letter to the President

i'm not one to write letters to public officials often- can't think of one i've written before- but spying a link on the White House web site i just couldn't resist. since i went to the trouble to write it, guess i'll post it here too:

Howdy Mr. President;

After watching your State of the Union address it struck me that I hadn't heard you mention anything further about a manned mission to Mars. Granted national security, foreign policy and the economy are foremost on the agenda, but is this still on the table?

Also, I wondered if your policy toward stem cell research might change in light of the fact that the majority of existing stem cell lines may be compromised. Although I disagree with disallowing federal funding for further stem cell research when these lines are exhausted, I believed it to be a practical compromise, rightfully stopping short of prohibiting the research itself. It's hard to argue with letting the market bear the burden (and receive the fruit) of those labors, and with not allocating tax dollars to this research from people who are morally opposed to the practice.

Should these existing stem cell lines prove unusable, might the funding currently allocated for that research be continued on new stem cell lines?

Bravo on your plans to expand the use of DNA evidence in capital criminal trials, simplify the tax code, and work toward balancing the budget by reducing redundancy and eliminating ineffective gov't programs. These things deserve bipartisan support! Bravo on rallying to the aid of the Pacific Rim in the wake of the tsunami. Kudos for your stance on partial privatization of social security contributions; it's a step in the right direction.

I'm sure you're aware that health care insurance in this country continues to be a problem for many people in lower income brackets. I've gained and lost my insurance coverage so many times over the last ten years I've lost track. Every time you switch jobs you can wait anywhere from 90 days to nearly a year before becoming eligible for coverage through your employer's plan. I suggest some kind of means testing to qualify people with incomes approximately $30K/yr or less for a low-cost basic health insurance plan that provides for routine medical and dental checkups and early detection of disease. Vast amounts of research support the proposition that it's cheaper to catch and treat disease early than to play catch-up after the fact, and the human toll in preventable suffering is immeasurable. Imposing the cost of an all-encompassing "universal health care" initiative on the public is bad policy, but the fact remains that literally millions of people cannot afford to spend in the neighborhood of 10%+ of their net income on premiums. So, they never see a doctor, their problems aren't caught early enough, and they don't receive treatment- even for conditions of which they're aware. I know this personally, as I'm one of them. When people have to choose between paying bills they already have and insurance premiums they don't, the insurance loses.

Speaking of health issues, I wholeheartedly support any efforts to address the domestic and global AIDS epidemic, and encourage you to use every means within your power to influence private organizations, faith-based and otherwise, to bring their considerable resources to bear on this crisis, as well as whatever resources can be made available through governmental channels.

While I'm setting forth my own agenda, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to introduce legislation that brings some consistency to the national electoral process. This is an issue on which everyone can agree we can improve, and I'm optimistic this can be accomplished in your tenure, and have a positive impact on the process of choosing your successor.

Completely changing gears, I'm personally of the opinion that Arafat was the major impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the encouraging signs we've seen since the Palestinian elections lead me to look optimistically at the chance of long overdue change there. May there be true and lasting peace in the middle east in our lifetimes! The ball's in their court.

By the way, thanks for the tax relief. People can say what they want about tax cuts for the rich (and believe me in Washington State the liberal base is a vocal juggernaut), but I can't remember receiving $400 from the IRS in the mail under any other administration, and I never cleared more than $30K in my life. None of my (generally quite liberal) co-workers ever have much of an answer for that one. That $400 was approximately equal to 2% of my gross income that year, and put food on my table for nearly a month.

War is a terrible thing, and the (obviously necessary) fight against terrorism is one that will continue for the foreseeable future. I hope America remains on the offensive in this fight when different hands are at the wheel. I agree that oppressed peoples empowered to choose their leaders will reject the tyranny of extremists, and embrace liberty and the pursuit of happiness in their way. I'm hopeful that future history books will look back on these troubled times as a turning point in the fundamental acceptance of the concept of human rights in the middle east.

I realize you're a religious man, I respect that. Myself, I'm an atheist. Just thought you might like to know that not all of us fret daily over the "religious right". Personally I'd be more worried about a man in your position who didn't act on his conscience. Can't ask any more of someone than to do what they feel is right.

On a personal note, I enjoyed your virtual tour of the Oval Office on the White House web site. Has anyone ever told you you're a much better speaker when you're relaxed? Glad to see you're putting the office to (ahem) better use than your predecessor did. Was that a Remington sculpture I spied under the painting that reminds you of your ranch? I almost forgot- I don't know where you were when you gave "the one finger salute" to the camera (in the likely-quite-old clip that's making the internet rounds) but that was damned funny. We're all, after all, still human.

Here's to the future. If you're ever out Washington-way, come on by, I'll grill up some steaks or something. But if the Mariners are playing the Rangers, I'm rootin' for the hometown boys.

Lowell Pelkey

P.S. I consider myself an independent and rarely vote a straight ticket, but I voted for you twice, and for your father twice too. He was a good president; he helped you earn my first vote. You earned the second one on your own.

P.P.S. By the way, I'm a bright single guy with an 11 year old son, between jobs. Know of any openings in the Pacific Northwest? I hear government jobs have great health insurance.

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