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    Letters

    04/01/2001

    Legal doesn't always mean right

    Re: U.N. conference on arms trafficking:

    The small arms trade is a profitable $12 billion a year business that the United States justifies under the ruse of our right to bear arms.

    This is a poor excuse for taking part in an unethical business that makes money off the suffering of others. Does selling guns to countries where there is corruption, poverty and no rule of law help anyone? Even if these sales are legal, does it really excuse us of any responsibility? The photo of the 5-year-old African girl who lost her leg and her parents from gun violence speaks volumes. What about her rights?

    LYNN KEE

    Austin

    Hybrid confusion

    I have read a lot about hybrid cars, so I was delighted to see the thorough and positive review on the Toyota Prius which appeared in the July 14 American-Statesman.

    My husband and I have decided that we are in the market for a hybrid, so we recently visited both a Honda and Toyota dealership in Austin. Upon mentioning that we were interested in the Insight at the Honda dealership, we were handed a brochure, told that the 2002 models would be available soon, got a quick answer to our price question and were out of there in less than two minutes.

    It took a little longer at the Toyota dealership, because the salesman had to go find a brochure for us, and with each question we asked, he had to go find the answer from someone else. He finally admitted he had never even seen a Prius.

    With that attitude, how is the general public to know that these cars exist?

    VIRGINIA M. FRANKE

    Austin

    Thought crimes

    I certainly agree with the principle expressed in Bob Herbert's July 20 column, "Seven years in prison for thinking." It is wrong to punish someone for his thoughts.

    If you agree, how can you support "hate crime" legislation, which does exactly that? Many horrendous crimes are committed because of hatred, but they are already punishable under other laws; the attending circumstances are considered in sentencing.

    "Hate crime" laws are in violation of (in Herbert's words) "that most fundamental of freedoms -- freedom of thought."

    O. D. FERRIS

    Austin

    Doubting deregulation

    Before people buy this deregulation bit, may I suggest they ask our political representatives two questions.

    First, how have other states fared? Every state that has gone this route has seen gas and electric rates go up 60 percent to 120 percent.

    Second, how can they say rates will fall because we say the word? I have worked in the utility business for 38 years, and the factors that control rates are vast and complex, as we are finding out the hard way.

    Finally, when a state deregulates, it lets companies from all over the country supply your power and those companies simply have little or no feeling that your local guy would have for its customers.

    Let the politicians show you one state where it has worked.

    FREDERICK G. SCHMALBERGER

    Georgetown

    The green menace

    The July 18 editorial "Presentation dilutes message behind Bush's energy plan " says that the opposition dominated the meeting held by U.S. Reps. Tom DeLay, John Culberson and Kevin Brady to explain President Bush's energy proposal. The room actually was about equally divided between supporters and those opposing, and the majority of those excluded from the meeting because of space limitations were supporters.

    These trained dissenters were not interested in open and honest debate but attempted to promote their redistribution of wealth agenda.

    Tom DeLay was wrong on one point only, however -- these people are not radical environmentalists -- they are socialists and the general public needs to wake up and realize that there is a hidden agenda behind their green cloak of environmentalism.

    CAROL JONES

    Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy

    Marble Falls

    Creating mental health

    I was troubled by the misinformation in two July 10 letters about mental health.

    Brain mapping techniques, genetic and epidemiological studies and even pathology examinations have shown discernible, measurable differences in the brains of those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. I know of hundreds of men and women with severe brain disorders who have been stabilized on medication and are now living independent and productive lives.

    One letter's assertion that antidepressants cause 10 percent of patients to enter a manic state is an overstatement. Those with major depression experience a manic switch in less than 1 percent of cases.

    The fact that chemotherapy and insulin may have serious side effects and are unsuccessful in treating some patients hardly negates their effectiveness for many others. So, too, with psychotropic medications.

    DR. JIM VAN NORMAN

    Director

    Medical & Clinical Management Services

    Austin Travis County MHMR Center

    'Appropriate' treatment

    A July 15 letter talks about appropriate treatment for mental illness. What is "appropriate treatment"?

    The preferred treatment in a system restricted by managed care and driven by the pharmaceutical industry is prescription pad therapy. It takes only 15 minutes a month and makes the pharmaceutical industry rich.

    What may have been "appropriate treatment" for our 12-year-old daughter, Caitlin, was not helpful. After less than two months of "appropriate treatment" involving four powerful psychotropic drugs and little else, she committed suicide.

    We were never informed that the antidepressant had an associated risk of suicide, nor were we informed that these drugs had never been tested on children.

    Managed care does not allow the psychiatric profession the time to come to terms with an explosion of information regarding psychiatric illness and treatments. I wish we had tried other treatments.

    MARY and GLENN McINTOSH

    Suicide And Violence Education Resource Service

    Austin

    Coming Friday

    Readers speak out about the implications of Gov. Rick Perry's veto of a bill that would have forced insurers to pay health-care providers promptly.

    on 7/26/01.