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In the U.S. political conventions, we saw The Donald rant about making America great again, while Democrats hyperbolized about how America is already the greatest country on Earth.
Surely greatness must consist of more than mindless chants of "USA, USA" and the military capacity to destroy the world. It should be measured by how a country delivers for its citizens. Lifestyle's latest listing of the best places to live puts the U.S. 24th out of 30 countries. The WHO ranks the U.S. health system 37th in the world. A 2015 OECD study of global education systems put the U.S. at 29th. The U.S. has a dismal record of income distribution (34th of 35 countries in a 2012 UNICEF survey on child poverty).
It does lead in gun deaths, three times the per capita level of any other developed country. The Donald won't make America great by doubling down on guns and military spending. But neither will self-congratulatory cheerleading and complacency by Hillary.
A short story by Graham Greene, Across the Bridge, contrasted a squalid Mexican bordertown with perceptions by the locals that a shining city must exist on the other side. Looking at poverty rates approaching 50 per in Detroit, 35 per cent in Buffalo and 30 per cent in Bellingham, I am very glad to live on the other side of American "greatness."
Tom MacDonald, Ottawa
Trust issues …
There seems to be a virus going around in the newspaper business and I am concerned for you. Four major U.S. newspapers (The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and Houston Chronicle) put solo pictures of Bill Clinton on their covers on Friday as they announced Hillary Clinton's historic victory.
The Globe put the story of Hillary Clinton's historic nomination inside the front section. Inexplicably, the headline – Clinton Casts Herself As Unifying Force – made no mention that she is the first female presidential nominee of a major political party in the world's most powerful country.
Shocked and dismayed doesn't begin to cover it. Shame on you Globe and Mail. I think I might start having trust issues.
Gail Picco, Toronto
When an ignorant, aggrandizing narcissist harangues us mercilessly in his bid to become president, his image is given full front-page treatment the next day, with a headline in capital letters at the top of the page (Trump Targets Clinton In Hard-Line Speech – July 22). When Hillary Clinton (former First Lady and secretary of state) makes history as the country's first female nominee for the presidency and gives an inspiring acceptance speech that sets out actual policy and seeks to unite the country, what does The Globe do? An index item in the bottom corner of the front page.
Shame on you. Are the ceilings in your newsroom made of steel, not glass?
Felicity Garrard, Ottawa
More basic than a tax
Isn't there a more basic question than how much tax foreigners should pay on real estate purchases? Do we know how much property (residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural) is owned by non-citizens and/or non-residents? A few years ago, the concern was European ownership of vast tracts of land in B.C. and elsewhere. Now, it's Asian ownership of housing. How much of Canada is and should be owned by others? Until we know that, today's issue is just of passing interest.
Evelyn H. Lazare, Richmond, B.C.
It's not 1947
Re Austerity And Monetary Policy Are Out Of Steam. We Need A New Marshall Plan (Report on Business, July 29): The world has been globalized. We can't put that genie back in the bottle, nor should we. The Marshall Plan worked, but it was the exception. Wholesale charity is not a wise course of action. If it were, we could have bought utopia years ago.
Besides globalization, which means that "our" common Joe has to compete with billions of other Joes around the world, there is technology. The normal human trait of hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor skills and ability to learn was once irreplaceable. It allowed labour to negotiate for a good share of the pie. Today, technology has drastically undermined the value of human labour.
Only higher reasoning abilities can add value. This is not like 1947. We can't just buy our way out. We need a truly new solution.
Claude Daley, St John's
Doctors' role in this
As someone who has worked for both the Ontario Medical Association and as a consultant to the Ministry of Health, I have not counselled MDs on how to vote on the province's contract offer, but I have tried to provide unvarnished analysis to them of the tentative agreement.
In a letter to the editor, Dr. J.J. Rosenberg projects that at the end of four years with a rising, but fixed annual budget for physician services, the deduction on physician earnings will be increased from the current 6.9 per cent to 11- to 12-per cent (Patients' Role In This – July 29). He might be correct, but he is more likely to be wrong. The way the contract is written, with no reduction to take place in the first year (although the billings would carry forward), and the fact that the annual budget is also a guaranteed floor means the potential benefits of a reduction below 6.9 per cent outweigh the risk. However, it does represent a risk/benefit ratio many physicians do not wish to take and that's their right.
There are many, many other pros and cons that must be debated, the most important of which is the requirement of patients and doctors to trust that the two sides will work together for the benefit of all. We have done that from 1997 to 2012, and there is no reason that we cannot do that again.
Elliot Halparin, MD, Toronto
Little pain relief
Re True Relief? (Folio, July 29): Although cannabis is viewed by many as a potent analgesic, the findings in this article do not support that. I agree. To add to the anecdotal evidence: In my clinic I assess more than 300 new chronic pain patients a year. The use of cannabis, either medical or bought on the street, is ubiquitous. However, very few of these patients admit to obtaining any significant pain relief, the most common positive effect is "relaxation" and decreased anxiety, which is a common symptom of those suffering from chronic pain.
Side effects are common, which may be related to the quality of the drug or significant variations (from 5 per cent to 25 per cent) in the concentration of the THC.
David Evans, MD, Wasser Pain Management Clinic, Toronto
Re Bettman's Legalese On Head Injuries Draws Ire Of Medical Community (July 28): When will people realize that it's a toss-up as to who is doing more to ruin hockey: Gary Bettman, Don Cherry or Rogers Sportsnet?
Bill Boyd, Lakefield, Ont.