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Letters to the Editor 

Author Responds
This follows Dr. John Ochsner's letter to the editor ("Mistreatment," July 31), in which he expressed his opinions about Gambit Weekly's story "Missing Links" (July 17) about my book, Dr. Mary's Monkey, which examines the murder of Dr. Mary Sherman.

Readers of my book already know that I portrayed Dr. Alton Ochsner Sr. (John Ochsner's father and Mary Sherman's boss) as what he was: a world-renowned physician and a patriotic American who did what he thought needed to be done at the height of the Cold War. The political activities of Dr. Alton Ochsner Sr. and his long (and often covert) relationship with the U.S. government are well documented in the sources cited in my book, as is the fact that he arranged publicity for Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in 1963. These are facts of history.

I invite Gambit's readers to read my chapter on Dr. Alton Ochsner Sr. for themselves and form their own opinions. That chapter can be downloaded for free at:

It is a fact that Mary Sherman worked at Tulane Medical School from 1953-1964 (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, December 1964, pp. 1824-1825). If John Ochsner did not even know that Mary Sherman worked at Tulane, how can he speak with any authority about her activities outside the doors of Ochsner Clinic -- or about her murder?

Ed Haslam
Author, Dr. Mary''s Monkey

It''s a Good Thing
Thanks, Gov. Blanco, for vetoing Sen. Marionneaux's bill, which would have reduced available public education funds and paralleled No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which penalizes even excellent schools if scores don't improve annually. The bill endeavored to circumvent educators' vehement objections to vouchers (in Bush's NCLB), which divert funds that should be used to improve public schools. Instead of supporting American schools and educators, the voucher system allows outsourcing of tutoring, even to corporate-owned centers in India.

Archdiocese spokesman Rev. Maestri stated the "tax deduction would have greatly aided working families," pretending it benefitted lower-income families. In fact, tax deductions are used by more affluent taxpayers who itemize returns. Louisiana's private and parochial schools, including the Archdiocese's, already receive millions in state subsidies via transportation and textbook grants. The senator dismissed $9.7 million in lost revenue, but neither public schools nor Rev. Maestri would refuse the paltry sum. Revenues given to corporate and parochial schools reduce funds available for public education.

Supposedly, teachers unions spent a quarter-million dollars supporting Louisiana legislative candidates. We did not get our money's worth. The bill passed. Without having received any money from teachers' organizations, Gov. Blanco supported a pay raise that will finally bring salaries up to the Southern average. We will still be far below the national average. Her veto of Sen. Marionneaux's bill at least postponed legislation that would further weaken public education. Way to go, girl!

Alicia Breaux

It Could Make Us Sicker
Andrei Codrescu's article "Just another Sicko Day," (Pennypost, July 24) is a tirade on how a recent negative encounter with an insurance provider and the author's Human Resources Department at work is emblematic of America 's health-care system. While many of us can relate to Codrescu's dilemma and understand his frustrations, the single-payer system he is advocating by supporting Michael Moore would only make the problems he experienced even more common.

If a single-payer system were to be implemented, Codrescu might have had no choice but to pay the full price for his prescription. Under a single-payer system, which is often mistakenly equated with universal coverage, the government would hold a monopoly over health-care coverage, offering one insurance plan option with no alternatives. That means that if the government decides to reduce funding for prescriptions determined to be too costly, the individual would have to forgo those potentially life-saving treatments or finance them out-of-pocket.

By observing other countries that already have this system in place, we know that under a government-run system, bureaucratic inefficiencies replace free-market systems, and the result is an overburdened, under-funded system that is more cumbersome to navigate than our free-market structure.

Codrescu was clearly mistreated, and the hoops he was made to jump through quite unfair, but we need to seek alternative health-care improvement solutions, such as free-market competition, and not make the gross assumption that single-payer health care is the answer to anything other than movie ticket sales.

Jennifer Toups
President New Orleans Association of Health Underwriters


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