Feeding wildlife is a fatal mistake
Many people feed wildlife, but do they know they may as well be killing them?
Urban sprawl shrinks wild spaces at a rapid pace, disconnecting habitat and polluting (with chemicals, noise and light) the only home our wild neighbors have. Most don't have the time or ability to relocate and are instantly competing for the last remaining resources they need to survive.
In nature, most wild animal populations will grow and shrink with resource availability, but since we develop and disconnect their habitat so quickly, their populations don't have time to shrink with it. Many will encroach on other habitat, out-compete more sensitive species, become a nuisance to humans and be removed, or be hit by cars.
Though well-intentioned, when we feed wildlife, we are helping to maintain their population at a size that their home can no longer support. We are also desensitizing them to humans (a fear that they need to keep them, and you, safe) or encouraging them to stay put, thus becoming a nuisance.
Feeding alligators will lead to future encounters with humans, then they're trapped and killed. Bird feeders feed squirrels and raccoons, too, so they congregate in our neighborhoods, which can irritate people. Feeders give outdoor cats a one-stop-shopping post, too.
If you love wildlife, consider their life in the wild, and that we can't rob them of their most important skill: survival.
Nikki Benoit, Tampa
To ease soldiers' stress | May 14, letter
Resuming draft is not good for the Army
The letter writer claims that reinstating the draft will solve the problem of stressed-out soldiers. As someone who was drafted at the end of 1969, I respectfully disagree.
The draft, like slavery, is involuntary servitude. You can't expect drafted soldiers to be happy in the military any more than you can expect slaves to be happy on the plantation. Consequently, morale in the Vietnam-era Army was at an all-time low.
The draft brought in the dregs of society. I served with drug dealers, pimps, gang-bangers and an outlaw biker, among others. Many of them had physical or mental problems, criminal records or a lack of education that would have kept them out of an all-volunteer military. Drug abuse was rampant.
The murder of officers and NCOs by their subordinates became fairly common. It was called "fragging" because fragmentation grenades, claymore mines and antitank rockets were the weapons of choice. Unlike a gun, which leaves distinctive marks on the bullet that can be traced back to the shooter's weapon, they leave no traceable ballistic evidence.
Today's professional military is more educated, motivated and capable than any drafted army has ever been.
James Nelson, Largo
Overspending on war
Friday's Times had one story about job cuts for local Chrysler dealers and another about an increase in spending for two wars in the Middle East to the tune of $97 billion.
Why are we paying for the protection of Iraq and Afghanistan from the Taliban when it is, essentially, their problem? This is not right, especially when our own industries need assistance.
President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex and, unfortunately, he was right. The military is Washington's main industry and it now has two major cheerleaders increasing its revenue, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Enough is enough. Let Iraq and Afghanistan pay for their own defense.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Children who rape
What we have wrought
Were I a middle school teacher, male or female, I would be terrified by the news that a group of my students, dissatisfied, angry or just "wilding," could band together and forcibly rape me with any handy teaching aid, and expect to return home after a day, where they would be "grounded" but still be able to enjoy mom's meatloaf and have their laundry done.
Forty-plus years ago at the University of Florida medical school, my pediatrics student group was required to read Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care. The consensus was that his philosophy of child rearing would "sow the wind" and that society would reap the whirlwind. Sadly, we were correct. As a prescient Pogo said in that wonderful comic strip. "We have met the enemy, and he is us!"
W.W. Rogers III, M.D., Tampa
In my opinion our legal and judicial systems are out of control. In recent days we have seen a murder suspect released on $25,000 bail, four rape suspects released after only one night in custody, a multiple DUI offender get weekends in jail and a man accused of porn on his computer jailed with a million-dollar bail.
My problem is with the inconsistencies of the penalties and with the judges who seem to be oblivious to the public outcry to get these people off the streets. How can we get these judges held accountable for their actions?
Jeff Helminski, Hudson
No-tax pledge imperils budget | May 15
Recently, Gov. Charlie Crist sent me an e-mail congratulating this Florida House and Senate session on the budget. Sad to say, Gov. Crist is depending on the federal stimulus package to do all the heavy lifting.
His no-new-taxes rhetoric is a shallow pledge to our state. We, as citizens of Florida, are denying all our residents, some in real need, by not paying our fair share. We pay so little in taxes as compared to most states. I often wonder if it's because so many folks come here from elsewhere and feel no loyalty.
We must shoulder our responsibilities. Gov. Crist has been a wishy-washy executive at best. Perhaps his plans to become a senator in Washington reflect his less-than-staunch support for his state tasks. If he's going to juggle a campaign with his current duties, it leads one to believe that's what he's doing — just juggling. And what does he say about how he would do that? "Very carefully." What a cop-out.
Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey
The texting hazard
Recently I was nearly killed when a car driven by a young woman swerved on Interstate 4, barely missing me. She was driving in the passing lane at 50-55 miles per hour in a 70-mph speed-limit zone.
Why did she lose control of her car? She was text-messaging! As she swerved within inches of my car, I saw her head was down and her thumbs were busy.
Meanwhile, our goofballs in Tallahassee let die a bill that would have outlawed driving while text-messaging. How many of us driving on Florida's highways will have to die before lawmakers ban this incredibly dangerous behavior?
Randy Campbell, Land O'Lakes