Child dies from toothache

Deamonte Driver, age 12, died for want of proper medical attention. He was not neglected, nor abused. He died because his mother couldn’t afford the high cost of medical coverage.

Read: “For Want of a Dentist,” by Mary Otto in The Washington Post.

Personally, after having lived and had first-hand experience with the medical care in the UK and seeing that doctors there are exceptional, I would rather pay higher taxes and sleep more soundly at night knowing that everyone has access to proper health care.

When my friend and former flatmate from England was here, my partner and I discussed this with him. I showed him my finger that had been cut and stitched. I asked my partner: “How much did this cost us?” He replied, “$400 and some odd dollars.” I turned to my British friend and asked him what a stitched finger would have cost in the UK. He replied, “It would have been free.”

I further enquired about the cost of medication, to which my English friend replied, “The highest price for medications in the UK is between £5.00 and £8.00,” equivalent to $8.00 to $10.00 — nowhere near the cost of $80 to $100. Do we not see that this inflated cost is due to insurance and pharmaceutical companies lining their pockets? Pharmaceutical companies claim it is for research, but a different way is available to us.

Nationalize the pharmaceutical companies, and with better stewardship of the tax monies collected we can make nationalized medicine a reality in the U.S.

We are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have nationalized medicine.

Personally, as health care costs rise, and this becomes more public, I do believe that the day will come when we will have nationalized medicine. But the real question is how many people will die for want of adequate, affordable coverage before this happens.

Where are all of those protesters who claim to laud life? Why are they not out there advocating for universal health care? Why is this not part of their “right to life” agenda? Health care should be a right, not a privilege granted only to those who can afford to pay for it.

Rev. Michael Adam Reale
Owensboro KY
Michael Adam Reale is pastor of New Hope United Church of Christ.

Queen, not a prisoner

I respectfully disagree with Curly Cohen’s assessment of Helen Mirren’s portrayal of the Queen of England as a “wonderful and tough woman imprisoned by the pomp and circumstance of her position.” (PWW 2/17-23) On the contrary, I thought the movie showed a woman who disliked her ex-daughter-in-law so much that she paid her respects to a dead elk but refused to attend her ex-daughter-in-law’s funeral until it became clear to her that the people of England might tire of all the pomp they are affording the royalty and, perhaps, she might lose her palaces and gardens and comfortable way of life.

Phyllis Solomon
Seal Beach CA

Taking issue

In the PWW’s international roundup of Feb. 17 (“President Hu Jintao visits Africa”) an uncritical, even reprehensible, report on China’s role in Africa makes it sound as if China has been a longtime good friend of the African people.

But not only are the current trade agreements formally much like those of the Western imperialist powers, China also supported all the vicious, reactionary, CIA-supported African military/political groups that, with the help of foreign mercenaries, drained the progressive forces of Nigeria (the “Biafra” secession, notably), Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and elsewhere. The people in those countries still suffer from the effects of those conflicts.

China’s past and current role in Africa calls for criticism and suspicion before determining if any praise is deserved.

John Woodford
Ann Arbor MI

New site for women workers

On March 8, 2007, International Women’s Day, we’re delighted to take the opportunity to announce the launch of LabourStart’s special coverage of women workers at: .

There you can read about:

• UK: Unions have warned that local councils may have to cut jobs as they struggle to meet a deadline to bring in equal pay — including back pay for many thousands of women.

• Australia: According to a new report issued this week by the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, thanks to the Howard government’s labor laws, not only is Australia at the bottom of the OECD countries in terms of workers’ rights, but women workers are hardest hit. Since the introduction of anti-union legislation, women’s wages have actually fallen by some two percent.

• Turkey: Thousands of women marched — supported by the petroleum workers union, among others — demanding peace and equality. Among them were women workers from Novamed, a company that was the target of a recent LabourStart online campaign.

• Israel: According to a government report issued this week, women’s salaries remain half that of men’s.

• Canada: Seventy women workers who have been on strike at the First Ontario Credit Union since Oct. 20 have gotten an extraordinary gesture of solidarity from fellow union members. To mark International Women’s Day, unions in the area will be withdrawing $800,000 from the credit union on Thursday.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Our new page will report on women workers’ issues — including struggles for equality — throughout the year. Please spread the word.

And make sure you’ve sent off a message in support of those women workers at First Ontario.

Eric Lee
Via email
Eric Lee is LabourStart’s founding editor. LabourStart is an online news service for unions and their members, maintained by a global network of volunteers.