Dr. King weeps from his grave | Aug. 28, commentary
'60s philosophies hurt our young
If we ever wondered what they teach those kids up at Princeton, now we know: Up the revolution, organize the community, confront authority — the whole litany of '60s shibboleths that have done so much to ravage the prospects of two generations of young people.
If kids show up in school with contempt for their teachers and hostility to the whole process of education, then that is supposed to be the fault of the military-industrial complex. Boeing makes them do it. Does a teenage girl have children from three different fathers and expect the taxpayers to support her? That is the fault of materialism and the culture industry. Apple made them do it.
Professor Cornel West's diatribe is a travesty of Martin Luther King's teachings. Much closer in spirit to King's message are the writings of Bill Maxwell in your pages, as he reflects soberly and with alarm on the absence of the spirit of self-discipline, determination and commitment to education that have lifted other generations of Americans from humble backgrounds into the American dream.
As for those kids at Princeton, let's hope that most of them are opting for classes in history and literature that will be far more relevant to their futures in the world than the harangues of West.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Dr. King weeps from his grave | Aug. 28, commentary
A mixed blessing
The unveiling of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington is definitely a mixed blessing. King's legacy of suffering (while fighting) the weight of injustice is supplanted by an image of a civil rights leader transformed into a pharaoh. Like a latter-day Ramses, the enormous statue of King appears to emerge forcefully out of solid rock, as if adhering to some pagan myth. Neatly arrayed in pressed suit and tie, he peers over all onlookers, a master of the universe.
The controversy over the artist's nationality is superfluous to the work itself. In this case, the memorial contradicts many of King's most outstanding attributes: heroic, yes, but also possessed of a deep humanity, a rare poetic spirit, and, in the view of many at the time, a dangerous rebel who dared to claim the high moral ground.
Now generations of visitors will confront an image of King as a figure who conveys an awesome authority and cold grandeur. Nothing, it seems to me, could so thoroughly contradict King's basic affinity for the forgotten poor and oppressed.
C.S. Monaco, Micanopy
TIA execs will fly frugally and Making memories, missing the point | Aug. 26
Costly sports junkets
Tampa airport executives backed off their ill-advised plan to have certain employees travel business class instead of coach. In the same edition, Ernest Hooper's column reported that local high school athletic teams are traveling cross-country to play other teams.
At a time when we hear the terms "deficit" and "bankruptcy" applied to irresponsible governmental units, someone decided to send about 100 schoolkids and staffers across the country to play a game! I'm sure people will come up with many reasons why the kids should go play these games, but we are supposedly broke, so how can anyone afford to send kids off to play games thousands of miles away?
The Times did a good job of analyzing the cost of premium-class travel by TIA employees. Could you do the same to let us know how much the sports junkets cost?
William Broderick, Tampa
The man who saved our lives | Aug. 28
Hats off to reporter
This article by Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin illustrates what a lovely, grateful, warm and compassionate human being she is, as well as being a terrific foreign correspondent who has educated readers so well about Pakistan and other countries in that region while risking her life.
The Times and its readers are lucky to have such a plucky, determined reporter flying off to such dangerous areas to provide coverage and her insights. Hats off to Susan Taylor Martin.
Irene Sullivan, Pinellas Park
Bachmann explains comments as trip ends Aug. 30
Public faith isn't 'fringe'
When did it become so extreme or peculiar for a political figure to believe in, or make reference to God? Recently the New York Times editor Bill Keller compared those who believe in God to those who believe in "space aliens." GOP hopeful Rick Perry has been derided for his evangelical faith and for attending a public prayer event. Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Marco Rubio and other conservatives are constantly being made to run a gantlet of media scrutiny aimed at portraying them as "on the fringe" and therefore unfit for public office.
Yet a mere 50 years ago these politicians would have been considered mainstream in their social views. Historically, American leaders enthusiastically embraced their faith publicly, and the electorate had no apprehensions about it. Every president since George Washington has made reference to God in his inaugural speech, acknowledging divine guidance as essential to sound governance. So why today has the level of suspicion and rancor been unleashed on politicians of faith?
Richard Scott, Clearwater
VA bonuses didn't delay farewell | Aug. 29
The retention bonus in the federal service is just one of the monetary incentives that federal managers have misused since they were authorized. The others include the relocation bonus, the recruitment bonus, save-grade, and save-pay. All of these were authorized in attempt to get top management to manage better, with more flexibility to encourage top talent to enter and stay in the federal service, as well as to take actions to reduce overgrading and eliminate unneeded positions.
The result has generally been an increase in personnel costs without a corresponding increase in economy and efficiency. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management relinquished its oversight of federal agencies in the early '80s, leaving agencies to police themselves. The result is the type of situation in the referenced article.
The VA medical center directors are not at fault. Their higher-ups are the proposing and deciding officials for the retention incentive. One can't help but wonder why the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Special Counsel don't exercise their authorities in the misuse of all these costly incentives. The fox is now guarding the henhouse.
R.D. Williams, Sarasota