Our readers sound on Medicare for all, abolishing football at Penn State and what the New York Times got right and wrong about inequality and marriage. Let us know what you think—in the comments!

Belinda Manning: I’m conflicted on this one Dave, kind of in time out mode. Your argument to me seems like the "too big to fail model" of big banks. I’m not there. I’m also not one looking to punish the innocent. (I would like to point out that we do it everyday when we imprison fathers and mothers who have committed crimes. Some of them may even be parents of children in the Second Mile Program.  Hmm…).The scary thing for me, is what I’m seeing and hearing from many Penn State students and alums, especially the younger folks. My witness is that they have taken this notion of "reverence" to a whole other level. Really. Now I have as much love for my alma mater as anyone. And there were many role models and mentors who I continue to thank for guidance, direction and a strong foundation for continued learning. Some of my deepest friendships were formed within its boundaries and have extended beyond. We have a shared history of struggle through the challenges of the civil rights era. And we can be a bit "cliquish;" some might say elitist.  I think you can say this is what happens with all "tribes." It even happens to a great extent with allegiances formed with pro-teams. BUT from, what I’ve seen, beginning with the riots of last year; and the recent posts on blogs, Facebook and twitter; this behavior looks more like cultish than tribe.

Now I don’t think that the NCAA is the appropriate body to be responsible for addressing this deep cultural issue, although they have had a hand in creating it. The responsibility for change rests with Penn State, and that’s not going to happen with the same Board that abdicated responsibility and turned over the reigns in the first place. On that we agree. I also think they need to reduce the size of that Board and ask for resignations–beginning with those that initiated Paterno’s final contract. Penn State has a HUGE leadership void right now. The recent press conference did nothing to demonstrate that it was even close to being filled. Given a national press conference… Who speaks for the board? For the President of the Board not to take TOTAL responsibility for responding to the press…not a pretty picture.

Destruction of Penn State football? That’s a thought. Painful as it may be, it’s worth consideration. I would prefer a more thoughtful strategy that would "put it in its place." Renovating the showers? Sorry, I really don’t think there is a great deal of mileage that comes with that. As a matter of fact that was just a– DUH? The action that needs to happen to marshal in change has to be one that says: "This is a new day, that crap is over!"
In response to Dave Zirin’s "Against Abolishing Football at Penn State." July 15, 2012

Henry O: Dave, I respectfully disagree (completely) with your analysis.

The fraud and cover-up here was perpetrated to protect the 800-pound gorilla that is Penn State football. I know a little bit about this phenomenon, as a graduate of the University of Alabama. I thought we were crazy and warped in placing too much importance onto a sport or a coach (Bear Bryant)… that is, until I spent last fall in Pennsylvania to attend the Alabama-Penn State football game. This was before the Sandusky story broke. It was amazing even to us (Alabama fans) just how high JoePa was placed on a pedestal. It was if he could do NO wrong, and anyone who even mildly criticized him was immediately shut down and informed by the groupthink of their ignorance. In the south, we like a hearty banter with opposing fans… a sort of sarcastic ribbing… but any comment about JoePa that was in even the slightest bit derogatory, was met with anger and dismay (much in the way a religious zealot reacts when they hear that you don’t believe in their god or teachings).

Fast forward to today… the Pennsylvania State University needs leadership to step forward and show themselves and the world that they understand what is truly important. They need to prove that they understand their morals were significantly out of order. Renovating a crime scene does not do this.  They must take a step back.  The need to self select to suspend their football program for a period of at least 2 years. I feel sure a deal could be brokered with the NCAA that would allow all of PSU’s scholarship players the opportunity to transfer without sitting out a year, and that would allow their opponents to schedule an additional home game vs. a lower division opponent. This would alleviate the "harm" you feel would be placed upon those who played no part in this terrible situation.

You cite the example of the SMU "death penalty" and fail to realize that this penalty was as much for the school that committed violations as it was for the rest of the football-playing members of the NCAA. It was a wake-up call and a promise ("do things the right way or else").

It is time for Penn State to wake up… time to say "WE ARE… going to do the right thing".
In response to Dave Zirin’s "Against Abolishing Football at Penn State." July 15, 2012

Bill3801: Excellent article, Dave. As you say, the impact of the draconian penalties so many people are calling for is disproportionate to the offense, as horrible as it is. The point about the harm to women’s sports and smaller sports is right on, as is the harm to the entire university community and the economic region. Your point that such penalties will not help those boys/men who were harmed, nor prevent pedophilia from happening in the future is also valid. And finally, your assessment of the NCAA is quite accurate. The major motivations of the NCAA are money and power, and they could care less about students, athletes, and personal integrity. A recent example is the NCAA response to CalTech for reporting technical violations to NCAA rules. Talk about a joke.

Most of the writers commenting are hysterical, and more than a few are hypocrites. As you say, our legal system is the appropriate group to hand down punishments, and they will be quite severe. Personally, I feel next to Sandusky, Spanier and the Board are the major villains in this sad situation. They are the ones who were charged with running Penn State and they failed miserably. If Paterno was so all-powerful, it was because they allowed him to be so. They are the responsible people. All this stuff about “the culture” is just that – “stuff.” People do things, not cultures. The members of the Board are clueless dummies.

And, of course, all of us see that now with the advantage of hindsight.
In response to Dave Zirin’s "Against Abolishing Football at Penn State." July 15, 2012

Chico David RN: The story we have seen before from the Democratic Party and its allies in labor is that idea that we must all become cheerleaders for less-than-adequate solutions and programs in order to avoid empowering the evil right. And too many advocacy groups have compromised themselves by falling into line. I think one of the most important things for issue advocates to remember is that the political process works best when everyone fulfills their role: the role of candidates is to win election. The role of officeholders is to govern, which often does involve compromise. And the role of advocates is to advocate. And that ought to mean advocating for the ideal. I’ve done a fair bit of labor negotiation and the way you win a better compromise is NOT by advocating for a better compromise. You win a better compromise by advocating for the ideal. You fire up your constituency around the ideal, you tell them they deserve the ideal and it’s only right they should have it. You push the other side as far as you can get them in the direction of the ideal. Then, at the end, you compromise enough to get a deal done.

Unfortunately, the Washington Dems always seem to start the negotiation by pre-compromising and then telling their various constituencies that we must fall into line—even before the process begins. Single payer/Medicare for All advocates know what the ideal is and we know we are a long way from it. Critiquing the ACA from the left is not going to empower the absurd arguments of those who attack it from the right. But it will help us to move down the road to real health care reform—a single standard of care for all Americans.
In response to Rose Ann de Moro’s “Nurses Union Will Keep Fighting for Medicare for All.” July 17, 2012

RN4Mercy: Nurses are working at the bedside of patients who are stricken and suffering from illness and injury complicated by lack of affordable access to early prevention, treatment, and professional providers, while politicians and media pundits are debating market efficiencies and the political expediency of incremental reform. The growing patient care crisis will only get worse because of the economic meltdown and insurance companies will continue to deny medically necessary care.

As they say, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" and although I doubt that insurers and their corporate shills in elected office see beyond their own wallets and take sadistic pleasure in the terrible misfortunes of others, they’re certainly guilty of ineffectual efforts

Wendell Potter has had a well-publicized, contrite and epiphanic moment when he admitted insurance bureaucrats care more about company profits than patient need. To him I would say: this is no time to put the whistle away! Potter is no stranger to how the insurers will continue to do a "hatchet-job" on the ACA and any other reform that takes control of our health care away from them.

Nurses know the most cost-effective and universal solution for the crisis is to expand and improve Medicare. Why should anyone have to wait until age 65 for guaranteed health care?
In response to Rose Ann de Moro’s “Nurses Union Will Keep Fighting for Medicare for All.” July 17, 2012

Peggy Wireman: Jessica is struggling because she makes a low salary, as do millions of workers who keep our country functioning. If she were married to a man making the same salary, she would still be struggling but not as much. A major part of the story is that since the 1970’s two-thirds of the profits made by workers have gone to CEOs or the stock market, not to the workers. The minimum wage is $7.25, corrected for inflation in 1968 it was $10 an hour. Since the minimum wage sets the floor, if it were $10 now Jessica would probably be making over $6,000 a year more doing the same job.

For a family values country, we don’t value childcare providers enough to pay them well or provide them with sick leave. That’s odd considering the fact that our current wage struggle guarantees that even most married women will work outside the home for economic reasons even if they would prefer not to.
In response to Katha Pollitt’s “The ‘New York Times’ Misses the Mark on Inequality, Marriage.” July 17, 2012

Maurice Isserman: Katha, usually I agree with you. This time I think you are misinterpreting DeParle’s article. He has been, consistently and for over two decades, a very good reporter on poverty issues—not too many others in that journalistic sub-field. As you note, his article was clearly intended to address Charles Murray’s blame-it-on-the-60’s thesis explaining white working class poverty but I read it as laying out an alternative argument to Murray’s. It’s not a combination of unfortunate cultural shifts and choices that has led to the explosion of single mothers and their children in poverty in recent decades but the economic changes that 1) made the single-breadwinner model of domestic economy untenable; and 2) drained the pool of eligible males with stable, decently-paid employment.
In response to Katha Pollitt’s “The ‘New York Times’ Misses the Mark on Inequality, Marriage.” July 17, 2012