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Your claim about Sen. Wyden is insupportable. The health-insurance companies, et al., are feasting on the misery of Americans while viciously fighting against a single-payer plan while they flood the mass media with outright lies about single-payer. Every independent objective study has concluded that a single-payer plan would cover every American fully and with better health outcomes and for less money than is now spent by our shambles of a system.

Even after decades of antigovernment propaganda, a majority of Americans, when fairly and fully apprised of what a single-payer plan would entail — private doctors and hospitals, free choice of physician, no co-pays or deductibles, affordable drugs — support single-payer even if it might mean an increase in taxes.

Wyden's non-plan is a bureaucratic nightmare and his claim that it would give workers "the biggest raise in American history" is an outright fraud. The citizens of every other modern industrialized nation — yes, including Canada — blink their eyes in astonishment when they see what Americans must endure when it comes to health care. And with good reason: we spend much more, exclude millions, and have the worst health outcomes. Americans have inadequate health care because of the power of big business. — Gerald Cavanaugh, Ashland

"I do not smoke but I do worry about those who choose to smoke."

I personally do not smoke and never will! I do worry about those who smoke because it's not only affecting the smoker but it is affecting the people around them. Secondhand smoke is just as bad or even worse than smoking a cigarette. When you are smoking a cigarette you only inhale about half the harmful chemicals and all the rest are released in the air for the people around you to take in.

About every eight minutes someone dies from tobacco use, according to tobacco smoking statistics from 2002. I worry about those who are smoking because they do not even realize what they are doing to themselves and others around them. — MacKenzie Garside, Central Point

We live in Talent at a favorite dumping ground for people who don't want their cats anymore. Somebody has to feed and care for these animals you are dumping like so much garbage. Please have the responsibility to take your pet to the pound, C.A.T.S. or the Humane Society.

Yes, they may be killed at the pound. But guess what? If we weren't feeding them, they would die anyway and a heck of a lot more horrible death — starvation, mauled by dogs, abused by others, all sorts of horrible things. It is a huge mistake to think cats can feed themselves — especially at only 6 months of age or less. If you got the pet in the first place, when you are tired of them, you still owe them everything and it is your responsibility to see they are taken care of. So please have the courage to face yourself at the pound and take them someplace they will be cared for.

And, for Pete's sake, please spay and neuter. We are currently feeding five strays plus two others we hope to be able to find homes for — the homes you should have found. — Sandra Martineau, Talent