U.S. needs new Mideast policies
The Egyptian revolution of 2/11 opens a new era for the Middle East and for the world. Egyptians, and Tunisians, have courageously demonstrated the power of people, unity and nonviolence to end repressive, autocratic rule. By using social media technology, they have created a potent formula for bringing about dramatic and peaceful change. With Egypt leading the charge, we can hope for the demise of extremism and the emergence of a more coherent U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. government, media and people seem to support the Egyptian people's quest for freedom now that the revolution has succeeded in its first stage. However, let's not forget that the U.S. government supported and aided this repressive regime for 30 years. Al-Qaida and its anti-American militancy emerged as a response to our hypocritical policies. The top al-Qaida leadership was shut out of the political process in their respective countries due to the lack of democracy, so they turned to militancy to make their mark.
The Egyptian revolution must bring about a change in our U.S. foreign policy. Support for democracy, freedom, human rights and social justice should become the focus for achieving our goals of security, stability and peace in the Middle East. If we invested a fraction of the resources that go to the war on terrorism on a new policy that reflects our American ideals, we could eliminate al-Qaida and anti-Americanism, save American and Middle Eastern lives, promote Arab-Israeli peace, and strengthen our economy by decreasing our debt and defense budget and increasing our trade and investment in the region.
The Egyptian revolution has hopefully demonstrated to Americans that the majority of Muslims are moderate, peaceful people who long for freedom and social justice, just like all human beings. Although the media calls it a secular, nationalist revolution, it was carried out by a majority of Muslims who followed their religious beliefs, sacrificed innocent martyrs, turned to God in prayer, and cried out, "God is great! Thanks to God!" for their success. The Egyptians echoed the cry of our own American revolutionary, Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
Pilar Saad, Tampa
Stop supporting dictators
Why did the United States support a repressive regime in Egypt for 30 years? Why do we continue to support dictatorship throughout the Middle East? We espouse freedom and democracy, but our foreign policy continues to be a farce.
For decades our policymakers have thrown democracy under the bus in favor of "stability" — which translates into cheap oil.
The lesson in all this is that dictatorships lead to revolutions, and even world powers can't manage revolutions. The British found that out in the 1770s.
William Metros, Tarpon Springs
Parents are first teachers
There was a time when chewing gum and getting out of line were typical school discipline problems. Now it is disrespect for authority, apathy and violence. We have police officers in our schools.
School, law enforcement and social work professionals are blamed for inadequately managing the behavioral problems of our children and adolescents. Teachers must deal with disrespectful, unmotivated students. In this climate, even gifted teachers cannot both control and teach kids.
Without question, our educational system can be improved. But if we are to do this successfully, we need to face a simple fact: The education of children is a parental responsibility.
Parents do not get enough credit for contributing $1.4 million to our economy for every child they raise to become a productive citizen. But they are not held sufficiently accountable for the children they fail to prepare for, and to support in, public schools. Each child they neglect and abuse costs our economy $2.8 million.
We cannot afford to cut programs that prevent school dropouts, crime and welfare dependency. We do not cut back on immunization during an epidemic; we increase it. We should not cut back on strengthening families during economic hard times; we should increase it.
Above all, we should not expect our public schools to parent our children.
Jack C. Westman, Madeira Beach
State planes sold as Scott promised | Feb. 12
Cost cutting makes sense
Congratulations to our new governor, Rick Scott, for selling those two airplanes and finally taking hold of out-of-control state spending. He will surely step on a few toes, but it's for the best for this state and the beleaguered taxpayers.
For too long too many have been feeding at the taxpayers' trough. We need everyone to get behind Scott's cost cutting.
Ronald Payne, Safety Harbor
A selfish spirit
The headline of the article about selling the state planes should have read: "I've got mine, now you get yours." That basically sums up the direction our nation has been heading. I hope we have a change in heart and spirit.
Sylvia Costello, Largo
Base tries to ease kids' fears | Feb. 11
Desensitized to death
My reaction to this article and photo was complete disbelief that somehow letting children handle assault weapons that have only one use, to kill human beings, eased these children's fears over the deployment of a parent.
To further add to my horror, these children spend their free time engaged in mock warfare with video games. Are we now encouraging our children at an early age to become desensitized to death?
Thea Reynolds, Lutz
Florida can't afford sales tax cheaters | Feb. 12, editorial
Get back lost revenue
The editorial about Florida's tax cheats leaves me to wonder if our new governor is as interested in fixing the tax collection problem as he is in keeping teachers and public servants from making a decent living.
Besides all of the tax cheaters, Florida is missing the boat on Internet purchases. I do much of my shopping on the Internet. When I buy goods from outside Florida, no sales tax is collected. I would not mind paying my fair share of Internet sales taxes for the health of my city and state. We all enjoy good roads, police and fire protection, and clean parks, but not all of us want to help pay for them.
The antitax fervor of some on the right is amazing. The years of Bush income tax breaks for the well-heeled only served to put our country deeper in the hole, and allowing sales tax cheats will drive Florida deeper into the same hole.
Jim Cocca, Homosassa
All should pay for roads
Clearly, electric and/or hybrid vehicles (EVs) are going to be a big part of our future transportation picture. Drivers who commute 15 or so miles each way to work will most likely line up to purchase some sort of electric vehicle in the coming years. The $7,500 federal tax credit is a great incentive.
However, there is an aspect regarding EVs that is overlooked. Namely, since they use little or no gasoline, the owner/operator will not be paying any gasoline taxes, which in Florida amounts to 53 cents per gallon. These taxes are used to help pay for the maintenance, repair and construction of our roadways.
EVs will be using those roads but the owners of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles will be subsidizing them. In order to level the playing field, a meter must be installed on every EV so that it can be assessed a fee for each mile driven.
P.J. Jaccoi, Tampa
Two county officials cleared | Feb. 12
The state attorney could find no criminal wrongdoing by the two Hillsborough County officials. They received unauthorized pay increases and the county attorney was accused of e-mail "snooping."
While not criminal according to the state attorney, they certainly benefited from their own questionable decisions. I wonder: How many people are sitting in jail based on their "questionable decisions"?
M.H. Drew, Wesley Chapel