Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, January 15, 2017

System? What system?

I was very disappointed in the Jan. 12 Page 1 subheadline about Mr. Santiago: "… The public is trying to understand how he slipped through the system …"

There is no "system."

At best, there exists a matrix of disconnected agencies and organizations, each bending their efforts toward either helping people cope with illness, or toward protecting others from those who cannot (as well as from those who opt to operate in defiance of the unspoken social contract "Live and let live.")

Continued references to "the system" perpetuate an illusory reliance on a stabilizing force that is vested only in the general populace and supported only by our own individual actions. We all have to live with the community we all create.

— Maynard Smith

Idiots are on the road

I would like to know where these Alaska drivers learned to drive. Recently I was in the left lane of the Parks Highway in front of Freddie's when all of a sudden this idiot in the middle lane decides he should be in my lane. Blowing my horn didn't matter. He just kept coming.

Going down the road we both went through a light that was changing. The next one he slams the brakes on, I ended up beside him. I know it might have been the full moon but there were a lot of idiots on the road. I guess that means I'm one too — I should have stayed home.

— James Christenson

Young's bill would jeopardize not only trees but Alaska businesses

In a move ignoring both the desires of most Southeast Alaskans and economic realities in the region, Congressman Don Young recently introduced a bill called the "State National Forest Management Act" (H.R. 232), which would allow up to 2 million acres of federal lands in any state to be transferred to state ownership. Although this would outwardly appear to stimulate local economies, a little analysis shows that the measure would benefit only a small segment of the many businesses that rely on public lands for their operations. Not only are the majestic trees of Southeast Alaska a key driver of the booming tourism economy but they are also critical to the health of wild salmon runs that support commercial fishing, sportfishing and tourism businesses, which together account for nearly 25 percent of employment in the region. Not to mention the potential impact on personal use and subsistence.

If passed, Rep. Young's measure would jeopardize all of this. Cutting down Tongass old growth and jeopardizing fish-based jobs and businesses in favor of the logging industry, which provides less than 1 percent of jobs here and has never produced economically viable timber without massive taxpayer subsidies, is simply bad policy and poor leadership. The benefits are greatly outweighed by the damage it would create.

Some 5,000 Alaskans recently weighed in to support conserving our fisheries and wild places during the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment. Many did so because they recognized a healthy, intact national forest is critical to sustaining the economy of Southeast Alaska. Congressman Young, please don't play politics with the main economic drivers of our region. It only takes one bad decision to mess it up — don't let it be yours.

— Michael Cole

Affordable Care Act gives Americans much-needed options

The Jan. 4 article "Murkowski seeks more time for repeal of Affordable Care Act" on the current effort by GOP lawmakers to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, moved me to share my story on the impact the ACA has had on my family.

Last year, my college-age son took a year off school to study abroad and work. Since our Alaska Tier 1 retiree insurance was able to opt out of the requirement to cover dependents until they turn 26 years of age, my son was ineligible for our family's insurance plan. Because of ACA, I was able to apply for and obtain insurance for him as our dependent through healthcare.gov. The coverage was good and the premiums, deductible and copay were completely affordable.

My older, independent son has also been able to procure affordable and functional health insurance (not just catastrophic) that is within his means. It's a luxury that his parents did not have available to them at his age.

It would be irresponsible for our representatives in Washington to desert 60,000 people in Alaska, and millions of people around the country, who have health care because of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Murkowski, I support your hesitation to discontinue ACA without an improved plan to take its place. It's time to work out its kinks, expand on it and ensure that all of us, no matter our income levels, have affordable comprehensive health insurance. I am counting on our representatives to uphold the protections and access that the Affordable Care Act has provided to my sons.

— Sarah Bean

Planned Parenthood was there

I'm disappointed to hear that Congress, yet again, is using women's access to affordable and safe health care as a political tool. It's a cruel game to play with people who sometimes have nowhere else financially to turn. In my early 20s, I had just graduated from college and was starting out my career. Like many other young people, I was employed but wasn't offered any employee health care plan and was living paycheck-to-paycheck. Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed basic care, care that most likely prevented costly visits to the ER.

Years later I am insured, have a well-established career and a baby on the way. Consequently, I never want the door to basic affordable health care for young women to be shut behind me. That is why I urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to stand with her fellow women — young, old, rich, poor, healthy or sick — and defend Planned Parenthood.

— Anna Bosin

Thanks for moving cautiously

Thank you to Sen. Murkowski for listening to and responding to Alaskans' concerns that there be a solid plan in place before completely repealing the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Murkowski and four other senators acted swiftly this week requesting a delay in the repeal of the Affordable Care Act until Congress can offer details on a step-by-step replacement program that assures the American people — both patients and providers — that they will not be left hanging. This type of action represents common sense and puts the people's best interest first. We need more of this. Thank you for proceeding cautiously.

— Anne Adasiak-Andrew

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.