Ted Rodosovich
University City
via voice mail

Decision Point

He identified himself as a police officer, had his badge out, and Manning charged him and started choking him (“Mental Illness Meets a Bullet,” “City Lights,” November 24). Just exactly at what point was this officer supposed to determine that Manning was mentally ill or high on drugs or suicidal?

John Sadler
via email

It’s Preventable

Nathan Manning’s death (“Mental Illness Meets a Bullet,” “City Lights,” November 24) was what the Treatment Advocacy Center calls a “preventable tragedy.” Turning law enforcement agents into default mental health workers makes episodes like this one inevitable and compromises the safety of officers and the community alike.

Laura’s Law has been on the books in California since 2002 to provide a humane and cost-effective way to preempt endings like Nathan Manning’s. Laura’s Law authorizes court-ordered treatment known as “assisted outpatient treatment” for the most severely ill before they end up homeless, hospitalized, or in deadly confrontations like the one that ended Mr. Manning’s life. Numerous independent studies have shown assisted outpatient treatment to reduce arrests, violence, hospitalization, and many other consequences of nontreatment.

If the San Diego Board of Supervisors wants to prevent tragedies involving law enforcement and those suffering from severe mental illness, it should take steps to implement Laura’s Law now.

Kristina M. Ragosta, Esq.
Legislative and Policy Counsel
Treatment Advocacy Center
Arlington, VA

Magical Statistics

The editor states “According to the California Employment Development Department” the number of persons employed by federal, state, and local government is “about 15 percent” of the total civilian California labor force (Letters, November 24).

Yes, that is definitely the figure reported by the government. It is also false. Official statistics are notoriously unreliable — and for good reason. If the nongovernment sector realized the financial burden imposed on it by the government sector, their frustration and outrage could easily spiral out of control (a scenario officialdom will do almost anything to prevent). This is why the government routinely undercounts and underreports the number of publicly funded employees and retirees, using a dazzling repertoire of statistical sleight of hand tricks that would make Penn and Teller green with envy. Undercounted and underreported government employee categories include state, federal, city, and county employees, retirees and pensioners, civilian government/military contractors, and the faculties and staffs of taxpayer-funded universities, schools, and colleges. All military personnel (active duty, reserve, disabled, and retired) are excluded from the 15 percent figure cited by the editor, an extremely odd omission since every member of the military is paid out of public funds collected from the taxpayer.

There are many sources of information available to those seeking to educate themselves about the pervasive and growing problem of deceptive, misleading, and inaccurate government statistics. John Williams (shadowstats.com) is just one of many researchers making an ongoing study of official deceit. Another is Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff. This year, Kotlikoff stated bluntly: “Let’s get real; the U.S. is bankrupt.” (Kotlikoff went on to describe government accounting as “Enron accounting.”)

In 2008, Harper’s magazine published a piece titled “Hard Numbers: The Economy Is Worse Than You Know,” which included this statement: “Ever since the 1960s, Washington has gulled its citizens and creditors by debasing official statistics, the vital instruments with which the vigor and muscle of the American economy are measured.”

In a June 1992 interview with Sarah McClendon, President George H.W. Bush made a comment about the Iran-Contra scandal that could apply equally well to the government’s fraudulent bookkeeping methods:

“Sarah, if the American people ever find out what we have done, they will chase us down the streets and lynch us.”

Name Withheld
via email

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Comments

carlsbadreader Dec. 11, 2010 @ 12:03 p.m.

One of the letters about "Mental Illness Meets a Bullet" offers a solution that could've come straight from the pages of a George Orwell novel. Many people don't realize how dangerous psychiatric drugs can be, particularly when someone is just starting to take them, or when they are trying to stop. Under these circumstances, the drugs themselves can cause a person to behave more rashly and bizarrely than they would've if they had never taken such drugs at all.

There are plenty of resources devoted to getting people to start taking these drugs, but almost no support available for people who want to quit taking them. As a result, people sometimes withdraw too quickly instead of gradually tapering down their dosage, or they don't know that the strange feelings they are having are a result of the withdrawal, rather than something inherently wrong with them.

Many psychiatrists probably don't even know how to help someone safely withdraw from the drugs that they have gotten them hooked on. And even if they did know how, there isn't much incentive for them to offer this kind of assistance. This despite the fact that there are many health hazards associated with long-term use of most psychiatric drugs, and most people taking them would have much better chances of recovery in the long-run if they didn't continue to use them for years on end (and there have been studies to show that as well, although the people working for the TAC would probably like to deny it).

Forcing someone to take drugs that they don't want to take, and euphemistically calling it "assisted treatment", is dangerous and deceitful.

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