HHS contraception rule violates cherished freedom of religion
Regarding Cynthia Swanson’s July 5 letter [“Catholic leaders raise phony issue in opposing contraception rule”], there are four items that readers should consider.
First, the opposition to the HHS [Health and Human Services] regulations does not seek to impose religious beliefs on anyone. The opposition is based upon the proposition that anyone who holds a religious or moral belief that such sanctioned activities are immoral should not be compelled to pay for them. This compulsion by the government violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Second, when faith-based organizations receive government funds to provide services to others, it is because the government has adopted a program to provide services to individuals, and that those services can be most efficiently provided by already-existing organizations.
Third, the HHS mandate is not linked to the grants received by faith-based organizations. Were Catholic institutions to renounce every federal dollar, the HHS mandate would still apply to them as it applies to every insurance policy which must meet ACA [Affordable Care Act] standards.
Finally, freedom of religion is intended to protect minorities from the action of any particular Congress or administration. It is, therefore, a given that any identified conflict between law and religious principle will be annoying to the majority of people. The existence of the restraint is one of the jewels of our American heritage.
We should think long and hard about squandering such an inheritance simply to satisfy the momentary fads of today.
Thomas J. Johnson
Safe skateboarding place needed in city
The downtown Jay Street walkway in Schenectady has an ordinance restricting the use of bicycles and skateboards, though to this date, it has not been truly enforced.
Recently I witnessed two young men skateboarding and doing tricks up and down the strip, and I told them to read the signs posted at either end of the street.
One young man told me he would go, as he knew when he wasn’t wanted. Walking away, skateboard in hand, he stated: “You know, we could be robbing people. Where are we supposed to go where we feel safe? Please spread the word that we need a skateboard park.”
His friend agreed and said he didn’t want to have to be worried about getting stabbed or shot while skateboarding.
These young men have a valid point. Though as a shopkeeper, I am concerned about a safe and attractive walkway, I am also concerned about the safety of our youth — especially when they wish to partake in a healthy activity that brings them pleasure as well as a sense of accomplishment.
The writer is proprietor of Patricia’s Room.
Obamacare Romney’s ticket to the presidency
To put it as simply as possible, Chief Justice Roberts has just handed [GOP candidate] Mitt Romney the presidency of the United States.
Since its inception, the Democratic Party and President Obama have insisted that the Affordable Care Act is not a tax. The bill was rammed through Congress under the provisions of the Commerce Clause. The bill was then sent to the Supreme Court and constitutionality challenged under the Commerce Clause.
As we all know, the ruling was handed down June 28 and the bill was deemed constitutional not under the Commerce Clause but under Congress’ “authority to levy taxes.” Failure to comply with the provisions of the bill will result in fines levied against individuals and businesses. The fines will then be collected by the IRS as a provision of our tax returns. The result of this decision — this is a tax and the American people have been lied to once again.
Well known is the fact Mitt Romney instituted a health care program while he was governor of Massachusetts. It is lesser known that the state Legislature was controlled by the Democrats during his term in office. The point being, he demonstrated tremendous agility and skill in the art of compromise to secure the best program for the people of Massachusetts given the information and circumstances he was faced with at the time. A huge advantage of this fact is that he had the knowledge and experience to know what worked and what didn’t in the Massachusetts program. This is a tremendous advantage over his opponent and not one to be shied away from.
This is the watershed moment for Romney, and President Obama’s Waterloo. The time for true leadership is now. Romney should not shy away from this issue. It is his for the taking. Health care and the economy are intertwined. Increased taxes and mandates mean decreased disposable income for the average family. An economy already in recession will result in further downturns and a possible depression.
Arts and Entertainment offerings are first-rate
I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the weekly Arts & Entertainment Calendar of Events published in The Daily Gazette.
Especially great is how the articles are taken from a performer’s perspective as well as a patron’s.
The weekly Weekend Ahead, Club Scene, and Spotlight on local bands are well done.
Thank you for keeping me informed, and look forward to continued great service from your Arts & Entertainment team.
Medicine has become just another business
The pundits saying that Obamacare will improve the quality of health care insulted my intelligence, for, as my chief of service said on Thanksgiving Day 1963, “medicine has had its day.” Any health care provider or individual involved in the health care system knows that this is self-evident.
How did this happen? In a nutshell, physicians gave up leadership in their HMOs [health maintenance organization] to non-physicians.
Why relinquish this leadership? My tax adviser aptly answered this years ago when he said: “Physicians are so focused in their daily practices that they do not have time to look elsewhere for investments.” In the broader picture, this narrow-mindedness not only led to the demise of the medical profession, but also continued the hemorrhage of the quality of health care.
A medical colleague states it this way: “We are no longer called physicians but health care providers.” Therefore, physicians have no one to blame but themselves for their present status. Moreover, this cascade has relegated patients to a number. No wonder patients are frustrated, for, at times, no physician is in charge!
It is sad that over a 50-year period, medicine has gone from a noble profession to just another business, just as my chief of service predicted.
Nicholas D. Procino, M.D.
Two candidates, two views on hydrofracking
[State] Sen. James Seward is wrong on fracking. On June 25, he told an Ithaca radio audience that the rumored granting of drilling permits in five counties would “give us some real true life experience here in New York whether this can be done safely or not.” This attitude is heartless and reckless.
The senator seems willing to risk parts of the state, including parts of our own district, if it means big business gets to drill. I disagree. No part of my district, no part of my state, is expendable. If we do not know that fracking can be done safely — and we do not — how can we justify permitting it?
What do we say to the residents of Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga counties when it turns out that drilling poisons the water, destroys the roads and kills the housing market? Do we then compensate them for their ruined water tables, damaged infrastructure and lowered property values, and, if so, who pays for it?
The residents of this state deserve better than “let’s see whether this can be done safely.” Fracking is not the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels. We need an all-out effort to develop and promote alternative, renewable energy sources and, when I am elected to the Senate, that will be one of my primary missions.
The writer is running for state senator in the 51st District.
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