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Letters to the Editor 

Don't Be Misled

Mollie Day's story on cypress forests ("The Unkindest Cut," Aug. 14) highlights erroneous information from swamp-boat guide operator Dean Wilson, while hardly mentioning the scientific figures from the U.S. Forest Service, the Louisiana Office of Forestry and the Louisiana Forestry Association.

The true picture from our officials is relegated to page five of the article. Here is one fact to remember: Only 2 percent of the annual harvest in Louisiana is cypress and of that amount, 98 percent is for cypress lumber, not mulch.

The big issue is coastal restoration, which will benefit us all. The cypress mulch is just a distraction.

Janet Tompkins
Editor, Forests & People magazine

Give Credit Where Due

Trash to Treasure" (News & Views, Aug. 14) by Sarah Andert was great and long overdue, but I was disappointed that the new program by Phoenix recycling was not given more emphasis.

Rather than focusing on the problems in this city, we should be raising awareness whenever a potential solution arises. The article should have begun by telling readers that we finally have a means to recycle in this city! Granted, it comes with a price tag, but it represents a real solution that was arrived at by the residents of the city themselves. While local politicians are profiting at the expense of their constituents and the corruption is making national headlines, we have stopped waiting on city government and have found our own way to recycle in New Orleans. Why is no one paying attention?

Kimberly Terrell

Short on Facts

If Jennifer Toups did observe the health-care delivery of other countries ("It Could Make Us Sicker," Letters, Aug. 14), she would have reached a different conclusion. Instead of relying on verifiable statistics, she uses imaginary scenarios to scare the reader.

The World Health Organization ranks the French Health Care System as No. 1, with Italy as No. 2. The rankings are based on outcomes, accessibility, affordability and other measures. The USA is ranked 37. We spend more than $7,000 per person annually for health care, while the range for other industrialized nations runs from a low of $2,200 to more than $5,000. What are we getting for our overpriced delivery system?

The U.S. citizen pays the private health-care market for a bureaucratic, inefficient and cumbersome health-care delivery system that limits treatment options. A few years ago, I sold a group medical insurance policy to a client in southeast Louisiana. The insurance company was and still is very big and very rich.

The policy limited the number of visits for physical and respiratory therapy to 20 visits per year. The other companies I represent all contain similar limitations. A premature baby with multiple problems was born to a spouse in this group. The treatment prescribed included physical and respiratory therapy three times a week, or 156 visits per year. The insurance company combined all therapies together and paid for 60. The state paid for the other 96. We don't have to wait for the government to limit our treatment options; we are already paying the private market for that privilege.

Thomas Rogers
Associate in Risk Management

River Ridge

Open Your Mind

Thank you for your story on the emerging dialogue on race among artists and their allies in New Orleans ("Portrait of Diversity," News & Views, July 24; www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2007-07-24/news_feat2.php) . I particularly appreciated your focus on the tension within a new organization, as they attempt to develop a shared vision of race/racism in New Orleans. Even the name of the group is contested.

Our public conversation on race in New Orleans -- and the United States more widely -- is impoverished by a narrow focus on individual feelings and attitudes that causes us to ignore structures of inequality. We continue to have unequal access to resources in this country, including wealth, employment, health care, and education. Our education system remains biased toward the historically dominant groups and our historic districts and preservationist organizations -- as well as our arts institutions -- all reflect that. In a city that values its cultural history, we need to take a hard look at how women, people of color and working class folk have been marginalized from our public history. From public monuments to school curriculum to museum collections, there is much work to be done to create an environment that welcomes the contributions of all people to cultural innovation, artistic creativity and economic development in our city.

We emphatically do not live in a colorblind society and it is not even clear that being "blind" to color, as Arend points out, should be our ultimate goal. Addressing inequality must remain the primary aim even as we seek to educate each other on social and cultural difference. In our current predicament, blindness to difference (including "race") is also a blindness to inequality.

Helen Regis

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