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Multiple trucks are a "menace' to all who use the highways

Re: Big trucks continue to tax the limits of safety, by Robert Pittman, June 2. Surely no sane person could wish to have more and bigger trucks on our highways, but the folly of our lawmakers _ state and national _ apparently has no limit.

Driving on the interstate highways can be a fearful experience when whole fleets of huge trucks come roaring along beside a mere passenger car, like battleships beside a canoe. These huge vehicles often seem to travel in convoys of a dozen or more, and in inclement weather the sheets of mist and spray thrown up can be blinding and deadly. The truck drivers sitting high above in their cabs are apparently above all this annoyance, but to the mere car driver it can be a horrifying experience. With single trucks it is a fearful experience, but to make it much worse with "multiple rigs" or "tandems" appears to be lunacy and beyond comprehension.

I'm a long-time member of AAA and wonder why we have had so little protest from this powerful organization. They have great influence and their millions of members, once alerted and stirred up, would scare hell out of the legislators and congressmen who have allowed this insane situation to develop.

The Times is a fine newspaper and I do hope that you will vigorously oppose this multiple truck scheme, a menace to all who use the highways which, by the way, will suffer a destructive pounding from this much heavier traffic. I do hope you will keep on hammering at the multiple truck issue _ and I'm certain the public will take up the cudgel.

Ed Mason, Zephyrhills

Robert Pittman deserves a gold medal for his June 2 column regarding the trucking industry's putting more than one trailer behind the big trucks. We should not have to take chances driving our cars on the highway when the trucks with many trailers may kill or maim us. We have too many accidents now without increasing our chances with more trailers behind a truck.

All of us should write to our senators and representatives and demand more safety on our highways instead of trucks with more than one trailer.

K.

L. Frost, Crystal River

Congratulations for the column regarding legislation to authorize even bigger trucks on Florida highways.

I would not expect the big city papers to be as brave. I had my experience with the trucking lobby some years ago. I testified before a legislative committee in opposition to one of their bills to allow larger axle loads on highways. In the large hearing room there were two or three persons opposed; but the room was packed and out into the corridors with a crowd in favor _ some pretty rough looking characters. Well, the bill was opposed by the governor, and the member of the legislature carrying the bill for the truck men warned the governor that if he did not sign the bill he would hold up all highway funds. That's the way they operate; but in this case they didn't get what they wanted.

I imagine Bush will be on their side _ what's good for China is good for the truckers!

Likewise, Florida. After all, who said we have the best Legislature that money can buy?

Bravo for the Times in publishing your article.

John G. Tighe, New Port Richey

Another view

Well, I have finally heard the term "big truck lobbyist" enough times that I have to speak up. Do I earn my living in the trucking industry? I sure do! Does your very lifestyle depend on trucks? You bet it does!

Think about it. You're lagging behind a big truck, trying to get the children to school on time. How do you think the school got built? Every brick, board, nail, desk, book _ you guessed it _ had to be hauled by truck.

Trying to get around that big rig to get to the grocery store so you can feed your family tonight? Without that big rig, what exactly would you find when you got to the grocery? Every item on that shelf had to travel at least once by truck, not to mention the ingredients of each item. Did you know that two of the largest trucking companies in Florida haul nothing but groceries in their own trucks?

So you resent that you must share your highway with trucks? How would you have even purchased your automobile were it not for the trucks on the highway? Every part in your automobile at one time had to travel by truck. How do you think it got to the dealership so that you could put the first mile on it when you drove it off the lot?

You earn your living working in a manufacturing plant? How long could your business survive without trucks to bring your materials and trucks to get your product to the consumer? It doesn't take a great brain to figure out that burdensome legislation and heavy taxes that affect the trucking industry in reality affect every one of us.

Just this past weekend I had the horrifying experience of seeing a TV special on the results of a famine in the Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are starving there. The military leaders insist that the country has enough food for all; the problem, it seems, is they have no roads or trucks to get the food to the people.

Safety is the most important concern of the trucking industry in this country, and its safety record has improved materially in the past 10 years due to carrier and government effort. Safety standards of reputable trucking firms far exceed those of the average motorist.

The next time anyone waves a picture of a mangled body resulting from a truck accident, I'd like for him to see one of the bones of a child in the Sudan. Any vehicle accident is a tragedy. The lack of an effective highway system can be a tragedy for an entire country.

Carol Stokes, Auburndale

Lemon Law

Re: Hyundais top Florida lemon list.

Your May 29 article on the 1990 Lemon Index of car manufacturers gave consumers good information in a nutshell. However, the story was flawed in that the pre-1989 Lemon Law was misrepresented.

The early Lemon Law did not require consumers to appeal to manufacturers' arbitration boards unless those boards were certified. Because the Division of Consumer Services failed and refused to ensure compliance with the certification requirements, no certified manufacturer boards existed. Thus, consumers were not bound by the arbitration requirement under state law.

The pre-1989 law also did not require consumers to go to court. If the division had enforced the letter and intent of the law, as it was empowered in Chapter 681 F.S., the need for litigation may have been substantially minimized. In fact, a system similar to Lemon Law II could have been in place years ago. Court action became a necessity solely out of the state's complete disregard for the law and the consumers who were supposed to be protected.

I feel it is important to keep these facts straight so that others may appreciate the way Florida government really works when it comes to consumer protection.

Larry Patterson, St. Petersburg

Pumpkin "baby'

I fantasize constantly that these male, pro-life storm troopers, who are obsessed with uterine domination, each swallows a pumpkin seed that grows into an eight- or nine-pound pumpkin. Let's see how they'd like to carry that "baby" around for nine months! Ha!

Jeanette Camp, New Port Richey

One other problem

You recently featured a fine editorial page on what are the central problems in the Tampa Bay area. Mentioned are discussions on transportation, growth, water, etc. I agree with much of it.

There is one other central problem, and that was pictured on the front page: intolerance, homophobia and hate. A simple proposal, a human rights amendment to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, gender, religion or handicaps, and so many people opposed it.

I am so satisfied that the County Commission and City Council saw fit to vote in favor of justice and tolerance. Thanks to them for their vote of conscience. It's good to have assurances of commitment to uphold civil rights for all. If only someone could get that message through to the White House!

The "me first" mentality of the 1980s is a death knell for the coalition politics of the 1990s. We can no longer afford the "divide and conquer" single-issue focus that so hobbled us in the past.

We must fight together for adequate funding for care, education and research for non-discriminatory access to health. We must support families in all their diversity, not only the right wing's definition of "traditional family."

Jennie Kranak, Port Richey

Keep MacDill open

MacDill must be kept open as an active military installation. There certainly is justifiable concern about the economic impact a closing would bring about and the effect it would have on military retirees services but I feel we are not giving our attention to the most important factor for the continued operation of MacDill. MacDill is an important strategic and tactical component in the perimeter defense of our nation. In less than one hour's flight time from the coast of Florida, we have several unfriendly, unstable, and even hostile governments to the United States, without even taking into consideration the instability of the governments in South America. We need an active MacDill, let's not allow it to become a victim of the greedy politicians and so-called real estate development entrepreneurs who have done such a complete job of destroying the banks and S&Ls of our country. Don't let them destroy our defense system.

Edwin G. Hogan, Clearwater

In regard to the fate of MacDill Air Force Base, I'm concerned about the lack of arguments about how this may affect our state by military (strategic) means. We rank second behind Hawaii in geographical vulnerability; yet we are expected to swallow these cuts, where Hawaii stands to gain.

If these cuts with MacDill are allowed, this will leave the entire West Coast virtually without a military presence. I'm not paranoid; yet I feel this point of view has been horribly overlooked. And please don't go into a "brouhaha" about having Homestead AFB. They're still trying to bury their embarrassment over that Cuban pilot who defected by flying to Miami undetected!

In essence, this hemisphere in which we live is not without conflict and we have every duty to make sure this area stands secure. If we are not taking notes of our actions here, you can best believe that those who wish us ill are.

Washington couldn't care less about the masses who will be added to our already overburdened unemployment rolls. Not all are military personnel, folks _ as we will painfully see if MacDill is closed.

Please let your politicians know how you feel now! Once this base is gone, it can never be replaced. If it boggles your mind as to why they would close a facility that was one of the fundamental keys in the orchestration of Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf war, please let yourselves be heard now.

Clara Murzynski, Largo

Re: New hit list would close MacDill, 22 other operations, June 2.

After closing Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's list of bases we will save $1.7-billion a year. Russia is after $250-billion in "loans," most of it guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers who will have to pay after Russia defaults or refuses to pay. It is obvious that a good portion will be used by Russia to continue building its military power as other countries have done with American taxpayer "loans" (Iraq) while we reduce our military security. If the Russian needs this amount, they can get it by reducing their tremendous military machine and stop supplying their friends with arms. For a lousy $1.7-billion savings a year we should not close any military bases or reduce the personnel that we will need when Russia tries to push us around again in a few years, and we won't have the time to build a strong military. We should use the money that the U.S. taxpayer would have to pay on Russian defaulted loans for our poor, elderly, sick, homeless, education, city infrastructures, etc.

Russia has defaulted on bonds and loans since World War I.

America, in essence, now is a bankrupt nation.

If those in Washington don't straighten out, the American people should vote them out or they deserve what they get.

John Wasylow, St. Petersburg

Re: Military installation closings.

Cutting the budget is a necessity. Spending large amounts of money for politicians to go around the country with expense accounts is foolish. Let the military decide what bases it can close while keeping its effectiveness high, and keep the politicians in Washington. Maybe they could do some cutting of their own _ say, in their paychecks and perks!

J. A. Griffin, St. Petersburg

More on national sales tax

A recent letter to the editor proposed the elimination of the federal income tax and its replacement by a national sales tax.

There are several aspects of this that would impact favorably on members of all income brackets. One of the more interesting of these is the encouragement of personal savings.

When bank deposits grow in relation to loans, the cost of borrowing money falls. As interest expense is a significant cost of doing business and, as this expense would be reduced as savings grow, one would expect the consumer price of goods and services to drop as a percentage of personal income.

Given that a national sales tax would then raise prices, one might expect the actual price of goods and services to remain fairly flat, the difference being that more cash would be available to purchase them.

The benefits to the economy under such a scenario would be tremendous and would clearly include an increase in the standard of living for members of all income levels.

Japan's personal savings rate has been several percentage points above that in the United States for many years. Not only has this provided additional security for retiring Japanese workers, but it also has been a key element of that country's well-demonstrated economic growth.

Jay B. Johnson, Clearwater

Positive thinking

Positive thinking and action.

If we check our history books on the days of Rome, Italy shortly prior to the fall of the Roman Empire we must sadly admit that conditions in our world today are startlingly similar to those last days of Rome ending so tragically by the year 395 A.D.

As then, our society has degenerated socially, financially, physically, and we are beset by inequities of many sorts.

Our world is being smothered by corruption, starvation, immoralities, disease, anti-environment and wars brought on by dissension in many parts of the world. Corporate greed is a huge offender.

But, it can be stopped by our joint positive thinking and acting on these "negatives." It must begin now with you and me.

United we can do it, divided we will surely fall, in the immortal words of Aesop.

Time is of the essence, for sure.

David Moore, Clearwater

Neutering the workplace

It is outrageous and must be corrected that women entering the marketplace get less pay, worse jobs, ceilings on promotion and the other common inequities. The problem of sexual harassment is mushier. Obviously, toward the top of the harassment scale _ repeated unwelcome advances, promotions dependent on sex, etc. _ women need and deserve protection. Some of the complaints of harassment, though, seem to aim at getting sex out of the world of work altogether. That, I suggest, is a lost cause.

Freud had the insight that "sexuality inheres everywhere and throughout our lives." Stephen Jay Gould points out that Darwin's natural selection makes an even more profound point. His survival of the fittest is driven not by combat but by competition for reproductive advantage. "The creature that leaves more surviving offspring gets a Darwinian edge," he writes, "all else follows from this basic principle. Since sexuality is so intimately involved in this struggle for reproductive success, our lives pass in the grip of its continual power. Almost everything we do has a sexual motif .

.

." Charlie Chaplin, in his autobiography, expressed these feelings on the personal level: "Procreation is nature's principal occupation, and every man, whether he be young or old, when meeting any woman, measures the potential of sex between them."

This being our common predicament, neutering the workplace is: (a) not possible, and (b) as far as I am concerned, not desirable.

John M. Lee, St. Petersburg

Help for the whale

Re: Injured whale is found in mangroves near causeway, May 31.

I applaud the actions of the Tarpon Springs police and fire departments.

During the recent Pygmy Sperm whale stranding on Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs, the police and fire departments acted quickly and confidently. Their quick response to the stranding call assured that the small whale had the best chance possible at survival.

Upon arrival of the Clearwater Marine Science Center to the stranding site, we found the whale covered in wet towels and officers present assisting the sick whale. Police escorting the rescue teams to and from the stranding site sped up the critical transportation process.

The staff of the Clearwater Marine Science Center would like to thank the officers of the Tarpon Springs police and fire departments for their courtesy and assistance during the stranding of the Pygmy Sperm whale.

Dennis Kellenberger, executive director

Clearwater Marine Science Center

Photo opportunities

With 18 months to go before the 1992 presidential election, and with Sununu trotting out George Bush for at least one "photo opportunity" a day, that comes to 500 or 600 such opportunities before election day finally comes around.

Can you imagine the Democrats producing that many "photo opportunities" in that time _ particularly anything as appealing and newsworthy as the one in your June 2 paper showing George and Barbara trying unsuccessfully to coax their dog to get back into the picture?

James R. Benford, St. Petersburg

Taking the money

Our legislators don't believe in the axiom, "Take the money and run." They run, then take the money.

Joe Sherry, Tampa

Share your opinions

We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731. Or they can be sent by facsimile machine by calling the Times' fax number, 893-8675. They should be brief and must include the handwritten signature and address of the writer.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

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