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Malpractice

To the Editor:

Senator Mark Norris' Viewpoint (March 6th issue) is a simply scripted vernissage masquerading as news. These "bills" are canned legislation prepared in conservative thinkbins like those MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) given our soldiers.

A better way to resolve malpractice claims can be found. However, it will not come from pretextual legislation offered by a legislator like Norris, whose representation of health-care providers in his law practice casts a shadow across his sponsorship. As a citizen, I disclose my self-interest: I handle malpractice cases.

The insurance company Norris mentions left this writer and thousands of lawyers uninsured for malpractice along with a few physicians. I obtained new insurance and so can our physicians. Moreover, 98.5 percent of all peer-reviewed cases of malpractice go unnoticed, as reported in 1997 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Norris' statistic that the average malpractice verdict was $1 million has no basis in fact and overlooks the physician's "win rate" of near 90 percent, which reduces to a negligible amount the real vs. imagined liability they face.

Mark Ledbetter

Memphis

Crime and Truancy

To the Editor:

Regarding Mary Cashiola's article "Skippers in the Slammer?" (City Reporter, March 6th issue): There are direct correlations that can and should be established between crime and truancy. The majority of juveniles transferred to adult court have a history of truant behavior. According to Kenneth A. Turner, judge of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County, truancy is a "gateway" behavior. Just a quick glance at national averages will indicate that a high percentage of all convicted felons were educationally neglected, failing to achieve the minimum of a high school education.

Juvenile crime has not reached epidemic levels in our community thanks to the work of many individuals and agencies involved in the truancy initiative. Thankfully, our district attorney, William Gibbons, supports this initiative with the assignment of a full-time prosecutor and a campaign that takes a valuable message into our community. Instead of asking the question "Should parents go to jail if their kids play hooky?," you should be asking the question "Can society afford to lose another generation of children?"

The message from Gibbons' warning parents is crucial to the survival of our nation's youth. We need to join him and send a collective message into our communities, which is that the parents and guardians of our school-age children will be held responsible, accountable, culpable, and liable for the actions of their children.

Thomas Shouse

Memphis

Defense Business

To the Editor:

The Carlyle Group is the largest private equity firm in the world. It manages funds totaling over $14 billion. However, Carlyle has made huge amounts of money buying companies which were not publicly traded, overhauling them, and then selling them off at a profit. While some of the purchases have not done well, most have.

Consider the purchase of what is now United Defense Industries, Inc. Carlyle acquired United in 1997. Under Carlyle's management, United's debt was reduced significantly, and with "Washington-insider" connections, there was a substantial increase in business with the Defense Department. United's Web site reported that the company "was able to reinvest in defense opportunities."

In December 2001, just a few months after George W. Bush declared war on terrorism, Carlyle arranged to have United sold off as a publicly traded firm. Over 21 million shares were sold, raising over $400 million. Carlyle ended up with 3 million shares.

United did very well in 2002. Its income rose to $134 million from $8.8 million the year before. The company was awarded contracts worth $473 million during the last quarter of 2002, which, added to already existing contracts, created a backlog of just under $2 billion. This not only benefits UDI stockholders. Carlyle's investments of client monies in United will provide excellent returns.

My concern is that in the recent past a listing of partners, officers, directors, advisers, and counselors reads like George W. Bush's Inaugural Ball "invite list." Included are/were former President George Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, former Budget Director Richard Darman, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, and former British prime minister John Major. Others are/were wealthy, world power brokers, including members of Osama bin Laden's family.

I can't ignore the fact that the bin Ladens (who renounced their son in the 1990s) stood to gain from the war being waged against him or that the current president is in a position to influence budgetary decisions that could pad the bank accounts of his "daddy" and other Washington insiders.

Mack Hamblen

Germantown

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