Letters: Census Data and Health Insurance

Listeners wrote to Talk of the Nation to share how new census data, which showed how the recession is affecting the way we live, plays out for them. Mostly, they described tough times. Other listeners wrote in to debate the individual mandate in the health insurance bills.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Wednesday and time to read from your emails and Web comments. The census gave us a snapshot last week of how the recession changed the way we live. And we took our own survey of listeners. Many agreed with Lisa, who emailed to tell us she sees no signs of improvement. She's moved back in with her parents. I am basically waiting it out since my current paycheck would not be enough to cover the high price of city rent. Also, despite what the census showed, I did not notice a drop in marriages. I actually noticed an increase. I think it may be due in some part to this decrease in monthly income. People are looking to pool their incomes with someone else so they can afford a nicer apartment or just get out of the nest.

And while the vast majority of the comments we got described tough times, we did hear from a handful who weathered the downturn well. My economy has never been better. We have doubled our income in the last five years and are on track to be debt free in four years. I was also able to hire 20 people at my private sector job this year at rates above our competitors. All this - in Michigan. That piece of positive news from Marion in the Great Lake State.

We also talked about another pocketbook issue, health insurance, and the debate over the individual mandate. Bills in Congress would require you to have insurance or be fined. Mike Koulik(ph) in South Carolina supports the idea. Everyone paying premiums is the only way to keep costs down. If everyone must pay for the country to be healthy and well, let's treat this issue like the interstate system, our schools, and our fire departments. My house hasn't burned, I have no children, and I almost never use major highways, yet I understand the necessity of paying my share for those services.

Many, though, disagreed. People can't pay living expenses. How can we pay this? That's the problem. So now those who can't afford to pay will have the choice of paying a fine, more money, or just dying instead of going to the doctor. That from Jim Jager(ph) in St. Louis, Missouri.

And a brief correction for historical accuracy. A caller yesterday misspoke. She said George Washington named her town during the Civil War. Of course, Washington fought in the War of Independence, not the Civil War, and we apologize for any confusion.

Finally, after Monday's discussion about health workers and mandatory swine flu vaccines, a related story yesterday: A federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. military can require service members to be vaccinated against anthrax. Eight members of the military filed suit to challenge the FDA's determination that the vaccine is effective. This is a topic where we're sure to hear about in the future. Stay tuned.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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