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Letters to the Editor for 7/20/09

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Universal health care a must

As we have watched business after business close in the past few years and unemployment levels reach unprecedented highs, there is a hidden cost we have not considered.

How many of those folks who found themselves unemployed also found themselves joining the millions of people in this country who do not have health insurance?

How many children are going without adequate medical care because their families cannot afford or no longer qualify for health insurance?

Many of us have come to believe that one is too many. That is why I am supporting President Obama’s health care program and urging my friends and family to do the same.

The president’s program has three major points: 1. Reduce health care costs for everyone. 2. Guarantee everyone freedom of choice in selecting medical care providers and facilities. 3. Make sure that quality medical care is available for everyone.

A lot of folks are asking questions about how universal health care could be funded or how it would be administered.

Maybe we need to swallow our American pride and take a look at how many of our European neighbors are doing a very successful job of providing health care for all their citizens.

People are concerned about what it will cost. We should be asking a different question: what is it costing us not to have it? Or to put it another way, what is the value of a human life?

Would you save someone’s life if you had the chance? If the answer to that question is yes, please join me and thousands of others in supporting universal health care for all Americans.

Anthony M. Lowe

Fancy Gap

Low taxes vital to improving economy

Math is a language that doesn't lie.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 15,969 individuals living in Grayson County. The City of Galax has 6,808.

For the area, the unemployment rate is 10.8 and 10.1 percent respectively.

In Grayson, 17.6 percent of residents live below the poverty line. In Galax, the number is 19 percent.

We have a problem. Utility rates are on the rise. Gas is [near] $2.50 per gallon. Anyone who has gone grocery shopping recently knows that the dollar doesn't go as far as it did even two years ago.

Now, taxpayers are being asked to shoulder an extra burden in order to meet local budgets.

Taxes are a necessity. We are lucky that our rates are the lowest in the state. After all, when property taxes become unbearably high, homeowners are forced to sell. A high sales tax forces people to shop elsewhere.

High taxes on business makes it impossible to grow the local economy. Higher taxes create hardship across the board.

Clearly it is vital to maintain low tax rates.

So the question becomes, how do we reconcile the need to provide a quality education to students and equitable services to residents with the goal of keeping taxes low and the burden manageable?

The answer is accountability.

In the 1990s, New York City implemented a strategy known as the “total efficiency accountability management concept.”

The strategy is based on establishing performance indicators, periodic collection of data, analyzing the numbers, and applying results.

Departments are able to measure performance consistently, determine where they need improvements, anticipate trends, improve performance, and become more efficient, thereby saving money in the long run.

The statistics are made available to the public, allowing feet to be held to thefire. Each member of local government is held accountable and taxes remain low, which benefits us all.

Bobby Williams

Galax