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Too many cars, too much death
Free to go
Long, unhealthy lives
Greed and depravity

Too many cars, too much death

Congratulations on your article "Facing the Oil Problem," by Charles F. Doran [February]. The author vividly points out the need to change our transportation (non-)system. As one drives in the seemingly unending stream of cars in the morning and evening commute, one thinks, There must be a more energy-efficient way to go to and from work. The author also calls attention to the generally unappreciated multibillion-dollar cost of highway deaths and injury. One minor correction: According to the CDC, the 42,000 traffic deaths include the 5,000 pedestrian deaths (as well as motorcycle-rider deaths).
Timothy Baker, MD, A&S '48, SPH '54
Professor of Health Systems, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Free to go

I have a couple of comments regarding "Facing the Oil Problem." The comment that the automobile "is a killer whose carnage we don't know how to stop" is alarmist and not the truth. The majority of people accept the trade-off of freedom to travel and the possibility that they may be involved in an accident and may be killed. If they don't accept this trade-off, then they don't have to drive or own an automobile. It's that simple.

"Introducing new forms of command and control for vehicles" is a recipe for tyranny, pure and simple. The automobile is perhaps the most heavily regulated consumer product ever. What would these "new forms" take? Draconian restrictions on travel? Fuel rationing? New intrusions into our private lives? And who would be the ones deciding these "new forms"? Corrupt politicians? Lying environmentalists? Ignorant, elitist lawyers? Or maybe members of academia who can't be trusted to protect freedom of speech that they don't agree with?

As a free man, I have no intention of allowing anyone to decree how I shall travel. You cannot regulate away the human yearning for freedom. And sooner or later all tyrants get overthrown.
Todd Schanz
Willis, Michigan

Long, unhealthy lives

Given Hopkins' focus on medical treatment, it's not a total shock that the article "Search for an Rx" [November] overlooks one of the biggest factors in American health care. Life expectancy and health care costs are not solely dependent on the medical treatment system. Non-medical factors have an immense influence, too. The article does include a cursory mention of chronic illnesses, and the United States' number one ranking, but largely ignores the link to life expectancy and cost. Astonishingly,it does not even mention diabetes. Nor does it mention the influence of lifestyle on health or impact of the obesity epidemic. It seems that if you are going to compare U.S. health care costs and outcomes to those of other countries, you should also consider that Americans are more likely to be overweight, spend more time in their cars, with less accompanying exercise than other transport modes, and their diet is dominated more heavily by corn syrup and soybean oil. It seems that another article is needed about the impact of chronic illness on health care costs.
Stuart Foltz, Engr '86
Champaign, Illinois

Greed and depravity

I read with interest the letter "Doctors and Lawyers" [February]. The American law industry has devised a splendid marketing aid to increase its turnover: the "contingency fee," which rewards the lawyers with a fat slice — 30 percent to 40 percent — of any damages they get for their client, but nothing if they lose. No sale, no commission. Woodrow Wilson once observed, "Law is the crystallization of the habit and thought of the society." Therefore, when society degenerates or when society's moral fiber is impaired, the legal system reflects that depravity.

Greed is as human as eating, and demanding gigantic damages for real or imagined injury is as American as apple pie.
Morgantown, WV


In "Never Better," in February's Wholly Hopkins, we omitted the fact that Laura Paulsen was a cross country all-American.

We regret the error.

Return to April 2009 Table of Contents

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