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Your Views Sunday, March 1

Lots of sound and fury among Democrats

I watched the Democratic debate on Feb. 19, hoping to learn where each candidate stood on the issues. Although I did hear a little about the economy, the homeless and free college tuition, I waited to hear a positive unifying element. There wasn’t one, unless you count “Beat Trump.” At least Bernie Sanders, with whom I disagree vehemently, admits he is a socialist. He is a modern-day Robin Hood who would take from the rich and give to the poor, presumably through radical tax restructuring.

The progressive candidates reminded me of a passage from Shakespeare. They are “the poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Mary S. Smith, Bethany

Merit protection bill should be defeated

Please ask your state representative to vote no on House Bill 3094. Rather than truly modernizing state government, this bill would return Oklahoma to the days of political patronage, inefficient service delivery and corruption commonly known as “the spoils system.”

Legislation to reform Oklahoma’s state hiring practices was first proposed in 1919, 1930 and 1950 due to “a litany of abuses – over-staffing, padded payrolls, high turnover, arbitrary leaves and absences, and incompetence in job performance,” according to OU Professor H.O. Waldby. Elected leaders resisted reform. Waldby concluded in 1950 that hiring based on entrenched political patronage “has resulted in financial losses of millions of dollars ... and has created a serious distrust in government.”

Over the Legislature’s objections, Gov. J. Howard Edmondson in 1959 managed to pass reform legislation that established the current merit protection system. The goal was replacing patronage politics with professional personnel procedures, including hiring by competitive examination. For the first time, the merit system prohibited state employees from asking citizens for political contributions or working for political bosses on their state jobs.

It appears HB 3094 could effectively end merit protection put in place to protect citizens from the incompetence, corruption and turnover of ever-changing state employees. Citizens deserve competent government services by employees who know what they’re doing.

Please ask your state representative to do us all a favor and vote no on HB 3094.

Red Goldfarb, Yukon

Where’s the mute button when you need it?

Is there a rational reason why the moderators of political debates do not have on/off buttons to control the microphones of the presidential candidates? It seems that every board, city and council hearing room in Oklahoma has them.

Bob Kellogg, Edmond

Colon cancer screening can save your life

Every time I diagnose a colon cancer, I feel like the system has failed. Too many of our fellow citizens in Oklahoma get this preventable cancer.

Colon cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, behind lung cancer. There will be an estimated 145,000 cases of colorectal cancer this year, yet the survival rate is very high if it is found early. My goal as a gastroenterologist is not only to find cancer but to prevent it. Most cancers start as precancerous polyps that can be easily and painlessly removed at the time of a colonoscopy. The earlier a polyp is found, the better.

Since colonoscopy was approved in 2001, the incidence of colon cancer has dropped significantly. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown a significant rise of the cancer in younger people. Approximately 15% of cases now occur in those younger than 50. This finding led the American Cancer Society in 2018 to change its recommendation to start colon cancer screenings at age 45.

If you are not having symptoms, you should start screening between age 45-50 depending on your insurance coverage. If you are having symptoms, such as a change in bowel habits or blood in your stool, then get checked. If you have a family member who has had colon cancer, then get checked 10 years prior to the age they were when diagnosed.

Arun Sachdev, M.D., Oklahoma City

Sachdev is a gastroenterologist with Integris.

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