Your Mail: Dialogue Begins

I called my article on USAA’s mistreatment of my friend Gina “Let the Dialogue Begin,” and with your responses, it certainly did. Unfortunately, I was not surprised to hear that many of you had experienced similar treatment, while others felt there was something missing from the story. Thanks to the many of you who offered to contact USAA on Gina’s behalf.

Dennis Powel writes:
Gina's experience, while a little extreme, is duplicated all across our fine country; the worst cases are with single older ladies. I've told my daughters, never, never, take your car to a garage, get your husband to or call me.

I wish I could say you were exaggerating, but I know you weren't. The double standard is alive and well. I hope Gina's son is OK. May Gina soon be the owner of an insurance company.

SRE: Thanks for your well wishes and for pointing out those other good examples. I agree we’d be better off if her business ethics were applied by USAA.

Thomas Cook writes:
I am a moderate to conservative Republican, so I don't always find myself in total agreement with a lot of your opinions; however, the treatment of this woman by the USAA insurance company was one of the most outrageous things that I have heard in a long time.

Unfortunately, it is not altogether surprising, as I have seen this in my own family. My aunt's house in Atascadero, Calif., was severely damaged by an earthquake a couple of years ago and remains uninhabitable.

Between the inaction by the insurance company and outright fraud by the contractor, she has been delayed all this time, during which she has also had to deal with the death of her husband and the birth of her first granddaughter. Fortunately, she has retained adequate counsel, so the matter should be close to a resolution.

SRE: Yes, it seems these situations will be resolved by lawyers when the victim has the savvy to retain one, which will just make everyone’s premiums rise. Thanks for sharing your aunt’s story.

The other dialogue was sparked by my article on our lawmakers and evolution. Many of you pointed out the ways in which the theory of evolution and creation can coexist, but I was more engaged by your comments on global warming.

Gabriel Jim of Norman, Okla., writes:

I don't believe in evolution. Somehow, the theory of evolution trumps the law of biogenesis and the law of entropy. Evolution ultimately brings out the irrationality and biasness of all people, especially its proponents.

My prediction is global warming likely will meet the same fate as '70s doomsday predictions of global cooling and running out of oil by 2000. Scientists were wrong then, and there's a chance they're wrong today.

We ought to be honest and confess we do not have sufficient data to make absolute conclusions about evolution and global warming. All we have are trends, and they could be misleading and even wrong.

SRE: Thanks, Gabriel, I think this is an excellent point that parties on both sides should concede. There is excellent scientific evidence that global warming is occurring, but we do not know the point at which a non-linear shift in climate will occur or cannot even begin to understand all of the variables at play.

It’s true that "An Inconvenient Truth" is only one of many possible scenarios for climate change, but the debate ought not to be whether climate change is occurring but on how to proceed in the face of uncertainty.

Ron D’Angelo of Rochester, N.Y., writes:
What does the theory of evolution have to do with “global warming”? Darwin was wrong, but only in the details and mechanism. Steven Jay Gould and others updated and refined the theory, but the evidence is overwhelming. It doesn’t even contradict religious belief, really.

But global warming is an increasingly troubled, politically charged belief system (religion) without any firm proof and with mounting evidence to the contrary, in fact. Every day, more and more scientists, especially climatologists and experts in thermodynamics, are coming out of the closet and saying, “not so fast!”

This is the opposite pattern that Darwin’s theories took in the scientific world.

SRE: Every day scientists are discovering the many variables that come to play in climate, of which we haven’t even begun to catalogue many. For those who are interested, a fair and excellent primer on climate change was issued by the Congressional Budget Office: Click here to view it.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.

A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.

Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.