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The Cost of Keeping One Man AliveI have been a reader for many years and never have i been more touched by an article than by "Lessons of a $618,616 Death" (In Depth, Mar. 15). I am a 28-year-old man and a director of operations for a marketing firm in Chicago. I have never cried in my life in a movie or while reading a book, but something about this article touched me. I think this is the best example i have read to date about needed reforms to our health-care system.
Damien M. Proctor, Director of Operations, Tip-Top Branding, Chicago
A quarter million dollars in Other People's Money was paid by thee and me through taxes and insurance premiums to enable one self-centered family to "look down at the Mediterranean from a sunny balcony in southern Spain...[and take] a carriage ride through Philadelphia's cobbled streets" in a futile bid for immortality. Can there be any better argument for "death panels"?
Paul N. Wenger, West Hartford, Conn.Workplace Injuries: AK Steel RespondsWith regard to "Caution: Stats May Be Slippery" (Mar. 22 & 29), it is Bloomberg BusinessWeek's reporting that may be slippery. You cite an injury from 2005 not recorded with OSHA as evidence of under-reporting. What you failed to report is that our court challenge in that case was a Kentucky Workers' Compensation claim, and it was not an OSHA-recordable injury. State Workers' Compensation programs and OSHA often have different definitions for work-related injuries.
It is preposterous to suggest that we would try to hide an OSHA injury while publicly appealing the workers' compensation claim all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The premise that lower insurance costs would drive underreporting is equally absurd. As a self-insured company, AK Steel (AKS) annually spends 10 times more for injury prevention than for medical claims resulting from workplace injuries.
You failed to note that our company has third-party audits of our injury logs conducted by a former OSHA area director, and OSHA itself has audited our logs and medical records. In the latter case, two incidents (out of 350 records over five years) were moved from "first aid" to "medical treatment" because prescription medications had been administered.
Finally, your bar chart gives AK Steel a 0.3 injury rate—20% higher than our actual rate of 0.25.
Alan H. McCoy. Vice-President, Government & Public Relations, AK Steel, West Chester, OhioMonkey See, Monkey Do at the BanksIn "First, Slap Limits on Bank Leverage" (New Business, Mar. 22 & 29), an important point not made is that there is tremendous competition between banks. If one lowers its lending standards, in the short run it becomes more profitable because it takes in lots of new business. Other banks then are forced to follow into the new and more dangerous waters. If they do not, profits lessen, bonuses shrink, employees leave, and the stock price declines. That is why we need government regulation—guidelines for a level playing field and risks understood by all the players.
Ronald E. Miller, Principal, Plaatsdale Investment Advisors, Branford, Conn.No Limits on Corporate GiftsRegarding Jack Bogle's Obamaesque rant on the Supreme Court ("It's Time to Stand Up to the Supreme Court," Outside Shot, Mar. 22 & 29): The way it works, gentlemen, is that shareholders elect directors, who elect officers. Together they decide what is best for the company. If shareholders don't like the results, they either elect different directors or sell their shares.
Norris Goff, Linden, Va.
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