Elder Abuse, No Jackson, Social Security, Cancer

Foxnews.com readers had some spirited opinions to offer on Wendy McElroy’s column on elder abuse, as well as on Ken Adelman’s confidence that war with Iraq would be a cakewalk.

Readers also responded to Eric Burns’ choice not to discuss the Michael Jackson case on Fox News Watch and Radley Balko’s support of multinational corporations. Other topics of debate were social security and a false report claiming that playground equipment wood caused cancer.

Here's a sample of this week’s mail:

In response to ifeminists:

Pam Sapp writes:

I do believe that the government has to step in when abuse is taking place, even if it means doing so against the will of the victim. I have several reasons for this. One is that the most obvious victim--the elderly person to whom the ill treatment is directed--is not always the only victim. Frequently there are children in the home where the abuse is occurring.

I believe a child living in that home runs a greater than average risk of himself being abused, but even if he is not, I maintain that it is child abuse for them to even be a witness to the unchecked mistreatment of another person in the home. I feel the same way when it is spouse abuse. And in institutional abuse, why should the taxpayers be subsidizing (in most cases we are) persons in their maltreatment of the elderly?

Bob Hodous writes:

In my practice, I do some estate planning and work some with the elderly. One of the most interesting problems is, when should a child intervene and how? Steps often are taken to curb choices of a parent when they are deemed improper in the child’s eyes. But, while the parent is essentially competent, often such intervention can lead to quicker degeneration of the older person by causing such person to have even less faith in his or her own judgment.

Robert Wurtz II writes:

The greatest problem is not abuse -- it's neglect. Children who haven't seen their own parents in years-- family members that dump their elderly parents off and come back only every several months. Then they ease their own violated conscience by looking for bruises and bed sores. Start a campaign to get the children and grandchildren to show some respect and spend some time with their parents.

Brian Markle writes:

Since I am on the cusp of being an elder, this is germane to me. I agree with you 100 percent, but I am pessimistic. There will be a lot of political capital in this; so politicians, the self-serving white collar managers of government, will come in to execute the plans and prosecute the villains. The planned total socialization of the United States is pretty close at hand and family centered society has been almost completely vilified and regulated. Socialism has increased cost by excessive regulation in order to cancel the family influence. As a too soon to be elder, I am worried and sad.

Allison Ruff writes:

I urge to also consider the incidents that do not involve family members, acquaintances, or paid caregivers (institutional or community-based) in your discussion. Elderly individuals are often the targets of organized scams targeting their financial resources, however limited. The bottom line is that everyone -- the elder, the family, the neighbors, and general community -- needs to be better informed.

David Mongan writes:

The politics of the industry, and major media's attention to egregious cases, have contributed to a crisis of expectations. Elderly patients drive their families to guilt over "putting me in a home" and contend there is abuse (which generally consists of failing to respond to non-medical requests). The family believes it cannot care for "Dad" or "Grandma," and unfortunately have just watched a news special about the nursing home industry. They begin to believe that their guilt is misplaced, and shift it to the nursing home.

In my most recent case, the family sued for several million dollars, but when they filed the suit they also left their father in the same nursing home! When they were given options for other facilities, their father refused to be moved. As a baby boomer myself, I look forward to eventual retirement, but not to a nursing home. But I know from my own "inside view," that my concern relates to a lack of independence, not to potential abuse.


In response to Defense Central:

Michael R. Davis writes:

The assertion that this war, or any war, will be a "cake walk" is just plain uninformed. He need only ask any combat veteran. As I, or any other Purple Heart veteran would tell him, there is no such thing as a cakewalk in combat. There is only chaos, death and mayhem, which are followed by grief, sadness and deprivation.

Bill D’Auria writes:

While I agree we can defeat the Iraqi military, calling it a "cakewalk" ignores one of the political issues we will need to deal with afterwards: rebuilding Iraq. American personnel will need to be protected. Small groups of fanatics will need to be rooted out without upsetting or hurting the masses of Iraq. That will not be a cakewalk. We need to be aware of the full picture that needs to be done.

Kevin Eanes writes:

Ken Aldeman lists several desirable goals for the U.S. military in Iraq. I would like to add one more goal to this list: the protection of historical, cultural, and archeological sites. What is now modern-day Iraq was once ancient Mesopotamia, one of the world's first and oldest civilizations, and any military action should attempt to preserve historic sites for the benefit of future generations.


In response to Fox News Watch:

Barbara Goode writes:

Add me to your list of e-mailers supporting your program not talking about Michael Jackson last Saturday. You've got too much class to discuss how many nose jobs Jackson had and whether he is a "perverted pedophile Peter Pan".

Cougar Smith writes:

I thank you too, but please... please do report and show the event when his nose does finally fall off, OK? I want to see how he keeps his sunglasses from falling off...

Anonymous writes:

While I agree the relevance of the Michael Jackson interview was close to none, it's ironic you still feel compelled to write a column about it and applaud your viewers who obviously also feel very strongly one way or another about Jackson, given their reactions.

Ron Thomas writes:

I'm sorry that I did not see the show people are complimenting you for. However, I find it very refreshing to see such use of airtime by ignoring this whole Michael Jackson frenzy. It says something interesting about the level of judgment of much of America, that so much time, money and energy is spent on this celebrity worship. There are so many things going on in this country and the world today that need serious attention and thought. Keep up the good work and keep your mind clear of all this trash.


In response to Straight Talk:

Vernon Henning writes:

Thanks for showing us that the efforts of private companies around the world to help their communities can be motivated by profit and still be praiseworthy. Phony altruism and "high-mindedness" that yields no benefits for real people is worthless.

Ron Thomas writes:

It probably goes back to the old adage, "Money is the root of all evil." However, the correct wording is, "Love of money is the root of all evil." Profit is not bad, but profit for bad purposes is evil as well.

Bob Phinney writes:

I was especially pleased to see you point out that "all we see on television are the stone throwers and rabble rousers." It only takes five or six people to fill the lens of a TV camera, but the news makes it sound like the whole population was taking part. Maybe we should insist that TV news (like the right-hand mirrors on our cars) carry a message saying "objects in this video may be less numerous than they appear."

Terry Cullen writes:

People have misconceptions about the McDonaldization of the world. It has provided the world with the two greatest commodities: technology and information. As you make so clear in your article, McDonald's raises the bar on cleanliness, efficiency and competition. From an economic standpoint, the introduction of McDonalds into a foreign economy raises the level of competition. This results in a trimming of fat, so to speak, and betters consumer prices. I would equate this to dropping Michael Jordan into a pick-up game. Yes, some people leave because they can't compete. But, the ones that stay flourish and have gained innumerous insights into how to be the best.

Margie Lamb writes:

It is nice to read some positive comments about these two companies. Just because they are corporations doesn't make them all bad. Some of these frivolous lawsuits need to be stopped. It seems like these companies are making a contribution to society and more of this needs to be brought to everyone's attention.

Charley Hupp writes:

In 1950, I was a bachelor in Springfield, Ill. Breakfast, if I had orange juice, cost $1.75. I can have a breakfast today, 2003, at "fast food" restaurants in the USA for about the same price! Automobiles and houses cost about 10 times as much now as they did back then. In addition, you have less chance of getting food poisoning at one of the fast food franchises as in a fine (and expensive) restaurant. These franchises have many quality checks and monitor their quality checkpoints. These restaurants have done a marvelous job and deserve all of the success that they have enjoyed.

Milan Campbell, Jr. writes:

All we ever hear is negative news from anti-business sources and criticism from the rank and file about the fat cats. Well, the fat cats write the checks, take the risks, put in the hours, and are more than likely to be educated. For this and more they are smeared as all being villains. Hollywood moguls and stars make at least as much as most executives and they are held in a much more favorable light. Business executives are sometimes ruthless, cutthroat and out for the bottom line at any cost, however most contribute mightily to their communities, and most people would rather lead the lifestyle but are unwilling to pay the price. The average citizen, our country, and the whole world better realize we need these corporations!

Clarence C. Young III writes:

Are these companies villains? Hardly. Are they sugar and saturated fat drug dealers? Hardly. My grandfather drank cokes during WWII and up to the day he died. He was fit and trim as are members in my entire family. It isn't what you eat or drink that makes one obese. It is your inability to control yourself. And for this, I blame the lack of leadership in our schools, homes, government, and those in the legal system that, again, would promote "The Big Lie" for profit. We have McDonalds and Coca Cola being served in our schools today rather than the school run cafeterias properly! These people are, in my opinion, the real villains.


In response to CATO: Another Death Tax:

Sam Alessi writes:

I've heard this argument over and over, and it always comes from people who are so wealthy that Social Security is just another savings account bearing a poor return. You never view it in terms of the safe, stable lifeboat that forms the foundation of income for the majority of senior citizens.

Dennis Farmer writes:

No where in the United States Constitution is the power given to the federal government to take workers' pay for retirement, nor has an amendment been added to allow this power. It is not the federal government, nor any government's responsibility, to ensure retirement. Furthermore, the Unites States Supreme Court has already ruled that the money taken out under the auspice of "social security" is not yours and you are not entitled to it. Thusly, the federal government could at anytime stop Social Security payments and as it stands now, there is absolutely nothing the U.S. citizen could do about.

In response to Junk Science:

Jimmy Tanner writes:

What next? Should we demolish every deck, patio and dock in the U.S. that contains CCA treated wood? How silly.

Jeffrey Devine writes:

It never ceases to amaze me how many people will get so upset and hyped up over health risks that can barely be measured. Yet, these same people regularly engage in behavior that greatly increases the health risks of children. Smokers seem to be the worst offenders of this.

Several friends of ours regularly smoke in the house with their children present and smoke in their car, with the windows rolled up, when their kids are with them. I also have one business associate who complains about the pollution from power plants in the Midwest wrecking the air quality for him in the east. I can't quite understand his concern. He is doing far more damage to his health smoking a pack of cigarettes a day than some immeasurable quantity of particulate that he might breathe in from a power plant located 1,000 miles away!

Steven Zell writes:

Now that we find out that wooden playscapes pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate may slightly increase the risk of cancer in children playing on them, people should seriously consider the alternatives. If outdoor wooden playscapes are not pressure-treated, they will quickly rot. There is a much higher risk of children being injured falling from a playscape that breaks under their weight. It is also possible to protect wood against weathering by pressure-treating with creosote, which is rich in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), some of which are also known carcinogens. It is also possible to use metal playscapes, although they are more likely to cause injury when children fall on them. They are much colder to the touch than wood, meaning that children with numb hands might risk losing their grip and falling in cold weather. Another option would be to use plastic, although plastic playscapes strong enough to support a child's weight might be more expensive than wood.

Terry Flynn writes:

And there's another factor driving this issue. Asbestos abatement contractors, regulators, and consultants are running out of work. Demonizing CCA wood will give them additional decades of abatement work. The techniques to abate asbestos easily transfer to CCA wood. It's a big scam to create work.

Anonymous writes:

My husband is in the CCA business and has been defending his company against law suits and bad press. The EPA has been very fair on this issue but the CPSA is out of control.