Kitchen

Letters published July 12, 2001

Politicians have no use for the homeless:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know by now: President Bush is a heartless businessman who caters to wealthy industrialists. That's been obvious since he announced he would run. Laura Putre's article ["Starved for Attention, June 7] did not succeed in revealing anything new. However, by resorting to personal attacks on Bush and tugging on our heartstrings with the poignant words of Sister Corita Ambro, the article did succeed at one thing: reinforcing the stereotype that we liberals are a bunch of bleeding-heart propagandists who will sink to any level to gain sympathy for the underdog, primarily as a means of drawing attention to ourselves.

Reality-check time. Shortchanging the homeless and the hungry is not a George W. Bush thing. It's a politician thing. Do you really think Al Gore or Ralph Nader would have spent more time and effort at the shelter? Even as a diehard Nader supporter, I think not. Politicians, even the most liberal, don't care about the poorest of the poor, because the poorest of the poor usually don't vote. So congratulations; Putre has revealed what everyone with half a brain has known since age 12: that to the government and the community as a whole, the homeless and hungry simply do not matter.

Eric Jones

Fuzzy regulations make for bad medicine:

Your June 14 issue has an excellent article ["The Doctor Will Screw You Now"] on the worst excesses in the medical industry. As an outside counsel to one of the state's largest health insurers, I assisted that company's "fraud squad" in the successful prosecution of and civil recovery from many unscrupulous medical providers.

Unfortunately, the cover of your issue suggests the problem is endemic to the entire medical industry, while the article catalogs only the sins of a few. The article does focus on the federal government's strong expansion into the pursuit of those who defraud the health care system, but it neglects to note the flip side of that issue.

The government is responsible for the creation of an unbelievably complex set of regulations, most of which are subject to multiple interpretations and, as a consequence, the legitimate pursuit of economic enrichment by those determining to choose the interpretation that benefits the provider.

However, the bureaucracy -- in order to justify its existence and linear expansion -- has now criminalized what once were simply legitimate issues of business disagreement over the interpretation of complex accounting rules.

Most doctors and hospitals are thoroughly honest, and even many of those who have been charged by the feds with "fraud" are nothing more than legitimate economic actors taking advantage of a confusing morass of ever-expanding regulatory schemes. Witness the bludgeoning of scores of Ohio hospitals that settled -- under the duress of federal threats -- multimillion-dollar claims during the last few years.

If the federal government spent more of its resources on streamlining its regulatory schemes, writing clear regulations, and prosecuting only in egregious cases (such as some of those you catalog), rather than the wholesale pursuit of the entire industry when it misinterprets a fuzzy guideline, there would be tens of millions of dollars freed for the industry, the government, and society as a whole to spend on the health care needs of the uninsured population.

Kenneth F. Seminatore, Esq.
Rocky River

Wilonsky rankles a survivor's kin:

This letter is in response to Robert Wilonsky's review of the film Pearl Harbor [May 24]. Constructive and deliberate criticism that's informative is important; I did not read that this time around. This review was not objective enough. Use of the word "porn" in the review is inappropriate (check your dictionary). There is nothing pornographic about WWII, and I really don't think the film's director and producer intended this at all.

There are other elements of the film, such as cinematography, makeup, and character development (Alec Baldwin and Kate Beckinsale), that were well done. I was privileged to have seen Pearl Harbor ahead of the public rush, and I know much about Pearl Harbor and WWII, as I am directly related to a survivor. It's been 60 years now, so step aside and let researchers and dramatic license commingle a little more.

Anne M. Homitz