Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@okgazette. com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.
preserve affirmative action
Evidence shows that, on average, women earn nearly $10,000 less per year than their male counterparts in Oklahoma. It shows that the number of black and Hispanic students attending poorly resourced, lowperforming schools is nearly double that of white students in Oklahoma.
And these disparities are actually improvements.
Affirmative action programs were created to help decrease these inequities, as well as others, and combat discrimination against women and minorities. These programs have helped establish women’s clinics, domestic violence programs, breast cancer screening programs, higher education funding for minorities interested in medical and engineering fields, and for girls and women interested in technology and science fields. They have helped qualified students attend higher education institutions and qualified minorities and women find employment.
And instead of focusing on more ways to improve these disparities and create equal opportunity, Oklahoma elected officials are attacking the use of affirmative action with State Question 759, which sets out to prohibit state affirmative action programs in schools, employment, and state contracts. SQ 759 claims that affirmative action gives “preferred treatment based on race, color or gender” and a recent editorial in The Oklahoman goes as far as to refer to affirmative action programs as acts of reverse discrimination.
But this reasoning for the need to prohibit affirmative action fails to take into account the conditions that necessitated its creation. Affirmative action programs set out to increase the representation of minorities and women in the areas of education, employment and state contracts.
They set out to ensure neutrality when jobs are hiring, when schools are accepting. These programs do not set out to provide preferential treatment.
And procedures are in place to ensure that affirmative actions do not result in preferential treatment. Oklahoma has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to monitor such programs in the workplace.
Universities and colleges have equal opportunity offices, multicultural divisions, and people working to guarantee equal opportunity to all persons.
Prohibiting affirmative action programs in Oklahoma is a step in the wrong direction. By voting no on SQ 759 in November, Oklahoma has the opportunity to continue to improve disparities affecting minorities and women, and combat discrimination.
—Angela Hooks Bethany
Stop worrying, we’re not europe
As an American living abroad, and a former resident of Oklahoma, I have a unique perspective on news and events in the U.S. So, when I recently came back for a few weeks to visit family and friends, I was surprised to learn that President Obama’s “radical” agenda had so greatly transformed the United States that it had, in fact, become Europe.
I live in Austria, a country that has been ruled by socialists with only a few periods in opposition since 1945. Let me assure you all, the U.S. is not becoming Europe.
In Austria, health care is totally universal, financed by employers, workers and taxes. Seeing a physician is never a problem, as they recognize that it is both cost- and care-effective to provide care at a doctor’s office, rather than through an emergency room.
Unlike in the U.S., where skyrocketing health care costs previously threatened national bankruptcy, Austria’s health costs are well controlled, while providers are fairly compensated for their services. Doctors, not bureaucrats, are firmly in control of medical decisions.
Because of more effective and universal preventive care, Austrians live longer, suffer lower rates of disease and obesity, and pay less.
Finally, what does it say of conservatives’ faith in the idea of America that one president with an unfriendly Congress can totally transform the U.S. in just three years? Is one element of the nation’s greatness not found in its enduring and living Constitution? In the strength of its institutions?
—Andrew A. Kierig Salzburg, Austria
Mike Brake (Commentary, “Point: Disaster is ahead for Obamacare,” Aug. 8, Oklahoma Gazette) tells us that he doesn’t like government health care and that in Canada, with a government system that covers everyone, dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week while humans may have to wait two or three years.
Brake doesn’t mention that the Canadian dog will have to come up with thousands of dollars for the hip replacement while the human hip replacement is covered by the government program. Overall, the average Canadian is quite happy with the Canadian system. Brake could also have told us that every year thousands of Americans go to countries like Mexico and India for affordable, quality hip replacements and other medical procedures.
We need more affordable and equitable health care. Obamacare is a welcome first, but probably not last, move in that direction.
—John Downard Norman
pricey medicaid expansion
The letter from D.W. Tiffee (“Medicaid expansion vital,” Aug. 1, Gazette) uses some pretty shaky arguments and assumptions to make his point that Medicaid should be expanded.
Tiffee assumes that the money collected from hospitals in the form of a 2-percent provider fee will not be passed on to those using non-Medicaid forms of payment for hospital services. This assumption is ridiculous. Of course the hospitals will pass it on to their paying customers.
Tiffee and those who support his position believe that money from the federal government is like manna from heaven. However, the federal government can only borrow the money it will spend on expanded Medicaid from China, collect it from taxpayers, or fire up the printing presses. Federal government money sent to Oklahoma does not come from the Easter bunny or Santa Claus. It comes from taxpayers or consumers.
Tiffee misleads readers by reporting that in 2020 the expanded Medicaid program will cost Oklahoma $32 per person per month. I guess he assumes there will be no inflation over the next eight years. If inflation was reported honestly, I believe this cost will be at least 50 percent higher than the figure Tiffee reported. However, expecting honesty from the federal government is perhaps expecting too much.
If one uses Tiffee’s figures and assumes an 8-to-1 federal match, the cost per individual for Medicaid coverage would be $288 per month, not the $32 per month per covered individual that he asserts. That equals $3,656 per year for one person. For a Medicaid household of five persons, this would cost us $18,260 per year in taxes, debt or devalued currency.
Since 1964, we have spent more than $7 trillion in the “war on poverty” and we are no nearer to eliminating poverty. Continuing to dole out massive amounts for programs like Medicaid only encourages nonproductive behavior by an increasingly large segment of our population.
Why work when everything is free?
—Russell W. Jones Guthrie