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Volume 70, Issue 23, Thursday, September 23, 2004


Letters to the Editor

Tyranny never solved anything

To the editor:

Benjamin Woods perpetuates several destructive myths in his recent article reflecting on his visit to Ghana ("Trip to Africa changes perspective, perception," Opinion, Thursday). Woods is no doubt sincere in his concern for the poor of the third world -- a fact that makes many of the statements made in his opinion piece all the more disappointing.

Woods argues that the problems of African nations would be solved by following the example of Pan-African socialists like Kwame Nkrumah. But do the facts support this assertion? After gaining power in 1957, Nkrumah set about creating a one party state while ruthlessly suppressing any opposition. He established relations with the Soviet Union and encouraged a Stalinesque cult of personality centered around himself as Osagyefo ("the Redeemer"), issuing statements like this: "All Africans know that I represent Africa and that I speak in her name. Therefore no African can have an opinion that differs from mine." 

Woods refers to the African slave trade as "the worst crime against humanity in history" -- an instance of hyperbole that defies belief. Does he believe the slave trade was worse than the murder of 2 million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge? Worse than the Holocaust? 

The legacy of statism in Africa has been one of corrupt and oppressive dictatorships that monopolize power while inflicting poverty, theft, famine, massacre and war. Aside from Ghana, one needs only consider Angola, Congo, Rwanda, and countless other Third World countries that are just beginning to recover from decades of collectivist devastation. 

In advocating a better future for Africans, Woods fails to see that tyrants like Nkrumah are links to a terrible past.

Richmond Holdren
senior, business

Don't throw out the book

To the editor:

Jennifer Jackson's Sept. 13 column, "Sex ed textbooks create controversy," argues against including common-sense information regarding contraception in public school textbooks.

The bottom line is that we no longer live in the Victorian era, and not including proven methods for teens to protect themselves from the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and STDs is both socially irresponsible and morally wrong. 

Jackson blames comprehensive textbooks for the rise in teenage pregnancy, but if you look at the facts, places like Japan and most of Europe have had comprehensive sex education books for decades, yet have lower teenage birth rates than the United States. 

It's not fair for some right-wing political groups to be pushing for this information to be excluded at the risk of countless teenage Texans merely because it clashes with their own particular set of beliefs. We need to empower teens with knowledge, and provide them with the power to forge their own beliefs and opinions. 

Ben Benigno
freshman, political science 

Canadian healthcare offers better benefits

To the editor: 

While Bonnie Altman has her economic argument in order ("Universal healthcare a universal mistake," Opinion, Monday) she is forgetting the human element. 

As a Canadian, I recognize the flaws of socialized medicine.

There are waits for service and treatment; however, everyone will be seen and no one will lose their savings because of the costs of an extended illness.

Altman's choice of examples is interesting, if inflammatory. I have examples of my own. 

My brother fractured a vertebra while skiing in Canada. His surgery and months of physical therapy, but the cost nothing outside of his healthcare premium and medication. 

Here's another: My grandmother had a heart attack while visiting Las Vegas and required open-heart surgery. Having just retired, her insurance did not cover her medical expenses abroad. 

Eventually, the government of Alberta paid the bill from an emergency fund and my grandmother was not forced to sell her home. 

For-profit healthcare will always place corporations' interests above human lives.

Laura Koltutsky
Research and Instructional Services, M. D. Anderson Memorial Library

Letters Policy

Letters to the editor are welcome from all members of the UH community and should focus on issues, not personalities. Letters must be typed and must include the author's name, telephone number and affiliation with the University. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, language and space. Letters may be delivered in person to Room 151, Communication; e-mailed to ; or faxed to (713) 743-5384.

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