Letters to the editor
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Randy congressmen should consider their actions
While I am pleased that the House has finally passed a health-care reform bill, I am outraged that so many representatives supported the Stupak amendment ("House Passes Health Care," Nov. 8).
Although many Catholics are citizens of the United States, the Catholic Church is not; nor are other religious and political bodies that oppose abortion. Individuals are free not to have abortions, but no one can commandeer another person's body for their theological or other reasons. The contempt for women behind this amendment was evident in some representatives' despicable hooting down of female colleagues who had the floor and tried to speak.
Many of the men who are most adamant about restricting women's reproductive rights have shown little ability to control their own lust, yet they want to saddle women with the consequences. I suggest that if abortion is to be put out of reach, particularly for poor women, those men who rallied to the Stupak amendment be sterilized. That would be a small number of randy men who cannot contribute to any woman's need for abortion.
LIANE ELLISON NORMAN
Vets deserve a crowd
Pittsburgh celebrated Veterans Day the way many cities across the country celebrated -- with a parade to honor our veterans.
The parade route traveled past my office building on the Boulevard of the Allies. I started to watch it from a conference room window, as I did for both the Steelers and Penguins parades. For those parades, I chose to stay inside rather than struggle with the thousands of spectators on the sidewalk.
I was saddened when I saw the meager number of spectators gathered to pay respect and honor our local veterans. There were no children on parents' shoulders to get a better view; nobody pushing their way through the crowd to get to the front row; nobody screaming and cheering as veterans walked and rode by. After a few minutes, I went outside to watch from the sidewalk.
Not everyone can leave their jobs to watch a parade for more than an hour, but coming out for even a few minutes to pay respect to the veterans would have meant so much to them.
As I watched them go by -- many in wheelchairs, using canes or riding in buses and cars, I thought of the sacrifices these men and women made for me. They sacrificed their lives for my freedom; they ensured the freedom that we all have today.
I know the veterans appreciated the spectators who were there -- many thanked us as they went by. One Vietnam veteran waved and said, "Thank you for coming out." I responded, "No, thank you for what you did." Our veterans need to hear that.
Bridges to Braddock
So the 80 percent of "Braddock residents" who don't go to UPMC Braddock hospital aren't just from Braddock, to no surprise ("Braddock Usage Rate Disputed," Oct. 31). Why? Half of its territory must be across the Mon. Over there, choosing a UPMC facility is probably more a matter of choosing bridges.
Kennywood looks across to Braddock, but if you live there, will you deal with the Rankin Bridge, especially now at half capacity, or zip upriver on Route 837 to the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge (no traffic lights!) to McKeesport? Or from Homestead, stay on 837 to get to Shadyside via the Homestead High-Level Bridge or Oakland via the Hot Metal Bridge. (Footnote: Accessing Braddock via the Tri-Boro Expressway? It's been closed since summer -- you'll opt for McKeesport, too.)
Regardless of where you live, the biggest affront to us all is the 53-unit senior citizens apartment being built adjacent to the hospital. Four county and state agencies, which were doubtlessly lured by UPMC Braddock's facelift, are among those funding it. Our tax dollars are going to units that will have no appeal if the Braddock hospital ceases to exist! No wonder County Executive Dan Onorato is steamed.
And then, UPMC's advertising budget is surely apportioned across all of its units. What is Braddock's share? Has UPMC promoted UPMC Braddock?
I need no bridges to get to Braddock. I've had a colonoscopy and a finger stitched back together there. They took very nice care of me, and I parked (free!) almost at the front door. UPMC's hierarchy should be bright enough to see that a big source of UPMC Braddock's utilization woes will soon be cured and stop insulting our intelligence with their explanations.
A distinct line
In response to Robert J. Gerenyi's Nov. 11 letter ("Selfish Stance") in which he referred to tea party protesters as "selfish," I think Mr. Gerenyi is a bit confused as to the definition of the word.
The desire to keep the product of one's own labor is the furthest thing from selfishness; it's called the American way. A more correct definition of selfishness is one person laying the claim on another person's wealth without having earned it for themselves. If it isn't lawful for you to walk into your neighbor's house and take his money for your own use, what makes it any more ethical to elect legislators to do it for you?
I believe Mr. Gerenyi and I would agree that we are obligated to be a charitable people, as any "God-fearing" person should be. But there is a distinct line between charity and coercion. Reaching into my own pocket to give to my fellow man is charity; the government reaching into my pocket and handing it to my neighbor under the threat of force is coercion. The forced redistribution of wealth from one group to another for specialized welfare stands against everything the Founders believed.
As for the "quid pro quo" of trading war for health care, both are being funded by borrowed money. We are all obligated to balance our own checkbooks, so should the government. But then again, when has the government ever been expected to play by the same rules the rest of us do?
KYLE D. YAKOPOVICH
Where does it end?
Regarding Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's plan to tax the students for the lack of funds in the city's coffers to pay for underfunded pensions ("Mayor Says He'll Pursue 1 Percent Higher-Ed Tax," Nov. 9): I am a lifelong resident of the Pittsburgh area with a deep love for the city, but I am sick and tired of the fleecing of my pockets.
May I remind the mayor that part of Pittsburgh's problem is that we don't retain our young people after graduation? The very people with limited incomes are the very people he wants to tax ... or their overworked, underpaid parents who are having trouble making ends meet.
Drink taxes, student taxes: When are the city and county governments going to take a hard look at themselves and realize you can't get blood from a rock? We're tapped out.
I'm to the point where I'm looking at moving not just out of this area but out of state. If this keeps up, the mayor won't have much of a population to tax ... or to vote incompetency back into office.
The fiscally irresponsible Democrats have been in power for so long that they can't comprehend that the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh finds it necessary to close some branches, and now the officials of an almost bankrupt city with an underfunded pension are giving advice. Imagine that.
TIMOTHY M. BRIDGEMAN
Sugary drinks wreak havoc in the mouth
Even before swallowing your juice ("Gulp! All That Sugar in Your Juice Could Be Bad Medicine," Nov. 9), sugary beverages, such as juice, pose a threat to one's oral health. As many are aware, fruit juice's high sugar content combined with bacteria in the mouth produce acid that causes tooth decay and cavities.
In addition, the already highly acidic juice can cause tooth erosion, which is the chemical wearing of the tooth structure. This can lead to tooth sensitivity, discoloration and potentially irreversible damage. Simply put, reducing your intake of juice will benefit both your overall health and oral health.
Besides limiting juice consumption, simple steps also can be taken to help protect your teeth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, drinking with a straw, rinsing your mouth with water and chewing sugar-free gum will all help minimize the effects of consuming acidic drinks.
The writer is a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.
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First Published November 16, 2009 12:00 am