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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Shocking stats about America

A revealing essay in the September 2005 Harper&

s magazine entitled &

Still Separate, Still Unequal: America&

s Educational Apartheid&

delivers shocking statistics and detailed descriptions of separate and unequal conditions in urban public schools all over the U.S. Mostly, enrollments range from 90 to 98 percent black and Hispanic, a small percentage lower, and a few even higher.

The author, Jonathan Kozol, has been visiting schools all over the country, interviewing students and teachers for the last eight years or so, and his reports are heart-breaking, sickening and sobering.

That such unbelievably massive disparity has become the norm in our major cities&

schools is dismaying, shameful, embarrassing and eye-opening to me. We live in a glass bubble here in Ashland. I could not bring myself to attend the M.L. King celebration.

Please read this essay and weep with me. It was adapted from Kozol&

s new book, &

The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling&

in America. I will need a support group to tackle the book.

Dot Fisher-Smith

Food purchases can make a dent

According to this month&

s report by U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the national cost of medical care has escalated to $1.9 trillion in 2004. This represents a 7.9 percent increase over the previous year, or nearly three times the 2.7 percent rate of inflation.

In terms of the national economy, the cost of medical care now accounts for a record 16 percent of our gross domestic product and ruins the profitability and international competitiveness of our industries. In personal terms, it amounts to $6,500 for every American, or $15,500 per household. It represents a major financial burden, lost productivity, personal misery and premature death.

The real tragedy is that most of the diseases associated with the outrageous cost of medical care are self-inflicted, through flawed lifestyles. These include inactivity, smoking, substance abuse and meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 1.4 million Americans are disabled, then killed prematurely each year by heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. That accounts for 56 percent of all deaths, and presumably, for a similar percentage of medical costs, or more than a trillion dollars.

Most of us have no control over the national cost of medical care. But, each of us has a great deal of control over our household&

s $15,500 share every time we visit our local supermarket.

Allen Thiel

Water quality will not suffer

In a recent give-and-take about water quality in Ashland&

s watershed, Jay Lininger has dredged up some old and eroded comments to try to make his point.

Let me be crisp and clear that we all care about maintaining high water quality, and that the huge recreational, physical and social benefits of an improved facility on Mt. Ashland can and will be accomplished while maintaining cold, clean water.

Jay&

s quote from an &

Ashland District Ranger&

dates from 1979. The ranger professed his opinion, and it was just opinion, prior to completion of a 1978-83 study completed by Forest Service scientists Jon Brazier and George Badura. The results of that study, as well as continued monitoring, show that the ski area contributes, at most, a tiny amount of sediment to the reservoir.

His quote from the Oregon DEQ was even more ancient, from 1973. A more modern quote, based on the current expansion plans, is from the May 3, 2000, Oregon DEQ comment on the Draft EIS, which states &

The Department of Environmental Quality is satisfied that implementation of either Alternative 2 or Alternative — as outlined in the Draft EIS can be accomplished without significant adverse impacts on the water quality of Ashland Creek and Reeder Reservoir.&

We all care about clean water. Let&

s keep the discussion fresh and avoid old murky comments.

Jeff Hanson

Ski

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