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Simon McCormack provides a reasonable overview of Gov. Richardson’s ambitious proposal [Re: News Feature, “Here’s to Your Health,” Jan. 17-23], but the implications of the governor’s plan are more dangerous and farther reaching than implied.

As the opening sentence indicates, Richardson’s plan may make it easier for uninsured New Mexicans to get health insurance. That sounds great as far as it goes, but what about reasonable access to quality health care? Insurance and care are two very different things.

On those merits, Richardson’s plan is troubling. The biggest problem is the application of what amounts to price controls on all doctors practicing in the state. Any licensed doctor will be forced, under this plan, to accept whatever the state and insurance companies decide is “fair.” When costs need to be cut, as they inevitably will, captive doctors will be the primary targets.

While there are dozens of other problems with the plan including cost, enforcement of all these new mandates and the creation of yet another new bureaucracy, if New Mexico loses too many doctors, the system will inevitably crumble.

Instead of new mandates, what we need is to make health care more affordable. One simple way to do that would be to stop taxing fee-for-service and other health care items (HMOs are exempt from the tax). New Mexico is one of only a handful of states that taxes health care. It is no coincidence that we also have one of the highest rates of uninsured in the nation.

Vegan Kings

Jan. 15 marked the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Democratic presidential candidates are using the occasion to debate his role in this country’s landmark civil rights legislation. I find it more interesting to ponder whether his ideals extended beyond African-Americans to all victims of oppression and injustice, including animals.

Dr. King’s wife, Coretta, and son, Dexter, became vegans, rejecting all products of animal suffering, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather and fur. Their opposition to violence extended to the violence perpetrated against billions of innocent, sentient animals in America’s factory farms and slaughterhouses. Their passion for justice extended to the most oppressed living beings on the planet–animals bred, abused and killed for food.

In his letter from Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King cautioned that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This message truly resonated with Coretta and Dexter Scott King. I hope it will do likewise with Dr. King’s many other admirers.

Clear Channel Is No Jenna Jameson

Thank you for showcasing the sheer corporate weenie-ness of Chuck Hammond and Clear Channel in your recent article "The Fight for the Dial" [Re: Feature, Jan. 17-23]. I find paper-shufflers like Hammond to be a total bore; his stations have crap programming, stale news and a predictability that makes my skin crawl. Independent radio stations are where it is at for good music, news and community info. The bile Clear Channel puts out over our airwaves is to real entertainment as Walt Disney is to Jenna Jameson.

For those of my Albuquerque neighbors who think there is some dark social agenda behind Clear Channel and its piggish behavior, I would like to point out that Hammond revealed its owners are just boring, ravenously greedy businesspeople who want to make gobs of money. He states: "And if people don’t tune in, audience numbers go down, taking advertising revenue with them." That is what Clear Channel is really all about: trying to grind out profit like an ox tethered to a mill. As a former corporate slave I can tell you that pencil-pushers like Hammond and the stuffed shirts at Clear Channel don’t have the guts to push any social agenda (the ones I worked with certainly didn’t)–they just want to make their bonuses, pay their mortgages and go on vacation to boring places like Las Vegas or, yawn, Cancun. These are people who think music is Top 40, art is what they see in the Vegas casino lobby and sex is missionary and clean.

One easy way for folks in New Mexico to take a few quick jabs at these greedy geeks is to never advertise with them. Money is all they care about, so let’s not give them any as a reward for their blandness.

Ah, Wednesday

[Re: Blog, “Webgame Wednesday,” Jan. 16] Wednesday was a short day in elementary school. I don’t know why; I guess the teachers had meetings or something like that. So I would wake up happy on Wednesday morning knowing that school would be let out early and I, latchkey kid that I was, could return home at 1:45 to an empty house and watch Heavy Metal for the 382 nd time. But in middle school not only did we loose recess but we also lost our short day, and Wednesday ceased to have any special meaning to me. But now, 20 years later, I can wake up happy (around 1:45) on Wednesday knowing that if nothing else, there will be webgames. Thank you, Amy. Thank you for giving me Wednesday back. Now how the hell do I get out of that second room in the Dwarf game?

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