Peace Team

To the Editor:

The Memphis Peace Team would have more usefully spent their time in the Palestinian territories (The Fly-by, February 24th issue) carrying their message of peace to Hamas and the Al Aqsa Brigades while watching them build suicide bomber belts to strap on teens, rather than "overseeing" Israeli checkpoints. But I guess that would have taken some courage, to confront murderers instead of meeting farmers. The best part of the story, though, was the complaint about "mainstream American media," whatever that is. It could have been a whine from Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. I guess the Peace Team watches Al-Jazeera for fair and balanced news.

Barry Chase


New Restaurant!

To the Editor:

It has been rumored that state senator John Ford and Mayor Willie Herenton are opening a new Mexican restaurant on Beale Street. It's going to be called "NACHO DADDY."

Joe Mercer


Social Security

To the Editor:

There's been a lot of talk recently about Social Security. The system is there for insurance, not investment. So if everything else goes to hell in a hand basket, Social Security is still there to keep us from being destitute in retirement. It is recommended by those who want to radically change the system that investing in the stock market is the way to go, but the Dow Jones industrial average has been as low as 41 during the Hoover years to as high as 11,722 during the Clinton presidency. When George H.W. Bush left office, it was at 3,306.

The stock market is anything but a sure bet for your life savings. And for many, SSI-disability is their only income. Instead of scrapping what we have, let's decide how we are going to strengthen Social Security.

Jim Deaton


Tort Reform?

To the Editor:

In response to the February 24th letter titled "Tort Reform," organized medicine must vehemently disagree with Ms. Burney's viewpoint. Medical-liability reform is about the continued access to quality medical care and the lowering of health-care costs by encouraging physicians to practice careful and prudent, but not defensive, medicine.

Medical-liability premiums in our area have risen an average of 84 percent over the past five years. Many local doctors are choosing to discontinue performing risky procedures, while other doctors are retiring early. When these important procedures are not readily available or when these doctors are gone, citizens of Memphis will lose their access to care.

Consider the following facts: 100 percent of Tennessee's cardiac surgeons have been sued; 90 percent of Tennessee's obstetricians have been sued; 67 percent of all Tennessee doctors have been sued. Yet, less than 1 percent of all malpractice suits result in trial victories for plaintiffs. Are two-thirds of all doctors practicing in Tennessee committing malpractice? No.

Medicare's reimbursement formula will result in a 31 percent decrease in payments to physicians over the next seven years. I don't know of any business that could have a long-term plan when faced with such a decline in revenues. TennCare changes will result in over 300,000 uninsured citizens statewide and approximately 15,000 to 30,000 uninsured citizens locally.

Such a perspective is grossly misguided and detrimental to the citizens of the state of Tennessee. Medical-liability reform will benefit patients, as well as the practice of medicine. It will ensure that the quality of care is maintained and that we do not become the next crisis state.

Wiley T. Robinson, M.D.

President, Memphis Medical Society

Hypocrites on Abortion

To the Editor:

I am no longer surprised by what hypocrites the conservatives of this country have become. When it comes to abortion, most Republicans and conservatives say they want to end it. However, President Bush is doing everything in his power to drive more women to have abortions.

The number-one reason given by women for having an abortion is that they fear they cannot support a child financially. So what have Bush and the Republican Party offered: cuts in Medicare, food stamps, and job training.

Another slap in the face is the fact that the Tennessee Senate is working to prevent gays from adopting any of the 9,853 children under the state's custody. Apparently, it is better that the taxpayers pay for these unwanted children than for them to be put into loving homes. I guess this is the "compassionate" conservatism we've been hearing about.

Aaron Prather


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