I believe I have mentioned all that is worth remembering of my proceedings in the House. But their enumeration, even if complete, would give but an inadequate idea of my occupations during that period, and especially of the time taken up by correspondence. For many years before my election to Parliament, I had been continually receiving letters from strangers, mostly addressed to me as a writer on philosophy, and either propounding difficulties or communicating thoughts on subjects connected with logic or political economy. In common, I suppose, with all who are known as political economists, I was a recipient of all the shallow theories and absurd proposals by which people are perpetually endeavouring to show the way to universal wealth and happiness by some artful reorganization of the currency. When there were signs of sufficient intelligence in the writers to make it worth while attempting to put them right, I took the trouble to point out their errors, until the growth of my correspondence made it necessary to dismiss such persons with very brief answers. Many, however, of the communications I received were more worthy of attention than these, and in some, oversights of detail were pointed out in my writings, which I was thus enabled to correct. Correspondence of this sort naturally multiplied with the multiplication of the subjects on which I wrote, especially those of a metaphysical character. But when I became a member of parliament, I began to receive letters on private grievances and on every imaginable subject that related to any kind of public affairs, however remote from my knowledge or pursuits. It was not my constituents in Westminster who laid this burthen on me: they kept with remarkable fidelity the understanding on which I had consented to serve. I received, indeed, now and then an application from some ingenuous youth to procure for him a small government appointment; but these were few, and how simple and ignorant the writers were, was shown by the fact that the applications came in about equally whichever party was in power. My invariable answer was, that it was contrary to the principles on which I was elected to ask favours of any Government. But, on the whole, hardly any part of the country gave me less trouble than my own constituents. The general mass of correspondence, however, swelled into an oppressive burthen.
Note from KBJ: I wonder why Mill felt compelled to reply to correspondents. It's one thing if you receive an occasional letter (as I do); it's quite another when you're bombarded with letters (as Mill was).
The Republican establishment hates conservatives. It is trying to ram Mitt Romney down our throats. What is a conservative to do? The establishment believes that conservatives will vote for Romney as the lesser of two evils. Don't fall for it. Stay home on election day; let Barack Obama serve another term; and await a true conservative (e.g., Sarah Palin) in 2016. If you reward the establishment by electing its anointed candidate, you will never get a true conservative.
“The Third Jihad” is being unjustly represented as anti-Muslim. The film is narrated by a devout American Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. It explicitly states: “This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are radical.”
Unfortunately, the article’s implications are stifling honest debate about alarming trends within some Muslim communities.
After viewing the film, New York City’s lone Muslim council member, Robert Jackson, commented: “I initially thought from reading about it that it cast a negative image on all Muslims throughout the world. In my opinion it does not. It focuses on the extreme Muslims that are trying to hurt other people.”
News that more than 1,400 officers were exposed to a hateful anti-Islam film during New York Police Department training—a film that Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly now admits being interviewed for—is a disgrace and threatens to damage the trust that local precincts and Muslim communities work hard to build.
The N.Y.P.D. could have avoided this embarrassment by cooperating with Muslim community leaders and elected officials who last winter called for an investigation of “The Third Jihad” screening and an open review of Islam-oriented training materials. Instead, the department shrugged off the request, saying the issue was already addressed and surprisingly claiming that it “did not participate in [the film’s] production.”
These events, coupled with recent revelations about the N.Y.P.D.’s surveillance of law-abiding Muslim communities, call into question the top brass’s respect for civil liberties and underscore the need for greater public oversight of law enforcement. Communities want to be protected, not profiled.
ASIM REHMAN V.P., Muslim Bar Assn. of New York Brooklyn, Jan. 25, 2012
Dr. Emanuel is correct that no Americans, including liberals, can ignore escalating health care costs. Unfortunately, this is exactly what he and the rest of the Obama administration did in passing the Affordable Care Act.
To obtain the cooperation of important stakeholders—the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and major pharmaceutical companies—in achieving the laudable goal of expanding coverage, our dysfunctional, inefficient and exceedingly expensive system was left intact.
Now we must do the heavy lifting of actually fixing America’s health care system by carrying out structural improvements that will, by their very nature, reduce the incomes of many powerful health care constituencies. This reform effort is the struggle upon which history will judge President Obama’s health care initiatives, for, if we fail, America will not only be unable to afford the expanded coverage of the new health care law, but we will also be unable to continue Medicare or Medicaid as we know them.
JAMES B. RICKERT Bloomington, Ind., Jan. 23, 2012
The writer is an orthopedic surgeon.
To the Editor:
Ezekiel J. Emanuel chooses to assign liberals with controlling costs in health care, when he should be waving his finger at the health care sector. When “skyrocketed” health care costs come up, profit never makes it into the discussion or calculations.
Dr. Emanuel should remember, too, that many liberals wanted the cost-saving, improved Medicare-for-all system to be included in Senator Max Baucus’s committee hearings. Sadly, the cabal made sure that its proponents got no seat at the table.
H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, would have cut out unnecessary administrative costs, given Americans real choice in their health care, and dissolved the employment-benefits contract that keeps us an indentured labor force. These are factors that both liberals and conservatives should be able to support.
BARBARA COMMINS San Francisco, Jan. 22, 2012
The writer is a registered nurse.
To the Editor:
Ezekiel J. Emanuel suggests that liberals “ignore costs.” He doesn’t seem to recognize that many conservatives oppose the payment reform proposals in the Affordable Care Act. Remember the outcry about “death panels”?
Moreover, it should not be a given that insurers should continue to consume a large fraction of the health care dollar.
There are many good options for payment reform not included in the health care law. We need a wider discussion on how care is paid for, and how everyone can have access to care in a way that is more efficient, safer and better.
Our government should not write off the possibility of single-payer (which it has so far, largely because of conservative opposition). Those are liberal ideas, and they do not mean that costs should be ignored.
BRUCE L. WILDER Pittsburgh, Jan. 22, 2012
The writer is a neurosurgeon and a lawyer.
To the Editor:
When it comes to health services, liberals care about costs but also have a sense of history. In the 1960s, the United States had arguably the best health care in the world despite the usual suspects abusing the system. Then there was the steady power grab by the health maintenance organizations and pharmaceuticals that turned health care into an industry rather than a human right.
Eliminate the greed-driven, corrupt and often incompetent middlemen, and costs will plummet.
CAROL SANJOUR Brooklyn, Jan. 22, 2012
The writer is a clinical psychologist.
To the Editor:
Ezekiel J. Emanuel cites many adverse economic effects of American health care but exhibits a blind spot for a potentially catastrophic hazard of reform. Health care is enormously labor-intensive. A reform that reduces health care’s percentage of gross domestic product to Germany’s 10.5 percent or Britain’s 8.7 percent from the American 17 percent inevitably reduces employment by as much or more.
Many hundreds of thousands of hospital nurses, technologists, administrators, secretaries and doctors become unemployed or must find new positions. One does not simply free 6.5 to 8.3 percent of G.D.P. for other purposes; it disappears.
Moreover, those losing jobs cannot simply be reprogrammed instantly to support education or some other virtuous purpose; their skills are obsolete.
Thus, the demand for government programs to support the unemployed and prematurely retired will increase enormously. If advocates for health care reform continue to ignore this issue, any success they have will only undermine our economy in the future.
NATHANIEL REICHEK Roslyn, N.Y., Jan. 22, 2012
The writer is a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University.
The legal rights of nonhuman animals might first be achieved in any of three ways. Most agree that the least likely will be through the re-interpretation or amendment of state or federal constitutions, or through international treaties. For example, the Treaty of Amsterdam that came into force on May 1, 1999, formally acknowledged that nonhuman animals are “sentient beings” and not merely goods or agricultural products. The European Community and the member states signatory to the treaty are required “to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals.” In 2002 the German Parliament amended Article 26 of the Basic Law to give nonhuman animals the right to be “respected as fellow creatures” and to be protected from “avoidable pain.” Half of the sixteen German states already have some sort of animal rights provisions in their constitutions.
In the United States, most believe that gaining personhood is much more probable through legislative enactment than through a constitutional change. But a change in the common law (which Germany does not have) may be the most likely of all. What is the common law? Lemuel Shaw, the nineteenth century chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, provided this good definition: it “consists of a few broad and comprehensive principles, founded on reason, natural justice, and enlightened public policy, modified and adapted to all the circumstances of all the particular cases that fall within it.”
Why the common law over legislation? The common law is created by English-speaking judges while in the process of deciding cases. Unlike legislators, judges are at least formally bound to do justice. Properly interpreted, the common law is meant to be flexible, adaptable to changes in public morality, and sensitive to new scientific discoveries. Among its chief values are liberty and equality. These favor common law personhood, as a matter of liberty, at least for those nonhuman animals, such as chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, dolphins, and whales, who possess such highly advanced cognitive abilities as consciousness, perhaps even self-consciousness; a sense of self; and the abilities to desire and act intentionally. In other words, they have what I call a “practical autonomy,” which is, I argue, sufficient, though not necessary, for basic legal rights. An animal’s species is irrelevant to his or her entitlement to liberty rights; any who possesses practical autonomy has what is sufficient for basic rights as a matter of liberty. And as long as society awards personhood to non-autonomous humans, such as the very young, the severely retarded, and the persistently vegetative, then it must also award basic rights, as a matter of equality as well, to nonhuman animals with practical autonomy.
Michelle Malkin has come out in favor of Rick Santorum. I respect that. I prefer Santorum to Mitt Romney and would support Santorum over Romney if Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race. The main reason I support Gingrich (rather than Santorum) is that Gingrich is a better debater. We need someone who can (and will) take it to Barack Obama. We tried the Mr Nice Guy approach in 2008. Where did it get us?
Funny, when Exxon Mobil Corp. reported quarterly earnings of more than $13 billion a quarter in 2008, those profits were called "obscene." In fact, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama called for a windfall profit tax to prevent Exxon from grossly profiting from America's addiction to oil. Given Apple Inc.'s earnings of $13.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 ("Apple Sets New Bar for Industry," Technology, Jan. 25) where is the call for a windfall profits tax to prevent Apple from grossly profiting from America's addiction to smart phones and nifty electronic gadgets?