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Regulation of the Drug Trade

The article "US Drug War Picks Up in Central America," May 14, details increased cocaine shipments and corruption only in Guatemala. But the same story could be told about Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. The article begins, "With the success of drug-interdiction in the Caribbean.... " I question this success. An aide to Guatemala's president, asked about drug trade, says, "We see this as a real threat to our society, to our economic and political structure." Of course it is - and the United States faces the same threat.

Until the drug market is regulated, and the phenomenon of drugs in the environment is brought under control through law, powerful gangsters will exclusively dominate this trade. Alcohol prohibition created social and political crises in US cities in the 1920s, and drug prohibition is creating similar crises in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Prohibition makes cocaine the most valuable commodity, by weight, on the planet, and perversely, it protects criminals from competition and regulation. Drug use an d

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distribution are complex problems that need to be managed; management cannot be left to the violent techniques of gangsters or the military.

Eric E. Sterling, Washington,

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Cost-conscious health care

The article "Balanced Health Coverage and Small Business Concerns," May 14, fails to address the basic problem: Skyrocketing health-care costs are putting adequate health insurance beyond the reach of all but the very wealthy. That various segments of the health-care industry are at or near the top of profitable industry rankings tells us something about exorbitant costs.

We need a cost-conscious US health-care system that will eliminate profiteering and inefficiencies, drastically curb malpractice awards, prevent unnecessary duplications of facilities, equipment, and staffing, and stop uncalled-for examinations and tests. We need more self-help and preventive-care education, more at-home care. The crisis will not be solved by more insurance payments. Only Congress can take charge of this crisis.

Richard Dunann, Mendocino, Calif.

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