Appeal to emotion does not make Nelb’s policy ‘good government’

To the Editor:

I was surprised yesterday that Robert Nelb’s column had the contentious title “Good government means protecting kids” and then only addressed how government can more efficiently enroll uninsured children into state-funded health insurance plans, and not why good government ought to even be concerned with providing health insurance.

The title puts its opponents in the uncomfortable position of saying, “Good government means callous indifference toward sick children.” The unfortunate thing is that these appeals to emotion are why our government grows too big: There are very clear beneficiaries to these programs, but as a society we fail to see the opportunities we nip in the bud by taking money from everyone to fund these programs.

It is very hard for a legislator at any level of government to say to his constituency that he opposes the government helping sick children. But what if that same congressman had to face the businesswoman who cannot provide more jobs because of her now-higher taxes? As the French political economist Frederic Bastiat said 150 years ago, it is a problem of what is seen and what is not seen. We see the immediate benefit of children’s having insurance, but we fail to see its full costs to every member of society and opportunities lost because of government interference.

If we really want to help working families pay for insurance, we ought to work toward making health care less expensive. John Edwards is running for president by promising to help the poor, but it is opportunistic trial lawyers like him who have made health care unaffordable for most through ridiculous malpractice suits that pass the costs down to everyone else in the system. If we reform our tort laws to reduce doctors’ malpractice liabilities, we can start passing the savings onto the sick children at the bottom, not another luxury home for John Edwards.

Jake McGuire

Sept. 11

The writer is a sophomore in Pierson College.

Amid hassles of starting graduate school, make time for advocacy

To the Editor:

If you are student who has just arrived in New Haven to start a graduate program, there is a long list of things you need to do: find housing, become familiar with the campus, and meet all your new professors and colleagues, to name a few. Chances are that student advocacy is not on that list. As the year goes on, however, and the seemingly big problems of today become an easy part of the daily routine, I urge you to make room for advocacy in your life here at Yale.

For myself, advocacy means working with fellow students, professors and administrators to make sure that the interests of graduate students are heard and their needs met. Yale, like most educational institutions, is not a monolithic organization where everyone works toward the same end. It is made up of diverse groups of people, departments and offices, each pursuing different and often conflicting goals. It is the ongoing dialogue among these groups that determines University policy, and it is essential that the voices of graduate students occupy a prominent place in the discussion.

Several organizations that represent graduate student interests, and there are many paths to becoming a student advocate. In the end, though, advocacy is a voluntary pursuit, and each individual must find the path that works best for him or her. After three years, I have finally found a balance between my professional goals, my personal life and my desire to improve the situation of graduate students at Yale. I have had successes and setbacks in all of those areas, but, without a doubt, advocacy has greatly enriched my experience here in New Haven and my understanding of the word of higher education. I am glad I decided to put it on my list.

Nicholas Goodbody

Sept. 7

The writer is a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and publicity chair for the Graduate Student Assembly.