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America's wealth and opportunity not reaching all its children

America is a nation of great wealth and opportunity. It is at our shores that generations of refugees have found freedom. The American dream is the chance to transform meager means into prosperity. America always extends the hand of democracy to the oppressed in foreign lands. Ours is the nation to which others turn for charity in times of disaster, famine and political upheaval. As Americans, we're proud to answer the call for help. But what of the pleas from the needy at home? Does our compassion for our own children match our concern for others? A new report by the Children's Defense Fund leads me to answer "No."

It's a fact of life that one in five American children is poor. For preschoolers, it's one in four; for newborns, nearly one in three. Despite our wealth, more than 12-million American children live on the edge of disease and despair.

The report debunks many of the long-held myths regarding poverty. In the past, child poverty conjured up the image of a black child living with a single mother on welfare in an urban area. Today, one of 10 poor children matches that stereotype. In fact, the majority of America's poor children are white or Hispanic and live with a working parent in the suburbs.

Most shocking is that solutions to the challenges facing poor children are within our reach. Head Start, prenatal and child health care, safe child care, job training and quality education are proven to help families escape the grasp of poverty. These investment opportunities would pay bountiful dividends if only we had the political will to provide the down payment.

A nation that can afford to create space stations and smart bombs should also find the means to produce healthy and successful children.

The "Made in America" label should apply to more than clothes, cars and cola. Made in America must be the identifier of a generation of safe, secure and skilled young citizens.

Jack Levine, Executive Director

Florida Center for Children & Youth, Tallahassee

In the nation's best interest

The loss of MacDill Air Force Base will be a serious blow to the area, however, the reason any military installation exists is for the protection of our country and our way of life.

Many benefits will materialize as the result of these closures. Firstly, the monies saved can be redirected into a national health program: a benefit all Americans will enjoy, keeping in mind, almost 40-million Americans have no insurance at all.

Secondly, the land can be devoted to other uses; increasing the tax base and providing a complex to be enjoyed by all the people.

I suggest that each of us who reside in the Tampa Bay area look upon this closure to be in the best interest of our nation, lick our wounds and go on to bigger and better things.

Frank A. DiCenzo, Clearwater

Defend and demand

It is time for those of us who have become addicted to cable TV to put the wagons in a circle in order to defend ourselves against our ever-increasing rates and demand that the proper governmental agencies and officials justify their existence by taking the necessary actions to prevent the free-wheeling and monopolistic practices of an industry that has a very large portion of the public in its clutch.

The Times recently ran several articles which led to the conclusion that there is an unwritten agreement among most of the cable TV companies to avoid competition by keeping out of areas where one of them is already entrenched (no-pun intended). This is so in spite of the fact that each company's franchise entitles it to operate throughout the issuing county. The absence of competition gives each company free rein to increase rates, reduce services and abuse individual rights.

John Merline's article on May 22, headed Free market will bring lower rates for cable TV cites the fact that after four years of annual rate increases in Montgomery, Ala., Storer Communication slashed them last October by almost $2 and increased its basic service from 29 to 61 channels. Why? Because two weeks prior to the reduction, Montgomery Cablevision began laying its competitive wire in Montgomery.

Recently Vision Cable of Pinellas withdrew its request for Pasco County's fifth cable franchise, it had proposed to service the new Trinity Oaks subdivision, they said that the fact that TCI Cablevision was going to lay wire in that area had nothing to do with its decision and that the main reason for the withdrawal was economics. They must be kidding, because the size and scope of Trinity Oaks indicates that there will be enough meat on that bone for both of them to chew on. Mind you, they said the main reason was economics, I guess another reason was to avoid crossing over into TCI's bailiwick.

I have always been under the impression that a service or a thing had to be ordered before it was delivered _ even if it was free. We are now told that beginning in June, TCI Cablevision and others will send its subscribers a pay-movie channel without the formality of receiving an order and unless they are stopped by the courts or the customer, we will be billed for the service after the hook of a one-month freebie.

Unless the courts take action and the regulatory agencies do a better job of regulating, we, the consumer, have no recourse except to pull the plug.

Joe Guida, New Port Richey

Alternative to base closings

Re: U.S. has difficult ally in France, June 3, by Wilbur Landrey. The thought occurred to me that the continued presence of 100,000 of our troops stationed in Europe with all of the costs involved, i.e., shipping families back and forth, supplying schooling for the children, plus the paychecks being spent there instead of here, that in the face of our bases closing (MacDill, Miami and countless others), it would be a much better and fairer thing to do for this country to bring those troops home and leave our bases alone. Mr. Landrey made it clear that France was unwilling to allow us to have too much authority in the overall usefulness of NATO; they prefer the European community's authority. This being the case, why not do something for Americans? The base closing program obviously is to cut the costs of operation, but the removal of 100,000 troops from Europe would accomplish a great deal and perhaps allow some, if not all, bases here in the states to remain open.

H. N. Weller, New Port Richey

Future looks bright

As I read of the graduations of our young folks I couldn't help but think of the heavy burden they must carry on their shoulders.

Quite likely one of them will be our president at a future date. Many others will be in legislative positions and will create and pass the laws of the land we are living in.

There will be many others who will be with the law enforcement agencies to protect the citizens from law infractions through the courts where others serve as judges.

Many of these fine students will practice medicine, law or social services all essential to our livelihood. However, the great majority will enter the field of services which will provide housing, food and other factors for our well being.

These young men and women will accept their responsibility and discharge it well, so surely God will continue to bless America.

Kenneth F. Evans, Largo

10-years of AIDS

The St. Petersburg Times' Kitty Bennett has produced a fine 10-year summary of AIDS, June 5. To this may be appended a brief note.

Luc Montagnier, discoverer of the AIDS virus, HIV-1, came up last year with a new development: The HIV-1 virus requires a co-factor, mycoplasma fermentans, for the asymptomatic AIDS infection to become the symptomatic AIDS disease. The AIDS infection can go on in a person's body for years and years without any disability or disease to speak of; but virus plus mycoplasma precipitates the illness.

The subject has been taken up in the past six months in the prestigious journals Science and The Lancet.

The credentials of the two journals and of Dr. Luc Montagnier are of the best.

Lyman Warren, M.D., St. Petersburg

Back to reality

President Bush tells us that stopping the "Star Wars" and space station projects may deny our youth their inspiration and dreams. I see them as rather expensive toys. I recall when we got our dreams from the fairy tales in Grimm's Fairy Tales and similar books.

I suggest to George that he go the same route and save a bundle _ might even balance the budget. We are talking about billions of real money. And that is no dream. It is a nightmare.

We need fewer dreams and more reality.

Ralph B. Strickland, St. Petersburg

Catching the criminals

Re: Cat didn't have a license, so woman goes to jail, June 5.

It is such a great comfort to know the police aren't wasting their time chasing rapists, murderers and drug pushers. I feel safe knowing they are out there catching the really desperate criminals, especially since there aren't enough jails.

Now, if they can just put those jaywalkers and parking-ticket violators behind bars, I know I will sleep better.

Sue Eggers, Seminole

Letter, clarification

In the Times' June 1 edition, I made an appeal to all humanitarians to ask their state senators and their state representatives to sponsor a bill during the next session of the Florida Legislature to protect carriage horses. Unfortunately, a key sentence was omitted.

In order to sponsor (introduce) a bill, a legislator must study the bill, of course, so readers were told that if their legislators showed an interest in protecting carriage horses, those readers should write the Carriage Horse Action Committee at P.O. Box 12195, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33733, and a copy of the bill would be sent to their legislators. (Ask the public library for your legislators' names if you don't know them.)

We must help these abused horses, and now is the time for action!

Greta Bunting, St. Petersburg

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