Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JUNE 30, 2009 7:21 AM

Columnist pokes fun at sensitive topic

There are those of us for whom the recession very much exists.

To us, Dean Treftz’s column (DI, June 29) “Are you there, recession? It’s me, Iowa City,” is akin to a man wandering through a burn ward and loudly fantasizing about getting skin grafts.

We come from hard-hit communities across this state and this country — we see the recession in our hometowns and we hear it in our parents’ voices. We have watched our coworkers, friends, and loved ones struggle with the pain of unemployment. We are underpaid and tired. We have lost our health insurance and know that the most mundane injury could be our financial ruin. We will set off for one job this morning, another this evening and when we return home late tonight we will scan the newspaper for a third. We will go to sleep tonight, in this economic Eden and wonder how much longer we will be able to cling to our jobs, our homes, and our dreams of a college education.

If Treftz is so sincere about his desire to experience this recession, there are volunteer organizations in Detroit, Youngstown, Elkhart, and El Centro that would no doubt love to have a volunteer as earnest and erudite as he. However, if this is too intense for Treftz’s “upper-middle-class adventure into reality,” then fear not. I am certain that given the state of the newspaper industry and the quality of his work that Treftz, too, may soon understand all too well what it’s like to be unemployed and desperate in America.

Justin Sharp
UI student

Pitcher is source of pride for local Taiwanese

My heart was racing on Sunday night while I was watching the Yankees-Mets game. It was the bottom of the eighth inning, there were two outs, the Yankees led 3-2, closer Mariano Rivera was pitching with runners on the corners, and he finally struck out Met hitter Omir Santos to get out of the mess. I relaxed. The Yankees went on to beat the Mets, 4-2. This was a milestone victory for the Yankee closer: Rivera picked up his 500th save of his career. However, this was not what I was really excited about. It was the starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang’s first win of the season that thrilled me.

I’m not such a big Yankee fan, but I like Wang. I am a Taiwanese who loves baseball, and Wang is no doubt the most successful Taiwanese baseball player so far. He has posted two-consecutive 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007 for the Yankees. Since then, he has become a potent figure in Taiwan and has enjoyed tremendous fame. Sometimes I have even felt tired of his overwhelming popularity in Taiwan. However, this win is a big one for him. He had been struggling this year with no wins and six losses.

Here in Iowa City, many from Taiwan follow the Yankees just to see Wang pitch. They cheer when Wang is great; they are gloomy when he is not so great. I bet many Taiwanese folks here (or anywhere) are comforted by Wang’s win.

Yu-Kuei Sun
UI graduate student

Grassley should disclose his own information

Sen. Charles Grassley, the self-declared watchdog for conflicts of interest at academic medical institutions, recently wrote a letter to 23 medical schools. He requested information about their conflict of interest policies and disclosure of federal research dollars the pharmaceutical industry donations to staff physicians. This is a textbook case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Asking for a response by July 15, Grassley said in a press release “disclosure of those ties would help to build confidence that there’s nothing to hide.”

As an Iowa voter, I feel the same way about transparency regarding Grassley’s financial ties to pharmacies, the insurance industry, and the mortgage industry.

The pharmaceutical industry donated more than $87,000 to Grassley’s campaign after he drafted legislation for Medicare Part D in 2004 in which Medicare is prevented from negotiating bulk drug prices for seniors.

The “bankrupt” AIG has donated $8,000 in taxpayer dollars to Grassley’s 2010 re-election campaign, according to opensecrets.org. Grassley voted for the TARP legislation under the Bush administration that bailed out AIG and legalized huge CEO bonuses. AIG has donated nearly $75,000 to Grassley’s campaign over the last three election cycles. In rewarding members of Congress for their votes, the taxpayer-bailed out AIG is using our money to help them get re-elected.

By shining a light on the medical community, Grassley is putting his own conflicts of interest under the microscope, namely his relationship with big business at the expense of his constituents.

Julia LaBua
West Branch

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