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Florida's laws on bankruptcy need to be rewritten

Re: A debtor's paradise, Feb. 4, I find it appalling that people of such stature can literally thumb their nose at those to whom they owe money and continue to enjoy the life style of the greedy rich. When anyone with assets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars can declare bankruptcy and not be made to pay his honest debts, we are indeed in big trouble. The person in question has a beautiful home in a prestigious area, several hundred thousand dollars in banks and a large monthly income, and none of it can be touched, according to Florida law. I think an honest bankruptcy is justified, but one to avoid paying just debts is criminal and anyone who would stoop to such levels should be tried in court as a criminal and made to take care of his obligations or sentenced to jail.

It seems the Florida bankruptcy laws need to be re-written.

Ed Evans, Clearwater

Re: Credit mismanagement lands many in hot water, Feb. 5.

J.T. Schrotel, a Tampa lawyer, who has represented hundreds of debtors who hold credit cards, claims that "it's a here-and-now society we have: 'I want this today and I'll worry about paying tomorrow!"' I think they got the idea from the federal government.

Robert Le Page, Floral City Freedom of expression

After reading the Jan. 31 column, Panhandling as protected speech? by George Will, I am inclined to respond.

The Coalition for the Homeless believes there to be roughly 75,000 homeless people in New York City. Only a fraction can find solace in shelters; others drift in and out of parks, doorways, abandoned buildings and subway stations. For the most part, their subsistence depends on the charity of others, often in the form of handouts from begging or panhandling.

On Oct. 25 a campaign known as Operation Enforcement began an effort to rid the subways of unruly panhandlers. According to the New York Times, the campaign lacked support from public officials and gave birth to a series of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of forbidding begging underground. Simply put, in three months Operation Enforcement gained no ground underground.

Federal Judge Leonard B. Sand recently ruled that panhandling (except in subway cars or near token booths) is protected by the First Amendment. Will finds this notion laughable and goes to great lengths to criticize Sand. Will refers to his judgments as "dangerous" and contends that they promote the "anarchic impulse toward violent self-help" that will inevitably arise from a citizenry who sees alcoholic, schizophrenic, drug-addicted danger in the eyes of each beggar confronting them.

What Will overlooks in his harassment of Sand is the benevolent human who seeks to protect what little the homeless have in the first place. Suppression of panhandling promotes inflexibility (increased violence toward beggars, total criminalization of panhandling) and conceals the real problem confronting society (increasing number of homeless, basic social responsibility). Though most have an urge to suppress their voice, the downtrodden are entitled to the same freedom of expression found in the First Amendment that Will enjoys a comfortable living exploiting.

Ron Proleika, Tampa Bargaining chip

Re: Dole's modest foreign aid proposal, Jan. 20.

Thank you very much for your editorial concerning aid to Israel.

For years I've read the St. Petersburg Times and felt your editorials expressed accurate and fair positions. But seldom did I find your paper taking a stand on circumstances involving Israel. I interpreted the rare St. Petersburg Times editorials concerning Israel as vague and cautious.

But this editorial was different. You came right out and said aid to Israel should be cut to help developing democracies because the current Likud government "seems to have forgotten many of the democratic principles ..."

The language is still a bit cautious, but no longer vague. The advantages of an independent newspaper shined through.

In my opinion, the United States should go further and freeze an additional amount of aid to Israel until Israel meets certain specifications our government is demanding: 1.Cease the killing, torture and expulsion of Palestinian civilians.

2.Stop building Israeli settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

3.Talk to the Palestinian leadership - don't arrest or deport them when they earn the respect of their people and the international community.

The United States gives Israel over $3-billion a year. Our government should use that money as a bargaining chip to ensure the rights of Palestinians are no longer violated and save the dignity of Israel and the United States.

West Davies, Gainesville Bush China policy 'appalling'

I appreciate your editorial of Jan. 26, China's man in Washington, and fully support it.

While I understand the American interest in maintaining a workable relation with China, I am appalled by the recent Bush China policy. He was so arrogant in defending his policy that it seems as if he has a personal stake in it.

At the very time when communism is dying everywhere in the world, Bush's policy is helping perpetuate a most totalitarian country. By this policy Bush not only helped the butchers in Peking but also sends a strong message to the world that the United States is no longer interested in human rights and democracy. Now can the United States pride itself as the leader of the free world?

Like the gerontocrats in Peking, who are increasingly isolated from their people, Bush has isolated himself from the American public and the Congress.

If Bush has the economic interest utmost in his mind, why doesn't he promote human rights in China? Human rights policy not only helps bring a free society but also a free economy. Just look at the Eastern European countries and even the Soviet Union. Americans now don't have to beg to open their economies and markets, those countries are begging Americans to invest. Human rights sounds morally right and is also a powerful political weapon.

Lastly, I shall be glad and grateful if America follows such a policy which would serve its interests and along with that bring the sickening communist gerontocrats in Peking to meet the same fate as their comrades Eric Honecker and Nicolae Ceausescu. As a Tibetan, I feel that such a fate is appropriate in the light of their having invaded, looted and murdered more than a million of my countrymen in Tibet.

Lhundup Tsering, Tampa Other views

Re: China's man in Washington, editorial, Jan. 26.

The bill was not "... designed to protect 40,000 Chinese students ..."; they are already protected by a directive signed by President Bush. The bill was designed to undermine presidential authority in foreign relations and force a "motherhood" vote which would embarrass the president by overriding his veto. Fortunately, your page 1 reporting was more honest than your editorial.

Roy O'Brien, Treasure Island

Re: ... and China's man in Florida, Jan. 20.

Your opinion that Congress should decide foreign policy would seem to be misguided.

Connie Mack proved himself a statesman in this instance and voted to keep Congress from forming foreign policy.

While you may not have been exposed to China diplomacy, surely Sen. Kennedy should be aware of the crass insult that refusal to lift the toast would display. Why any older man would display Kennedy's tantrums is difficult to understand.

Doris Lord Gordon, Homosassa Pilot should share blame

Your Jan. 30 editorial, In air traffic control we trust, is quick to jump to conclusions which are not supported by the facts. It is rather obvious that your liberal, anti-Reagan attitude has used this tragedy to re-hash the firing of 11,000 controllers in 1981.

The press, including your own newspaper, has reported the facts which are that the Avianca pilot asked for a "priority landing" because he was "low on fuel." In bad weather many planes in the affected area are "low on fuel" and many pilots would like to have "priority" landing status. The correct request is "fuel emergency" and if the pilot had declared such an emergency Flight 52 would have been cleared for immediate landing.

The Avianca pilot also has to share some of the blame because he had to abort the first landing. Knowing that he was low on fuel the pilot also knew that his first approach had to be on target.

Unfortunately, he didn't succeed.

In the old days of slower, propeller-driven aircraft pilots could walk away from some mistakes. With fast, modern jet aircraft the margin for survivable error is very small and you seldom get a second chance.

It is easy to blame the air controllers (and President Reagan) but it is the pilot who has the full responsibility for knowing how much fuel he has and for communicating properly with air control if an emergency exists.

Philip G. Buffinton, Belleair Medicare fiasco

As times goes by, I miss Sen. Pepper more and more!

This latest Medicare fiasco would have been right up his alley and he would have fought President Bush with all his might and flair.

It seems President Bush doesn't realize how incongruous his suggestions on Medicare are.

The federal government has been dipping into the Medicare kitty to reduce the federal deficit - millions of dollars disappear and now senior citizens are asked to contribute more monthly to support higher health costs!

It's positively ridiculous and Congress will not dare pass such a bill.

Dorothy Mallett, Belleair

Re: More increases ahead in price of health care/Bush calls for

$18.50 a month raise in Part B fee over five years, Feb. 3.

It's no wonder he can say "No new taxes," he's making it up by taking from the elderly. Wake up America and weigh all the facts.

Ronald D. Shattles, Zephyrhills Is anyone listening?

Re: Big insurance premiums led to worker's firing, family charges,

Jan. 14.

Since your paper printed the story of what happened to our family since our daughter, Lorraine, was stricken with a brain tumor, you have held up the banner for the large number of uninsured people in this country who have no access or inadequate access to health care, and the suffering that so many of us have endured at the hands of insurance companies and unscrupulous employers, not to mention the inaction of our government. Although Sen. Graham wrote me that he is praying for our daughter, that is obviously not enough. (He may refer to the epistle of St. James in his prayer time for further clarification on this issue.) It is obvious from the overwhelming response of your readers that we do not stand alone in our heartache and financial disaster. I would like to thank Carol Gentry, the reporter on this story, your editorial staff and your readers for their response in favor of a major change in our health care system. I hope someone is listening.

Mary Colleti (Lorraine Coletti's mother), Tampa

The small minority of Americans who voice opposition to a national health care plan still want the highest quality care, they want it free and they want it now. But they are so influenced by Reagan-style propaganda, they just don't want it called anything that sounds like socialism.

Jonathan Wade, Largo Share your opinions

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