The palmary ne plus ultra vocabulary | Oct. 23, Robyn Blumner column
Vocabulary: the bigger the better
Robyn Blumner's commentary on the importance of building a strong vocabulary is underscored in the work of the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, which since 1927 has conducted research related to vocabulary and aptitudes.
A most striking finding from O'Connor research is that a person's vocabulary level was the best single predictor of occupational success in every area. It also finds that there is a strong likelihood that in any occupational hierarchy the person you report to will have a larger vocabulary than you.
An important O'Connor principle is that each word has an inherent level of difficulty and that a word that is difficult is difficult for everyone. Each person's word knowledge falls somewhere on that difficulty line, so a person will know virtually all words below the line but the dropoff above a person's "vocabulary frontier" is quite sharp.
The rate of learning is greatest for those words just above a person's "vocabulary frontier."
Richard Austin, Safety Harbor
Spectacle | Oct. 23
Sad story was well told
I am writing to say how disgusted, as well as fascinated, I was while reading Ben Montgomery and his contributors' story of the lynching of Claude Neal. It took me two sittings to get through it. It was a well-told story that made you feel you were there.
I grew up the daughter of an Army officer and lived overseas and in the North. We moved to Florida in 1960 when I was 13. I had never experienced the "back of the bus" mentality or segregation before and was appalled to see it happening.
The small minds of some people who think that they have the right to take justice into their own hands are beyond comprehension. We all deserve a trial by our peers, not mob justice.
While we have come a long way since 1934, I can't help but feel we still have some things to learn.
Roberta Prymula, Clearwater
Black America's Obama divide Oct. 23, Bill Maxwell column
Look past the surface
Bill Maxwell makes some very good points but does not go far enough.
President Barack Obama is neither a black president nor a white president, he is the president. He was not elected solely by voters of darker skin colors, but by a majority of Americans who felt he was best fitted for the job. We as a nation should be past the point where we subcategorize one another.
The failure of this nation to progress is not Obama's fault as president, but our fault. We have become a nation of followers, not leaders, because of a minority of ideologues who cater to special interests.
Don't judge your understanding of our government based on talking heads. Whoever you consider your ancestors to be, write your elected officials and share your real concerns.
Ronald E. Long, Ph.D., Spring Hill
President for all
Although not black, I for one continue to support President Barack Obama and have been pleased that he has served as a president who happens to be black and not as the "Black President." If the nation wanted a "Black President," we could have elected Jesse Jackson or even Al Sharpton.
It is understandable that some blacks are disappointed that Obama has not been more attentive to the black agenda, but it is evident that he has had his hands full just trying to avoid the disasters we were heading for on Jan. 20, 2009.
It has always been more difficult for blacks to achieve gainful employment, and that burden is only added to by the undereducated. We all need to do more to reverse this trend.
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg
Clay Bennett cartoon | Oct. 25
Public deserves a medal
I was disgusted by the editorial cartoon showing President Barack Obama wearing medals for his "accomplishments" (many of them won by our military personnel) and a Purple Heart for his failure to create jobs.
A Purple Heart is a badge of honor given to a soldier injured in battle. This cartoon insinuates that Obama is the victim of a big, bad economy, but isn't he, rather, the originator of failed policies that are perpetuating this bad economy?
It is the American people who deserve a Purple Heart for being injured by Obama's failed economic policies.
Mary Allen, Maitland
Occupy Wall Street
Push for tax fairness
Regarding Occupy Wall Street, in which I participated once, their message should be two words: tax fairness.
The problem is that Congress creates tax laws, and they are elected mainly because of campaign contributions. Obviously, those who contribute the most money to representatives pay the least taxes. A tax collection code that is complicated and contradictory favors those contributors because they manipulate the system.
The solution is a flat tax of some kind that cannot be manipulated. Fairness is the foundation for trust and honesty. Eliminating the many thousands of tax-avoidance lawyers alone would save billions.
What kind of flat tax I don't know yet. But there has to be something that follows our basic American Constitution: equality. Today, the few control the many because of the power of accumulated wealth thanks to favorable tax laws. That has to change.
Until that happens, keep protesting, because you have both a right and a duty.
Doug Hicks, Tampa
We're victims of a speedup | Oct. 23
Changes in the workplace
Business organizations negatively control employment as a major variable cost factor for motivating "productivity" and company profits in today's U.S. economy.
Continuing pressure for greater productivity here and production relocations overseas result in cheaper products and continuing unemployment here at home. The needed level of increased employment via new business growth will take too many years to achieve.
I believe we must re-examine our standard wages-and-hours laws to put more people back to work quickly and greatly increase the prompt government financing of badly needed public infrastructure improvements.
Solutions might include a four-day work week (hire more people) and federal 25-year bond issues for bridges, roads and buildings.
Morton Sherman, St. Petersburg