CLASS-BASED SEGREGATION

Fine piece, Mr. Hutchinson (“Truly Sick,” March 16).

We cannot be reminded often enough that, in addition to Medicaid, it has been the Republican priority to either privatize or eliminate altogether Medicare, Social Security and public education since their inception. (Regarding public education, that goal is being realized in the form of tax revenue intended for public education increasingly being diverted to charter schools: outsourced, privatized, corporate entities, often religious, often with disproportionately excessive executive pay.)

But my question is, how is Medicaid not institutionalized health care apartheid? Is there another developed nation on the planet that “means tests” its citizens for the quality of health care services? Is it not entirely immoral that the least empowered among us receive lesser care based solely on economic standing? American exceptionalism, indeed.

Anyone who believes that health care is a basic human right, especially in a resource-rich nation such as ours, should be appalled; not just by our class-based segregation of life-essential services, but, more so, by the very real prospect of its elimination altogether — the inevitable outcome of so-called block grants — by the Republican Party that lied its way into office in no small part for its commitment to Medicaid’s preservation.

~  DANA ANDERSON, VIA EMAIL

ACTIVISM IS CRUCIAL

The Earth’s ecosphere and our civilization have been in great peril and in desperate need of our help for quite some time. This situation is direr now than ever before, considering the Trump administration’s multiple assaults upon the environment and the very agencies and laws which were established in order to protect it! The ecosphere, also referred to as “The Web of Life,” is that which makes it possible for us to exist. It is the only source of all the things we must have in order to stay alive, such as food, drinkable water and oxygen. In order to remain healthy, it needs all of its components to remain intact — every species of life and all of the various natural resources — but they are not.

Several economists have attempted to calculate the annual dollar value for the “services” our ecosystem provides us — the raw materials we use for manufacturing as well as the life-sustaining resources we humans need. This annual value has been estimated as being anywhere from $33 trillion to $245 trillion. At the same time that these economists made their assessments, they also recognized that as the environment degrades and is unable to furnish us with the amounts of resources it was previously able to give us, its dollar value also degrades. There is therefore a significant, ongoing annual loss not only to our world’s economy, but also to the planet’s ability to sustain us. How tragic it is that so many ultra-conservatives are either unaware of this, or unable to comprehend it, or simply don’t care.

Disinterested businesses believe in evaluating everything in terms of a “cost-benefits ratio.” So if these businesses can make hundreds of billions of dollars annually at the cost of exterminating a certain number of species and people without incurring an unacceptable amount of liability or negative publicity, then they will do so because they crave profits too much not to take such actions, despite their obscene and atrocious nature. They secretly take the position that life, even human life, just isn’t worth as much as all those profits. This warped mindset is what so gravely threatens us all.

If you share this mindset, then you don’t have to do a thing. In fact, you can save a lot of money by putting your children up for adoption, not caring for your elders, and throwing your family pets into the street. If, however, you don’t feel this way, then do something: Contact your elected federal officials: your member in The US House of Representatives, your two US senators, the president and the heads of those federal agencies which are responsible for protecting us. Tell them you want nonnuclear green energy, new, more sustainable food production, and more sustainable mining and other land uses. This level of citizen participation, often called “activism,” is crucial to preserving the environment which cradles our civilization and our very lives.

~  PHILIP A. LEFCOURT, PASADENA

EXTINCTION EXPECTED

Global condemnation of confining marine animals to cramped tanks continues to grow, so the purchase of a large share of SeaWorld’s stock by a Chinese corporation is short-sighted. More and more people are turning their backs on these cruel theme parks. Compassionate people around the world denounce SeaWorld’s business model and don’t want it in China or anywhere else.

SeaWorld’s ticket sales are at their worst since the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” the documentary that lifted the curtain on SeaWorld’s ugly business. Attendance by members with annual passes at SeaWorld’s flagship Orlando, Florida, park dropped 14 percent in 2016 from the previous year. The company finished 2016 with a net loss of $12.5 million. Longtime corporate partners have jumped ship. Hundreds of employees have been laid off.

According to a national poll, more than 70 percent of people with children — a key theme park demographic — would be more likely to visit SeaWorld if the orcas were moved to sanctuaries.

It doesn’t matter if the facility is here or elsewhere, jamming ocean dwellers in tanks is a business model that is dying fast.

~  JENNIFER O’CONNOR

PETA FOUNDATION, NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

Re: “March for Freedom,” Match 2

People complain about “spineless elected officials” who “have refused to follow the laws” of our country regarding illegal immigration. Every public discussion of illegal immigration includes demands similar to this to enforce the laws against the (dark-skinned, low-income) illegal immigrants, but almost never any demand to enforce the laws against the (white, high-income) people who hire illegal immigrants. When has any politician ever admitted publicly that very few people will come to the US illegally if they can’t find jobs here? This illustrates how much the people who want an ample supply of low-paid, easily intimidated labor control what’s an allowable topic of political discourse, and how most of the public never questions their motivations or tactics of demonizing the people who are the lesser cause of the problem.

~ TOM O