Letters to the editor: Sept. 24, 2017

Re: Sept. 17 commentary, “Sanders’ drug plan puts Texas patients, companies in peril.”

I read the commentary by Russell Withers. Typical dialog of big pharma, a group of corporations who seem to think they can pick prices out of the air. Oh yes, the free market will solve this. My question is how? The doctor writes a prescription, then you take it to the pharmacy and get it filled. Can you refuse it? Can you bargain for a better price? Unlikely! This is much like medical care. How can the free market solve this? It is not a free market commodity.

As consumers, we can somewhat control pricing in the free market by not buying. So, the free market folks have decided that the free market will solve drug and medical care costs. I guess we could say, “Oh, I won’t buy that life-saving drug.” Or refuse a hospital visit because it is too expensive. Isn’t that the way the free market works?


In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the news is rightfully focused on community-rebuilding questions: How do states manage massive cleanup and rebuilding? How do we relocate people who lost homes?

These questions are crucial, yet they’re about doing. When disaster strikes, Americans are great at swinging into action to help people “overcome adversity.”

What Americans are not good at is helping with painful emotions. Harvey and Irma wreaked inconceivable losses — of loved ones, businesses, and homes, and of basic senses of safety, control, and protection. Sloppy, long-lasting grief is the natural, healing response to staggering loss. When supported, grief generates healing and growth. Disregarded, grief leads to isolation, shame and illness.

As a mental health professional and loss survivor, I raise these also-crucial questions: How can we support the grieving of hurricane survivors? Can we garner the courage to comfort those who suffer? For as long as it takes?


I’m ill today, scared to death on behalf of all of my patients who will suffer under Graham-Cassidy. I’m distraught reading thousands of stories of people who will lose their coverage under Graham-Cassidy. I’m horrified that anyone in this country would prioritize anything over the lives of their fellow Americans.

Our senators must vote No on Graham-Cassidy.


Re: Sept. 20th letter to the editor, “Wrong to link Harvey to climate change” and Sept. 9 commentary, “My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith’s letter to the editor just confirms the validity of his critics in the op-ed “My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen.” Lamar referred to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as having “low confidence” that storms are increasing in frequency or intensity and that “scientists concerned with uncovering the truth know to examine trends over time.” The IPCC fifth assessment report states:

• “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”

• “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.”

• Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100 percent probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010

This is what scientists found by examining trends over time.


Re: Sept. 17 commentary, “Taxing districts can stop sticker shock by collaborating.”

Your editorial advocating for collaboration between local taxing entities only allows for them to take turns soaking us.

The real question to be asked is why does an increase in property values of say, 10 percent, entitle our local taxing jurisdictions to feel entitled to increase their budgets by a like amount? Where is the correlation between an increase in property values and the needs of local government?

Local officials can claim they have held the line on tax rates and still allow for an increase in their budgets equal to property value increases. The property tax system is a shell game. Local taxing authorities can hold the line on taxes by resisting using rising property values as an excuse for raising our taxes. Public disclosure of property sales is also a missing piece of the equation.


Re: Sept. 19 letter to the editor, “Statistics don’t prove warming, hurricane link.”

Responding to a prior letter to the editor on climate change: “Lastly, the 97 percent number of scientists was obtained by abstract counting … dogma, not science.”

A journal article did indeed count studies about climate change, finding those in which the role of humans was denied or minimized to be less than 3 percent. Six independent studies have corroborated those results. The most telling feature of that minority is the absence of consensus for an alternate theory. There is simply no alternate proposal that holds up to scrutiny. We should now dedicate ourselves to seeking consensus for a response.

I favor competitive markets. Carbon fee and dividend policy can address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and also stimulate Texas economic activity. Economists too are in consensus. Pricing carbon emissions is the best first step to curb further change and reducing risk to a stable climate that supports our economy and our current and future well-being.


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