1. Archive

Both political parties at fault for America's woes

I have received numerous requests to contribute money to support the Democratic Party. In past years I have always responded, however, this year and for the foreseeable future, I plan to make my contributions instead to Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, various environmental organizations and charities. My reasons are as follows:

1. Sen. Chiles' decision not to run due to his frustration over the budget process.

2. The whole process of buying elections compounded by the recent revelations of the five senators who supported Keating's S&L machinations.

3. The pork barrel handling of DOD budgets, without regard to the real question of military readiness.

4. The disasters of deregulation in the S&L industry.

5. The compromising of airline safety and competence with airline deregulation.

6. The lack of action on leveraged buyouts conducted by incompetent money manipulators who operate without regard to the product or the employees.

7. The lack of action on stock market manipulations, with gambling on futures, margin buying, and programmed trading.

8. The public housing frauds.

9. The extremely slow reaction to environmental problems such as acid rain, oil spills, toxic waste dumps, and a generally rapidly deteriorating environment.

10. A feudal system approach to humanity with our homeless, our mentally retarded street people, our AIDS sufferers and our down-trodden migrant farm workers.

I realize that we have had eight years of movie actor leadership, and another year of yuppie administration, but Congress passes the laws and there are more Democrats in Congress than Republicans. Therefore, I feel both parties are at fault. It begins to sound more and more like the last days of the Roman senate before the dictators took over. In view of the Soviet upsets, we may be on the road to revolution ourselves.

You will notice that I have not mentioned taxes, drugs, Social Security, Medicare, or abortion. I have never objected to paying my taxes as long as I felt they were well spent, and I applaud the elimination of tax dodges and shelters. I feel the drug problem cannot be solved with police action. It is a sickness of our civilization and the only solution I know is for people to stop using them. As for the remainder, my main concern is that Congress or the president will undo what has already been accomplished.

Walter H. Scott, Indian Rocks Beach

Water-saving invention

I read with interest Jeanne Malmgren's column of Feb. 4 concerning a new water-saving device for the flush toilet. However, Ms. Malmgren perpetuates a historical inaccuracy concerning the flush toilet's inventor, Sir Thomas Crapper. In earlier days I would have hesitated to write on this subject to avoid offense to certain delicate persons, but as we approach the new century it seems that most anything can appear in newspaper print.

Ms. Malmgren writes that "When Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet in 1884, water wasn't the endangered resource it is these days." She is not alone in missing the fact that Crapper developed the flush toilet to save water in Victorian London. Nineteenth century bathroom facilities usually consisted of simply a pipe and valve coming from a water source. A common problem was persons who

would leave the valve open so as to get a perpetual flushing action. This waste of water so shocked the local water boards of the 1880s that inventions were requested for conserving London's limited fresh water supplies. In response, Crapper developed his water-saving flush system. Try propping open the valve on a modern toilet and you'll quickly see that the flushing action ceases.

Travelers to London will find Crapper's invention on display in the basement of the Science Museum at South Kensington (in a museum case, not in the room marked "gents"). Moreover, the observant visitor to Westminster Abbey may notice a few manhole covers with the name "Crapper" among the tombs of England's worthies. Interested persons wishing to investigate the particulars of the life of Thomas Crapper, plumber to King Edward VII, should consult the biography Flushed with Pride.

I trust that this will complete the Times' file on this important subject.

Reggie L. Hudson, Associate Professor of

Chemistry, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg

Spring training lock-out

Re: The Spring training lock-out.

Let me see if I've got this straight. When I go to the ballpark and buy my ticket, who gets the money?


I pay the man to watch a game so who gets the money?

And why shouldn't he? He earned it, didn't he?

And when I buy a baseball cap, who gets the money?

Of course!

Who gets the money when I buy baseball cards, batting helmets, T-shirts, warm-up jackets, and souvenir baseballs?

That's right.

Ooooh, that's a lot of money!

Yes, it is a lot of money.

It's a lot of money for who?


Now we're getting somewhere. "Naturally" gets the money.

No. You're not paying attention. "Who" gets the money.

That's what I'm trying to find out!

Now listen. When you go to go the ballpark and watch a game being played, "Who" gets the money.

"Who" gets the money.

That's right.

So if there isn't a game, who won't get any money.

He can afford to miss a payday.

Who can.

Of course, he can.

And if there is a game, who will be playing it?

There is a game being played and it's being played by "Who." "Who" is the man's name.

That's what I'm asking you!

Now don't get excited. I'm telling you that there is a game being played and "who's" playing it.

Who is playing a game.


Who is winning the game?

He might be.

Well, I'm losing the game, that's for sure!

Now don't be silly. How can you be losing when you're not even playing?

I'll figure this out tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Oh, he's the commissioner.

With apologies to B. A. and L. C.

Bob Durbin, St. Petersburg

Legalize marijuana

I am deeply disturbed by our government's recent crackdown on marijuana consumers, and by the irrational disinformation campaign against cannabis use that has continued unabated for over 50 years. Today, the major arguments against marijuana (also known as cannabis or hemp) are as follows: 1. Legalizing cannabis would create more users; 2. The potency of cannabis has increased and the plant is therefore more dangerous; 3. Cannabis is

detrimental to health.

Here are the facts.

1. Marijuana was made legal in Holland in the late '60s. According to H. W. Hansen, a narcotics officer located in Heerlen, the percentage of marijuana users fell dramatically after legalization. Currently, about 1.5 percent of the Dutch population uses Cannabis. The percentage of users in this country is at least 15 times greater.

2. According to a study published in the Kansas Law Review (Vol. 36), the percentage of THC in cannabis confiscated by the Drug Enforcement Agency has remained stable over the last few years. In 1981, the mean percentage of THC contained in confiscated plants was 2.92. By 1987, the mean percentage had actually dropped to 2.5. This proves government figures regarding potency have been greatly exaggerated.

3. According to NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), our government has sponsored two long term health studies on cannabis, one in Jamaica and one in Costa Rica. The results of these studies are not widely known because they discovered marijuana users live longer than non-marijuana users. In over 8,000 years of known usage, no one has ever died from marijuana, yet we have over 400,000 deaths every year attributed to alcohol or tobacco.

Despite this evidence, more than 300,000 people are arrested every year for violation of our marijuana laws, mostly for minor possession. When these people are jailed, it costs the taxpayers $30,000 per year per abuse. They should go after the truly dangerous drugs, like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and heroin. Our country was founded on the principals of freedom. Must our Bill of Rights be revoked in the pursuit of a relatively harmless plant?

Ed Hassle, Tampa

The fall of Flint, contd.

A recent letter (The fall of Flint, Feb. 6) offers a lengthy critique of a previous Times article on the symbiotic decline of the fortunes of both the General Motors Corp. and the city of Flint, Mich., as described in the article and in the film, Roger and me.

Although the author of the letter presents credentials as "a native of Flint, Mich." and "a real estate analyst in that metropolitan area for 40 years," the overall excellence of his message seems clouded by a reliance on two basic misconceptions.

First, he seems to share the popular view that "high wages and satisfaction of union demands" have

hindered GM in its contest with foreign competitors. This is a highly questionable assumption, since most economic observers agree that both German and Japanese auto workers now earn more than their American counterparts.

His second error would seem to arise in his interpretation of the widespread dissatisfaction with GM's products as somehow indicative of a lack of patriotism on the part of the American car-buying public. ("Every purchase of a Japanese auto has helped to bring down the American auto industry," etc.)

As to precisely who is bringing down the American auto industry, perhaps the relevant question is not what are we buying but why are we buying it. And the answer to this is perhaps best illustrated by contrasting GM's thoroughly dismal reliability record vis-a-vis that of Japanese manufacturers, as substantiated by 562,000 responses to a Consumers Union's questionnaire reporting on frequency-of-repair records for 1983-1989 vehicles and documented in their 1990 Buying Guide, pages 174-211.

In the words of the immortal Casey Stengel, "You could look it up."

Ben Tutoli, St. Petersburg

People, activity mean life

Re: Music in St. Petersburg's downtown, editorial, Feb. 9.

I very much appreciated the content of your above-captioned editorial and I totally agree with your conclusion that "In the long run, people will be attracted to live and work downtown because of the activity, not despite it."

As a resident of the Bayfront Tower in an apartment overlooking construction of Barnett Tower, the Bay Plaza department store and garage, the Florida Suncoast Dome, and, in the past years, McNulty Station, the St. Petersburg Times and City Center, I've certainly been subjected to noise! And, I do hear noises emanating from Jannus Landing when there are concerts there. Honestly, any noise from either construction or concert/people activity is better than the total lack of it that's present when no one is working or playing downtown. People and activity mean life. We need more of both rather than less.

St. Petersburg needs to bring its noise ordinances to the 20th century!

Peter W. Kersker, St. Petersburg