Re: Parent's universal wish: independent, happy kids, by Ellen Goodman, Dec. 18. I agreed with the column until I ran across her comment, "we are neglecting our children for luxuries." Although I am sure this is true in some families, I feel that in reality, most people work because they have to. In my own family, my husband and I work just to pay rent, the utility bills and buy groceries. We have no "expensive electronic gadgets." In fact, while in the mall over the weekend, we were shocked to find that you can't buy an LP record anymore.
My husband and I manage a program where we provide single-family homes for homeless families, at rents solely based on their income. These parents must work to provide their families with everyday needs just as I believe the majority of people in the United States do. Given the opportunity, I would love to be able to be there when my children came in from school, spend more time with my husband, and not feel so exhausted after a day's work. But that opportunity is not there for me or for many other families. We work because we have to in order to survive.
Peggy Strelser, St. Petersburg
A pause in reform
Each of the past five years in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have been equivalent to about 20 years of history. The incredible swiftness of change has put the Soviet Union on the brink of a total breakdown and chaos.
At some point, there must be a pause, a slowing down, to let the changes made so far settle in, before resuming the breakneck pace of reform. This explains Gorbachev's recent shift to the right.
If Gorbachev were to totally distance himself from the military, he would lose the ability to keep a "leash" on them. Who would then control them? What are the alternatives to Gorbachev having some "dictatorial" powers at this point in time? There are two:
1.Anarchy and civil war.
2.Military dictatorship and civil war.
Who would control the massive nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union in either case? Answer: The military!
What, for example, would be the mood of the Chinese leadership and military if either scenario should occur?
We must hope the Soviet populations wake up, quickly, and trust Gorbachev to preserve some sort of balance. If not, I fear the world will wind up closer to nuclear war than at any time in history.
Jerry Lennartz, Dunedin
Not so happy new year?
A not so happy new year for America.
As we usher in the 91st year of a waning 20th century we reluctantly hope to hear new political resolutions and who we can rely upon to espouse and implement them. But sadly we are burdened with the same faceless leaders that many of us with alacrity chose to restore to power in the hope that their mediocrity would somehow approach statesmanship, but the chance of that now happening remains remote indeed.
With a conflict on the horizon and an economic downturn taking place we see signs of a U.S. president becoming a prisoner of his own Operation Desert Shield, a carterization he has so graphically attempted to avoid. A president who for months has not addressed a single domestic issue but works full time emoting futile expletives at his Middle East nemesis.
This is the zenith of a decade of militaristic leadership that dominated the free wheeling and violent '80s and in its continuance we are again being asked for the greater sacrifice of committing young Americans to the perils of a meaningless war.
With the happening imminent and the leadership remaining wanting, we have once more become victims of that ageless power struggle between the executive and the congressional branches over the critical issues of war and peace and who has that power to so declare. Adding to the danger inherent in this constitutional issue is that neither branch contains statesmen to match the stature of some of their more illustrious predecessors.
So with this lack of definitive leadership we enter a new year with trepidation caused by the uncertainties of a recessional economy and the more traumatic expectancies of a Middle East crisis and the question arises as to when we can again look forward to the peace and tranquility so often mandated but rarely enjoyed. Events to date indicate 1991 will not be the one in which that mandate will be fulfilled.
A not so happy new year for America!
Edward G. DiPanni, Clearwater
A "state of anarchy'
Re: Conscientious objectors, Dec. 23.
I can find little agreement with Bob Brister's letter on the subject. I can only agree that "full conscientious objectors" actually exist, and when drafted by the military are so recognized and, if otherwise qualified, are assigned non-combat duties. This category does not volunteer but when drafted for service they do not shrink serving their country in a non-combat status.
I do disagree with classifying the other four categories cited by the director of American Friends Service Committee as "conscientious objectors." Individuals mentioned in these categories (non-combatants, selective objectors, nuclear pacifists and non-cooperators) are only conscientious objectors when faced with a difficult, undesirable or unsafe situation. Many of these categories volunteer for military service and only become conscientious objectors when service in a war zone appears possible. I classify these as the unpatriotic cowards of our society who attempt to hide under religious or other beliefs to protect their own skin. In my opinion the public has no respect but much contempt for these slackers who are willing to enjoy the freedoms and benefits of this great country but are afraid to assist others in preserving and protecting the greatest country ever to exist in this world.
When this country permits each person to decide whether a war is "just" or "unjust," and thus individually having the privilege of acting accordingly (as proposed by some of Bob Brister's categories of objectors), then we are in a state of anarchy and the United States of America and all its freedoms and benefits are lost.
John T. Callicotte, Treasure Island
Re: Rage is a common bond that unites rape victims, Dec. 19.
I read with "rage" the James J. Kilpatrick column on rape.
My thought focused immediately on the legal profession. Judges, lawmakers and lawyers. I used to have great respect for all of them. Now, when I meet a lawyer, I wonder what kind of person I am speaking with.
So many hoodlums are set free after their guilt in some crime has been established, it leaves me confused.
What kind of stupidity justifies freeing a miscreant because his Miranda rights were misread? Such nonsense! The guilty party suddenly becomes no longer responsible for the wrong he committed, and goes free, until the next time.
It is time for the lawmakers to rewrite their laws and procedures.
Frank Visentin, Inverness
Re: Drug use down, Dec. 20.
Drug use is down, so let's give the Bushman a pat on the back.
Wrong. Here's how it goes. The alcohol and tobacco industry have their lobbyists in Washington, and the marijuana industry doesn't.
While this country spends millions of dollars (or is it billions?) on police, border patrols, prisons and slanted studies showing the evils of marijuana use, our children can't read, some are hungry, medical care for our elderly is pathetic, and worst of all, our freedoms are being stepped on.
I object strongly to the government spending my tax dollars to stop a victimless crime, when as a woman, there are few places in this country where I can walk alone after dark, and not fear violence.
I object strongly to the government telling me how to get high. If you think I'm crazy, imagine the government telling you what to drink with dinner _ shades of a police state.
The article stated that there are 10.2-million marijuana users in this country. Are all these people criminals? If they are, exactly what is the crime and against whom is it perpetrated?
If drugs were legal, then the revenues would be taxed, the laws would see that they were only sold to adults, addicts would not be afraid to seek treatment, and organized crime would have to find another country in which to control the drug trade.
Education and treatment are the only legitimate ways to treat the drug problem in this country. The bullying politics of fear of the last two administrations are an insult to any democracy.
Joan Illardo Little, Indian Rocks Beach
One bright spot
Re: General doubts U.S. readiness, Dec. 20.
Thank goodness Hussein can't read English.
Joe Sherry, Tampa
Change in priorities needed
Twenty years ago, before the era of women's liberation and equal rights, young women looking toward their future were taught that they would marry and become wives and mothers. If thoughts of a medical career were entertained, it was to be in the position of a nurse, not, heaven forbid, a doctor. Times are quite different today, with a myriad of options open to women. Many career choices offer higher salaries, better benefits and retirement plans, less stress and more desirable working hours than nursing.
It takes a special sort of person to be a nurse _ one who is willing and able to give a large part of themselves to others in return for a feeling of gratification from making a difference in someone's life _ a feeling of a job well done. More often than not, this feeling of gratification is no longer possible. Ask any nurse, and I guarantee that she or he will say that what they would like most in their job is a less stressful situation in which to work. This means, simply, fewer patients to care for _ where a back rub and a fresh glass of ice water are not luxuries, but routine parts of a patient's care. Where a nurse is not working in a potentially dangerous situation, from having too many patients, too many things to do in the allotted time to do them, and do them safely. Where there is time enough to properly wash hands between patients. I spoke to a registered nurse recently who left a high paying job in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. Almost tearfully, she spoke of how disappointed she was. She had been a nurse for less than a year.
Some people enter nursing thinking that it will be a quick way to make a lot of money. Licensed practical nursing degrees may be obtained after one year of schooling, and RN two-year programs are quite popular in Florida. All too often, nurses are ill-prepared for what they face in real, working situations, as there is just too much information to learn and apply in such a short time.
A study by Florida's Health Care Cost Containment Board concludes that 20 percent of nurses' time is spent on work that others could do. The concept of "total patient care," and budget cuts in hospitals, practically eliminating certified nurses' aides, are responsible for this. There are also numerous tasks and responsibilities that LPNs, by institutional decree, are not allowed to perform and assume, thereby increasing the load of the RN. "Total patient care" is a wonderful concept, but is unrealistic.
Patients are sicker than ever before. Due to cuts in Medicare, they are discharged from the hospital sooner, leaving only the most severely ill. Nursing homes, which suffer from a lack of professionalism, supplies, equipment and staffing, are seeing those discharged patients who, a few years ago, would have remained hospitalized to a fuller recovery, as are public and home health agencies. The nursing situation has become a Catch-22: As sorrowful, burned-out nurses leave the profession, and others fail to enter, the nursing shortage worsens, and nursing becomes more stressful and dangerous.
What is the highest priority in our society? Certainly, it is not human lives. It is money. Nurses make less than their counterparts who care for machines and computers. Why? Because people are not a priority, and things that make money are. Responsibility for human lives should be the highest priority of all.
Recruiting nurses through glamorous advertising campaigns is not the answer to the nursing shortage. The solution is a drastic change in priorities.
Valerie Greathouse, RN, Dunedin
Right to kill?
Re: At last, peace for Nancy Cruzan, editorial, Dec. 20.
If it is possible to make a case for the right to kill Nancy Cruzan, you did not do so.
Whose rights do you deem paramount in the instant case, family or victim's? How do you justify so casually dismissing due process of law or the state's obligation to be her advocate? Your denial of due process is what makes this case about the right to kill, not the right to die.
If this were a case of a hopelessly comatose, elderly and wealthy widow who once, several years ago, casually mentioned in conversation that she wanted to be kept alive at all cost, versus some greedy heirs, what would you say then?
Doing things your way you may never know the facts, because without due process there is no guarantee that they will be discovered.
So whom would you rather have decide the case? Cousin Nitwit or Mr. Chief Justice?
And another thing _ do you really believe being slowly starved to death is peaceful?
John Patrick Donovan, St. Petersburg
Federal election fund
Re: The wrong medicine, editorial, Dec. 16.
I have not, nor will I ever check the box marked for the federal election fund. The reason is simple. It is a lie. The form states that checking the box will not raise my taxes. Impossible. For every box checked, a dollar of tax money must be spent. Increasingly, it is borrowed money. Remove the lie, put the box at the end of the tax form and let the people contribute as much as they want and include the amount on their tax bill. Then I could support the federal election fund.
Nick Barker, Crystal River
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