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Outlaw special interests and return U.S.A. to the people

Re: Nation is ready for change, but are the special interests?, by Richard Harwood, Sept. 29.

Special interest groups, political action committees, lobbyists, hard and soft monies, and all the rest are to me, "bribing an elected or appointed person who is in a public office to serve the people of the United States."

These groups and their monies would be better spent on lowering the debt or deficit _ corporate plant improvement, saving our environment and many other items.

Contributions/donations of special favors, gifts or monies to a person, persons or to either party _ Democrat or Republican _ should be outlawed. These groups should be fined, jailed or both.

"We the people" own this country, not the groups above.

William G. Rears, Clearwater

Child Health Day

Did you know that only 60 percent of 2-year-old children in the United States are fully immunized? Monday, Oct. 5, is Child Health Day and the focus this year is on childhood immunizations.

According to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, the major barrier to immunization is not accessibility and not financial status _ it is education. Many parents are not aware of the existence and serious nature of preventable diseases. While most vaccinations are provided during the first one or two years of life, some require a booster as the child gets older.

For more information and to be sure your child is fully immunized, contact your pediatrician, Mother and Child Care of Clearwater, or the local health department.

Marcia Wiseman, Director of Women's and

Children's Services, Morton Plant Hospital,

Clearwater

Everyone pays

What this country needs to boost the economy is everyone paying the same percentage of income tax on their income. The first $10,000 should be tax-free; after that, tax to the top of income (no loopholes) _ plus free medical insurance for all Americans.

Think of the jobs a company could open up if it paid no medical insurance.

Also, after retiring, a person would not have too much to worry about.

Revis C. Hyde, Brooksville

More on liberalism

Re: What is a liberal?, letter to the editor, Sept. 27.

Like most people, I got my political philosophy from my family. I have always felt very fortunate that I was born into a liberal and not a conservative family. It is a rare person who makes the transition from one to the other. Theodore Roosevelt was one of those rare birds. He went from opposing legislation that would have reduced the daily working hours of street car conductors from 15 to 12 hours to being the greatest trust-buster in U.S. history, and the most liberal Republican president of the 20th century.

I imbibed my liberalism from my stepfather, an Albany newspaperman. He wrote the speech that Gov. Glynn of New York delivered in renominating Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and his later editorials contributed powerfully to the cause of Irish freedom. He was the first person I heard say in the first days of the FDR presidency, "I think we have a great president" (this in a city that had regarded Franklin D. Roosevelt as a lightweight as governor).

Because I was brought up to believe in Wilson's liberal ideals, I took very seriously the Nazi threat, and after the Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934) I was convinced that Hitler would have to be brought down by force. The failure of Britain and France to move against Germany when it reoccupied the Rhineland in March 1936 led me to leave college and join the army. (I expected that war would break out in 1938, and that America would soon join Britain and France.)

I mention these personal incidents of my youth because, in my late 70s, I still believe that liberalism is the best way to achieve justice in human society. That, of course, was the great question that Plato raised in The Republic, to which all subsequent political philosophical writings are merely footnotes.

We are the fortunate heirs of Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Bentham, Mill and others. The legacy of liberalism that they left us is our most precious possession. We defended it successfully in World War II and we tried to defend it but failed in Vietnam. It is important now, when there seems to be a failure of nerve in some quarters, that we defend it at home.

T.

S. Jones, Col., U.S. Army (retired), Clearwater

A recent letter writer asked what a liberal is. I read somewhere (author unknown) that "liberal intellectuals have an unimaginative, deep contempt for human beings which they display as friendly concern."

A. E. Favata, Holiday

The best definition of a liberal is as follows:

A person who hasn't had his car stolen.

A person who hasn't had his home broken into and vandalized.

A female who hasn't been raped.

A person who hasn't been mugged in a public place.

People who have gone through life and haven't experienced one or more of these events tend to be liberals.

Joseph M. Perry, Gulfport

"What's next?'

Re: Lesbians living life on their terms, Sept. 23.

Front-page news story? What's next? Furthermore, who cares? Really, enough is enough. The left-wing slant of your paper is getting a bit old. Yes, we all know your political agenda; your editors share it with us all too often. But please, keep to the real news, at least on your front page.

While being a homosexual, pro-abortion, formerly drug-addicted, animal-rights environmentalist is apparently in vogue today (to say nothing of being "politically correct"), being one does not necessarily make you right (in any definition of the term). Yes, it is indeed one's own choice, as it is mine to be a conservative Christian with beliefs based upon the word of God (His written word, not someone's politically correct interpretation). I have no problem with the freedom of one's individual rights; I do have a problem with the media's daily bombardment of liberal sensationalism as being normal and, furthermore, being applauded as morally and spiritually okay.

Simply put, while the liberals do not want to hear or read about conservative/Christian values, please understand that we, as a majority (yes, majority), get tired of reading about the liberal agenda daily in your newspaper _ especially when it is presented as a perfectly normal lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, editors, when you try to stand for everything, you end up standing for nothing (politically correct as well, I suppose). America's children need a rock to stand on, not quicksand.

I suppose that one's immediate response would be if you don't like it, don't read it. Yes, that is an option. However, as a retail advertiser who spends thousands of dollars each month in your newspaper, that would not be in my best interest either. I sincerely hope that your publication will at the very least become more moderate before it becomes even more liberal.

Thomas R. Mitchell, Clearwater

Incident in Oneonta

Your Sept. 26 editorial An atmosphere of racism described a recent incident in Oneonta, N.Y. You stated that an elderly woman reported that a young black male burglarized her home and assaulted her, accidentally stabbing himself in the process. Subsequently, you said a state university official gave the police the names of all black males on campus and they proceeded to interview about half of them about the crime. You concluded that students had been "rounded up" and stated that it is "intolerable when a public official precipitates racist encounters."

I lived in Oneonta for many years and still have friends and relatives in the area, some of them at the university. The facts you presented were essentially accurate, but you omitted one crucial detail. The state police dog squad followed the trail of blood to the campus, where a blood-stained towel was found in a dumpster. They asked for the names of black male students because the perpetrator was black and in all probability lived on that campus.

Some say the college official acted imprudently in giving names to the police. Others say he acted responsibly and a weak university president chose to sacrifice him to the mob. But one thing is indisputable: He was faced with a dilemma in which any action he took would be subject to criticism. I find it disappointing that journalists should cry racism where reason supports a less inflammatory interpretation.

Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, Dunedin

Electric bill worries

Re: Your electric bill is going up, Sept. 22.

This headline hit me like a punch in the stomach. Ten years ago, I could have accepted it and squeezed out the few extra dollars. Now, my three kids are teens and the cost of their "care and feeding" has, of course, grown with them.

During a period in the '80s when my income increased, we became owners of a washer, dryer and dishwasher _ luxuries we can apparently not afford any longer. I can't think of any other change in our power consumption, and still I remember electric bills of $60-$85 per month. They are now in the area of $130 (a week's pay for someone making minimum wage). Water bills used to average $30 a month; now they are upwards of $60. Also, during the '80s, I signed up for basic cable service as a "gift" to three teenagers, at a cost of $15 per month; it's now about $30 a month (no excuses on this one: cable TV is a luxury, I admit). Still, I wonder how many people in this country have been forced back into real poverty by the increases in utility costs. I make $16,000 a year for this family of four, so technically we are not "poor."

I remember washing clothes in the tub, and I remember using candles when my lights were cut off. Then, I was still a young, single mom with babies; it was to be expected. Now, I'm struggling to get them grown and gone before those days descend on me again. After 20 years of working, it seems that I'm back where I started. God help the $10,000-a-year folks who might as well be somewhere in the Third World. When you can't afford lights and water, what's the difference?

J. Smith, Gulfport

These are "leaders'?

Re: Three admirals out in wake of Tailhook, Sept. 25.

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! It's about time men like Rear Adm. Duvall M. Williams, Rear Adm. John Gordon and Rear Adm. George Washington Davis were booted out of their positions.

Imagine being in a war, fighting for your country, with leaders like that.

Jennie Barnes, Palm Harbor

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, FL. 33731, (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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