Readers' Forum

The Wealth (and Health) of Nations

I greatly appreciated the “Health Care for All” edition. I am a Wisconsin State Senator and for three successive sessions have introduced legislation to provide medically necessary health care to every Wisconsin resident, modeled on the Canadian system. The articles in the health care issue powerfully reinforced the reasons why such a system would best serve the public.

I also appreciated the article by Brydie Ragan on social and economic justice. I'd like to refer readers to the book Developmental Health and The Wealth of Nations, edited by Daniel Keating and Clyde Hertzman. The editors provide a powerful compendium of research that demonstrates the complex social and health problems caused by extraordinary wealth differentials.

— Sen. Mark Miller
Wisconsin State Senator
16th Senate District

YES! in Español

I cannot tell you how excited I am to learn that you now have materials available in Spanish. I teach a course called “Spanish for Sustainable Development” for students preparing to do internships in Latin America, and my course emphasizes the same upbeat, exemplary models as those seen in YES! Magazine.

Thank you again for this wonderful news. Lo agradezco MUCHO!!!

— Jeanne Fossani, via email

Select articles from recent issues are available online in Spanish at

Another Incentive for Caring

Here is another benefit of a single-payer health system: when the government pays for health care for everyone, there is an incentive to pass laws that benefit the health of the entire population, including establishing regulations for more nutritious foods and less toxic consumer products.

— Steen Hviid (Dolan Springs, AZ)

Driving Home the Local Message

In reading Jill Bamburg's review of Michael Shuman's book The Small Mart Revolution, I was struck by how the dramatic increase in the cost of transportation will inflate the prices of foreign-made goods in big box stores, as well as the cost of driving to shop there. It may help refocus our demand for regionally produced goods in neighborhood shops sooner than anticipated..

— Kurt Volckmar (Garberville, CA)

Oh (no) Canada!

While it's important that a universal healthcare system is implemented in the U.S., it's also important that Americans do not idealize the Canadian system. Canada's publicly-funded health care system is under threat. This began when Paul Martin cut federal spending back when he was Finance Minister (before he became Prime Minister). These cuts left the provinces scrambling and set off the backwards crawl towards health care privatization in Canada.

Under NAFTA, Canada's health services are protected from foreign competition only if the Canadian government can prove that the sector has not been opened to private sector activity. However, Canada has entered a slippery slope towards privatization. Throughout the country, medical services (such as physical therapy and chiropractic) are being de-listed, and private-public partnerships for non-medical hospital service workers (such as cleaning staff and food providers) are forming.

Once the Canadian health care market is sufficiently deregulated, American companies (and others) will be able to compete for ‘cus?tomers' (patients), just like the U.S. system. For more information, please check out

— Sara Dent (Vancouver, B.C.)

Hold the Hassle

A nationwide survey conducted in 2004 by Harvard University, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 55 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the quality of their health care, up from 44 percent in 2000.

Dr. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, interpreted the findings this way: “When they talk about quality in health care, patients mean something entirely different than the experts do. They're not talking about numbers or outcomes but about their own human experience, which is a combination of cost, paperwork and what I'll call the hassle factor, the impersonal nature of care.”

Unless we incorporate personal elements back into health care, we'll eventually bankrupt ourselves no matter what economic arrangements we make.

— Jeff Kane, MD (Nevada City, CA)

:: YES! NEWSLETTER :: Reader Responses

In the August edition of our monthly e-newsletter, we asked readers to answer the following question:

  • Has the economy in your area become more localized or less localized in recent years? If it's changed, what do the changes mean to you?

Getting There

I live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a second ring suburb of Minneapolis. We have more big box stores now, but our city council is trying to create more of a community feeling. A large part of the problem is our lack of a town center or a “main street”, which makes community cohesiveness more difficult.

We did make Money Magazine's top 10 list of best places to live, but I still need to drive to neighboring towns to access farmers' markets, as well as a food co-op that buys from local and regional producers.

— September Steinolfson (Eden Prairie, MN)

Remote Control

The economy in my area has continued to shift from local control to remote management. Many apartment buildings have been sold and re-sold to bigger and more impersonal corporations that are tweaking the names of apartments to “apartment homes.” This is merely advertising spin. The fruit is not in the pudding.

Our local grocery and clothing stores continue to be bought up by large companies, leaving local managers unable to do much except satisfy the company that supplies their weekly paycheck.

— Karen Gosser (Tigard, OR)

McMansions Displace Locals

I live in Montauk, NY at the eastern end of Long Island. We are 3 hours from NYC and 25 minutes from Easthampton. Although Montauk used to have a distinct local character, the whole south fork of Long Island has essentially become “The Hamptons.” Due to an increasing number of affluent summer residents in our town, we are struggling to maintain a community in which permanent residents can afford to live a decent life.

— Scott Cullen (Montauk, NY)

Planning for the Peak

There is a lot of talk in Asheville, NC about creating a more local economy. We have more small farmers than in previous years, and we've kept Starbucks and big box stores out of our downtown. Yet given the coming oil crunch, many acknowledge that more needs to be done.

— Bruce Mulkey (Asheville, NC)


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