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‘Selfish Libertarian’ fires back

Dear Mr. Wells,

I am writing in reference to your “The Selfish Libertarian” cartoon (Durango Telegraph 4/20/06).

As an initial matter, please be advised that I neither drink alcoholic beverages nor partake of tobacco products, as I am depicted doing in your cartoon. While I do not have a top hat, your cartoon has inspired me to purchase one. (I think that the whole “Robber Baron” look works for me. Without your cartoon, I would not have realized this. Thanks.)

On a more substantive note, over the years, as a result of many, many years of education coupled with hard work, a significant amount of risk taking and a desire to make money, I have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal and state income taxes, as well as “contributing” over $100,000 in payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security. A significant portion of my tax dollars have been used by federal, state and local governments for health care for the indigent and elderly.

In addition, a few years ago I spent several hundred hours of uncompensated time pursuing an unsuccessful challenge in federal court to the multi-billion dollar Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and the states. I, along with a cadre of other lawyers, argued that some of that settlement money should have been used to compensate Medicaid patients who suffered the ravages of tobacco use due to Big Tobacco’s conspiracy to withhold vital information regarding the harmful effects of tobacco. 

What that means is that this selfish libertarian, by pursuing a course of enlightened self-interest, has paid well over $100,000 in taxes that were used for health care for the poor and elderly, and that I have spent more than $50,000 of my time in seeking justice for Medicaid patients harmed by Big Tobacco. You may consider me selfish, but at the end of the day, my hard work has provided the poor and elderly with a whole lot of health care, and I have fought the good fight on behalf of Medicaid patients harmed by tobacco.

I just happen to think that the proposed Health Service District is a boondoggle and do not want to have my hard-earned tax dollars wasted.

– Hoping you are having a profitable day, I am, very truly yours, Lord Zimsky

Winter at the community shelter

Dear editors,

I would like to acknowledge our agency’s appreciation for your contributors taking the time to explore and devote an article to the issue of homelessness in our community. However, the article “Homeless in Durango” printed in this week’sTelegraph misrepresented information about the program structure at Volunteers of America’s Durango Community Shelter. In her article, Jaime Becktel identified that “homeless tent campers” are required to wait six months between shelter stays. In fact, our policies indicate a wait of 30 days between extended shelter stays. Additionally, during the winter months, the Durango Community Shelter began operating an “Emergency Shelter” program. This resource provided an option for nightly shelter to all eligible individuals regardless of previous service utilization. Through this program, residents were not required to “wait” for any period of time to resume night-only shelter care. We appreciate your support in clarifying this discrepancy to both your readers and the individuals we serve.

– Jessica Burley, program manager, Volunteers of America Durango Community Shelter

Alleviate strain on health care

Dear editors,

I am writing to express my personal support and the support of the organizations I represent, the Durango Chamber of Commerce and the La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership (LEAD), for the passage of the La Plata County Health District.

It is commonly agreed among economic development professionals, and many others, that there are three necessary elements of a community indirectly associated with economic development, but when those three elements are well established and well executed, it directly affects a community’s ability to conduct economic development. Hence, making it easier to create and attract better jobs. Those basic three elements are education, public safety and health care.

The three areas of health care intended to benefit from the passage of the health district, mental health, preventative medicine and primary-care access, are not the wish list of some administrators or committee, but real needs, sought by real people today. Those needs are putting a strain on our entire local health-care system, as people require these services whether the resources are there or not.  So by backfilling additional support through the passage of the health district, it alleviates the strain that currently exists, allowing our system to better deliver services to everyone. Because everyone eventually accesses health care.

Another additional benefit to the creation of the La Plata County Health District is an element of local control, and local control is always preferable to the alternative.  Therefore, I, the Board of Directors for the Durango Chamber of Commerce and LEAD encourage the citizens of La Plata County to vote yes for the La Plata County Health District.

– Sincerely, Bobby Lieb, executive director, Durango Chamber of Commerce & La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership

The real world of La Plata County

Dear Editors,

Personally, I support the formation of the proposed Health Services District, and I acknowledge that there are people who do not support it, and I can respect that. What I cannot respect are statements made by very vocal representatives of the opposition that totally misrepresent the goals of the district, the motives of those who have worked to organize this effort to form the district, and the need for the services that the district will provide. I don’t know what fantasy world these opponents live in, but it is not the La Plata County real world, in which there are people of all ages and circumstances who actually have medical needs that are not being met, and people who actually scramble to make it in our community while not “living large on our (or anybody’s) dime.” To state that there “are people who are purposefully underemployed, people who have a job and are not trying very hard” is as insulting a slap in the face as could ever be delivered to the thousands of working people in our community who struggle to build and maintain a life here for themselves and their families. Such comments come from those of a privileged class who have no idea of what life in our community is like for thousands of people who inconveniently just happen to be their neighbors.

Forming this district will make a positive difference in our lives and in our future. We as a community cannot rely on what possibly might happen at the state or federal level. We have an opportunity with the Health Services District to be increasingly self-reliant, and that is as strong a position as we can work to achieve.

– Josh Joswick, Bayfield

Physical and economic health

Dear Editors,

I am encouraging all La Plata County registered voters to vote “yes” for the Health Service District. The Health Service District not only addresses a moral issue but also addresses a financial issue which affects all of us in La Plata County. The uninsured and even those on Medicare often delay obtaining health care until their situation becomes serious. This leads to longer, more expensive care, including hospitalization. We all pay for this care in the form of higher medical costs to compensate for expenses incurred by those unable to pay. Further, if an individual has an infectious disease and delays treatment due to financial reasons, his friends, classmates or co-workers are more likely to need health care because of unnecessary exposure to this disease. The financial impact is then multiplied to include many people, the school, the employer and potentially, everyone. A Health Service District that provides access to even the most basic care and information will help curtail the spread of disease, and thus improve the physical and economic health of our entire community.

– Nadine Ancel, R.N., Durango