A real stimulus requires vision
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood …" – Daniel Burnham
Spending alone will not solve our economic problems. Throwing money at potholes, traffic signals and expanded correctional facilities to create a few temporary, low-skill jobs will not make our country a better place.
The economic stimulus of unprecedented epic proportions unequivocally must be directed by a vision of the future. And that future is about transformation. After more than 200 years of innovation and leadership, our country's elected government has become saturated like a clogged artery with senseless pork-barrel spending that threatens to make null and void the inspiration and momentum of President-elect Barack Obama's message of change by diverting billions of dollars that could take our country to the forefront of the 21st century with high-speed rail, solar energy, fuel-efficient cars, environmentally friendly buildings and homes.
Many in Congress and their lobbyist cohorts would rather waste this enormous investment in our economy on more of the same old, same old types of public works. They are lining up along with many state and local governments for generous handouts to be spent on disjointed, piecemeal projects that will not provide any real sustainable, long-term benefit to our future generations who will have to foot the bill for careless spending.
The economic stimulus package will only be successful if it includes a bold vision of the future that is sought after with integrity, forward thinking and progressiveness. Let us remove petty shortsighted politics and self-interest from the spending formula and replace it with a long-term, coherent plan to embrace the future.
Rick Perez, Lakeland
To change the world, start by changing yourself
The new year is destined to be one of great change in our country. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to lead our nation in a manner that will improve our individual lives and restore our standing in the eyes of the world. I know he will try his best to do this, but we must all remember that he cannot do it alone.
For real change, we must each change ourselves in ways that will help bring it about. We must clean up our homes, our lives and our language, recycle our trash, care about our neighbors, join civic groups and organizations, use less energy, adopt a stray pet or two, and take some really serious steps to help America's many homeless.
We must see that children do not use drugs or drop out of school; we must get unlicensed drivers and drunks off our roads; we must never litter or spit on our sidewalks; we must keep ourselves clean and well groomed and walk proud at all times.
My own big New Year's resolution is to be the best me I can be every day and to work hard to see that others do the same. We can make our world a better place and make our country one to be proud of. Doing that begins with each of us. None of us can really change the world, but if we each change ourselves, what a wonderful world it will be!
Adele Ida Walter, Tampa
Hope chest | Dec. 28, David Shribman column
Opportunity for all
"He that lives upon hope dies fasting" — Benjamin Franklin
Franklin's admonishment is just as meaningful today as when it was penned. Hope alone is worthless. Faith without works is dead.
Barack Obama is a great leader, providing needed vision. Still, he can do nothing without the people. It is each of us who really has the power to make a difference. In the final analysis, it is going to be up to each citizen to think, seek that great will, and work for the common good. We each have a great opportunity. Let's not waste it.
Norm Bungard, St. Petersburg
Rules and consequences
I used to enjoy reading the paper and listening to the evening news. These days, most of it is bad and terribly demoralizing. I am sick to death of it.
It's time to re-establish the direct and immediate relationship between "responsibility" and "accountability." None of the major problems facing our country, or the world for that matter, will begin to be solved unless, and until, we do.
Our failure to hold one another accountable for both the things that we do and don't do has become pervasive in every aspect of our society: Politicians, CEOs, leaders in every walk of life, teachers, parents, students, our children. Human nature being what it is, if there are no consequences imposed, anarchy prevails.
For civilization to endure, there must be some basic and commonly adhered to rules (legal, moral and ethical) and there must be consequences for those who breach them. We are all guilty. We must all share the blame. But, most importantly, we must recognize the slippery slope that we are treading and correct it, posthaste.
All it takes is a little backbone and the capacity to realize that it's a responsibility that we all share. The wake-up alarm has been sounded. Failure is not an option. Call it what you will, but there are obviously far too many of us who need a little "tough love."
George Newman, Tampa
The article in Saturday's St. Petersburg Times (Boy, 7, is killed on bicycle while crossing highway) regarding the death of a boy trying to cross U.S. 301 to rejoin his mother and older sister on the other side tears at my insides. The family will never forget that day.
I have a safety suggestion to offer for bicycle riders. Whenever adults are riding with young members of the family and are faced with crossing a major roadway; follow two simple rules: First, stay together, don't split up. Second, walk the bicycles across, don't ride them.
This way the adult, or senior member of the group, has complete control over the timing of the crossing and can consider the presence or absence of automobiles and trucks. There is nothing more tragic than visualizing an adult on the side of a multilane roadway screaming at a 7-year-old on the opposite side in an attempt to control the crossing.
I also suggest that our local police departments hold a pizza party twice a year for bicycle riders 10 and under, and their parents, at which they and present a video on basic bicycle safety. I'm sure Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's and others would be willing sponsors. Notice in all the supermarkets is sure to generate a good attendance.
My heart and prayers are with the family.
Don Sawyer, Tampa
America emerges on canvas | Dec. 26, George Will column
It is truly gratifying to read the George Will piece extolling the virtues of the National Endowment for Humanities and its chairman, Bruce Cole. The modest and invaluable effort in distributing the 40 classic works of historical art to schools and libraries, which will, in the columnist's words, "spark the synthesis of information," is to be applauded.
Robert L. Tarnay, Palmetto