I’m afraid I must respond to the Op-Ed piece by Ms. Della Rocca. A minimum research effort reveals the fact that the City of Burlington does not mandate a "liveable" wage for all businesses, big box or otherwise, through its Liveable Wage Ordinance.

I quote from the Ordinance’s findings and purposes: "The City of Burlington is committed to ensuring that its employees have an opportunity for a decent quality of life and are compensated such that they are not dependent on public assistance to meet their basic needs; the City of Burlington is committed, through its contracts with vendors and provision of financial assistance, to encourage the private sector to pay its employees a liveable wage and contribute to employee health care benefits; It is the intention of the city in passing this article to provide a minimum level of compensation for employees of the City of Burlington and employees of entities that enter into service contracts or receive financial assistance from the City of Burlington."

It is clear that this is not a mandate for all businesses in Burlington. It only deals with its employees and those whose contracts or assistance the city controls.

I did check with Town counsel back when the board was having this discussion to see if we could mandate a liveable wage for large retailers. He confirmed that the town could not legally do that.

STUART A. HURD

Town Manager

Bennington

Get rid of insurance companies

Vermont State Sen. Joe Benning should first get his facts straight. He writes "There are some things we all agree with. We have the finest medical delivery system in the world and we don’t want to lose it."

The fact is that our medical delivery system is a huge failure. The free market competition approach has been in effect for over 60 years and it does not work for health care. Insurance companies are much more interested in their profit than in our health. They waste our health care dollars on their bureaucracy (your premiums pay for huge executive salaries/bonuses, advertising, useless administrative hassles, stockholder dividends, and political contributions.) They, along with the drug/technology manufacturers, the hospitals, and the medical profession have failed to hold down costs (we pay twice as much for our health care as other industrialialized nations). They have tried to insure the healthy and to reject the unhealthy. In particular, they have attempted to avoid patients with preexisting conditions. They have left 50 million Americans uninsured because people cannot afford the cost of insurance. Even if they do insure you, they leave you to pay a substantial amount of money out of pocket for high deductibles and copays.

In regards to the health outcomes of our system, consider the following. An estimated 40,000 Americans died last year because they had no access to health care. When compared with other high-income nations (such as western European countries, Japan, Canada and Australia) the United States ranks near the bottom. Americans live shorter lives, have higher infant mortality, have higher death rates from violence, have higher teen pregnancy rates, have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

We in Vermont might be a bit better off than most of the nation, but our own health care costs will soon overwhelm us if we don’t act. It is time to adopt a single payer system in Vermont. Cut out the insurance companies. Simplify. Of course, it would be best if the whole nation adopted such a system, but Vermont could lead the way.

G. RICHARD DUNDAS, MD

Bennington