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Mailbag

Issue: "2004 Election: Dubyafest," Sept. 11, 2004

Take two

Thanks for injecting a dose of optimism into the quagmire of our current health-insurance system ("Life support," Aug. 14). Goodness knows we need it, along with a sense of hope. However, whether an employer goes to a Health Savings Account system is a huge "if." Many employers do not now offer healthcare benefits and won't even if reforms reduce the cost. Many of their employees make too little to contribute to a tax-favored account. Even with HSAs, too many people in the richest country in the world will lack accessible healthcare.
-Richard Roeters; Grand Rapids, Mich.

I have long believed that the best way to reinvigorate our democracy and economy is to put the responsibility for health insurance and retirement back where it belongs: with the individual. I do not think a majority of Americans understand how vital it is to rid the nation of its current socialistic policies toward Social Security and health insurance.
-Michael Racey; Columbus, Ohio

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Joel Belz enthusiastically supports HSAs because the incentive to spend less would slow down "your use of healthcare services." Some of us who use the healthcare system extensively do not do so out of choice. With health insurance, our family spends 25 percent of our budget on medication and doctor visits because we have several chronic mental illnesses. They don't go away if you eat only vegetables or do away with carbohydrates. When discussions about changing healthcare occur, it would be wise to include those who have no choice but to extensively depend on that healthcare system.
-Denise Williams; Moscow, Tenn.

You painted a bright and glossy picture of Health Savings Accounts. However, as someone who runs a benefits firm, I'd say that most employers are not going to contribute any dollars to a Health Savings Account because there are no restrictions on the funds; employees can buy whatever they wish and suffer the tax consequences later. Arguably, getting consumers engaged in the process is a good move, but the decisions involved in a Health Savings Account require employees to become much more informed and astute about how this very complicated stuff works.
-Jody L. Dietel; Vista, Calif.

Payback

In addition to the shame of wearing a sandwich board confessing, "I was caught stealing gas" ("Crime & punishment," Aug. 14), how about restitution?
-Art Bergquist; San Marcos, Calif.

Let God judge

Gene Edward Veith is correct in his assessment that postmodernism's aim is to feign goodness without recognizing the badness in all of God's creatures ("Judging the judgment," Aug. 14). Consequently, we lose the heart of our faith: forgiveness. As we stand up for moral truth, let us not forget our duty to forgive transgressors as the Father has forgiven us.
-Robin W. van der Wal; Virginia Beach, Va.

I have met a few of those "virtuous pagans" who have never done anything wrong. They did not include among possible wrongs their failure to keep the first of the Great Commandments, to "love the Lord your God" with all they had.
-Robert J. Hughes; Monroe, N.C.

When a "virtuous pagan" insists he will not be punished, agree with him in a cheerful, nonjudgmental tone: "Oh, if you've never done anything wrong, you should be fine. God knows." That should get him thinking.
-Arlene Kovash; Monmouth, Ore.

Prodigal Amish

I am Amish and would like to clarify that the five youth on Amish in the City were not taken from the community; they chose to leave long before UPN arrived ("Tempting the Amish," Aug. 14). Sadly, they have been feeding on the "husks" that the world offers but, like the Prodigal Son, if they see their need of repentance and a Savior, we would kill the fatted calf upon their confession.
-Lester Beachy; Sugarcreek, Ohio

"Tempting the Amish" mentioned a "loophole" in Amish theology that allows Amish youth to "sample the world's ways." I am Amish and know several dozen families with children away from the culture. None of these youth left with their parents' permission. I am acquainted with one of the cast members, and his family has a strong objection to his Hollywood status. I spent four years away from Amish culture against my parents' wishes. The popular conception of "Rumspringa" couldn't be further from reality.
-Mervin Wagler; Bloomfield, Iowa

Proper accounting

You reported that when Microsoft pays a one-time dividend of $3 per share, it will "cost" $32 billion ("Balance sheet," Aug. 7). Dividends on common stock don't cost the company anything. Microsoft management may think of it as a cost, but shareholders don't.
-David DiMartino; Prospect, Ky.

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