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Beware the "slippery slope of euthanasia'

Thank you for the thought-provoking Sept. 30 column by Nat Hentoff on the Slippery slope of euthanasia. Hentoff, a long-time defender of human rights, has correctly assessed the potential impact of California Proposition 161, the so-called "Death With Dignity Act." As he points out, involuntary euthanasia for senior citizens and infants, based on the sole judgment of the medical profession, will be the next step.

Hentoff wisely questions the motives of those advocating Proposition 161. Why will they not use the word "euthanasia," and why do they hide behind deceptive labels, such as "Death With Dignity" and "Californians Against Human Suffering"? Can it be, as Hentoff indicates, that the real issue is reducing the cost of health care for infants and senior citizens, not suffering?

Floridians should be aware of these scare tactics. The medical profession has made significant advances in controlling pain and suffering, and competent organizations, like Hospice, are available to help those with terminal diseases. Advanced directives, or "living wills," allow Floridians to avoid unwarranted medical treatment.

I sincerely hope that the people of California soundly defeat this life-threatening measure. But, if it passes, the people of Florida should be ready to defend themselves from a similar assault on their well-being.

W. R. Watts, Beverly Hills

Just another animal?

Re: 80-year-old gator "may be a wallet," Sept. 25.

There was no reason to kill that poor old alligator. It deserved to live out its life.

And there is no reason to keep old "macho" trappers around either, ready for the next "needless" kill.

Aren't we humans brave? After all, it's just another animal. We have already done irreparable damage to wildlife and environment.

S. Corey, St. Petersburg

Strangling the golden goose

Re: Bush says no to family leave legislation, pushes alternative, Sept. 23.

Here he goes again, our so-called "family values" president vetoing the family leave bill.

It would have given peace of mind to people needing time for their families (at no pay). The companies can hire temporary help to fill in and assure their full time help that they will have a job when they come back. How do you think employees will feel if they have the horrible thought that they may be out of a job when they come back? And Mr. Pro-Life Bush, perhaps some families will opt for abortion if they have to face such a dilemma.

Now we have the cable bill that he vetoed. I have written for years to the FCC on the constant increases and bad reception. Why is he always against helping the little people?

Why did he originally veto an extension on unemployment benefits for the little guy living in a depression _ which he was finally forced to overturn because of the heat turned on him?

Do you know why his trickle-down economics doesn't work? Because it trickles from the other end. CDs and interest rates are ridiculously low now. Grandparents used to help out children with money to buy homes, cars, etc., but they can't anymore because their decreased income is needed to cover higher rates for electricity, water, phone, cable, medical expenses and insurance. The golden goose is being strangled!

Remember, he rushed through salary increases for members of Congress (whom he now condemns) and upped his administration budget. How about getting no paid leave or medical expenses like the rest of us?

Everything he's done so far is against the family. So please contact your senators and representatives and insist they override Bush's vetoes.

And as far as the draft issue is concerned _ I'd rather have someone at the helm who would think twice before sending our youth to be killed than someone who's trigger happy and doesn't finish the job.

A. K. Wilton, Spring Hill

Why is George Bush constantly harping on Clinton's draft record? He should concentrate on helping people who are out of work, have no homes and are sleeping on the streets.

He should get with the issues _ the economy, the lack of health care for millions who are desperately in need.

When is he going to wake up? People require help now, not later. He should stop the character assassination.

These are difficult times and need serious concern.

John Chiljean, Lecanto

Who said you can't fool all of the people all of the time? The members of the Republican Party think they can.

First they "Reaganized" us for eight years; now they want to "Bushwhack" us for another four years.

Wake up, America, before they take it all away from all of us.

Carl P. Wagner, Clearwater

Presidents worth quoting

Re: George Bush quoting Harry Truman.

Why can't he quote presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Reagan and the good records they had as presidents?

Walter Cieslewicz, Hudson

Perpetuating the myth

In Rick Bragg's informative article Poison or poverty, Sept. 13, there is a portion of a sentence with which I take issue: "Many of its people are blue-collar, but on the East Side, there are poets and playwrights ," the implication being that there are no poets or writers among blue-collar workers.

Messages like this, whether intentional or not, perpetuate the myth that the working class is solely made up of the nonintellectual, incapable of creative thought. I'm sure Rick Bragg knows better than this but if not, I suggest he study some American history.

Anna Rangel Boone, Zephyrhills

Metric standard praised

I was disappointed in your Aug. 31 editorial, Speed limit 88, concerning the metric system.

How can anyone with an IQ above room temperature advocate the continued use of a measurement system that is such an obstacle for our business and industry, as well as the consumer?

As an engineer, I worked overseas for many years and found the metric system strange at first. However, since I was forced to comply, I learned to "think" metric. It wasn't easy at first, but I accomplished the task in a short time. It wasn't that hard.

My position required me to specify millions of dollars of equipment to be purchased from the world market. It made me very sad that the export industries in the United States could not be competitive with other nations. The reason: Each company had to make two products _ one for domestic use, and another for export to metric standards. They were forced to price themselves out of competition because of the lack of a metric standard here in the states.

The United States imports billions of dollars more in goods each month than it exports. This is a shameful situation for the richest country in the world. We must stop this trend and join the rest of the other nations of the world.

The wholehearted adoption of the metric system is a giant step in the right direction to help put our economy back on the right track. As long as we continue to buy imported goods, we must try to balance this dollar outflow with increased exports.

Let's hear it for the metric standard!

Thomas E. Miller, Clearwater

The unconscionable bed tax

The Times has long championed the rights of the minorities in Florida and the Tampa Bay area, yet remains strangely silent with regard to the obnoxious, unfair and unconscionable bed tax of $1.50 per day for patients in nursing homes.

This tax amounting to $547.50 per year on the aged, sick and infirm in the final stages of their lives, is just about the lowest and most despicable means to raise revenue that I have ever encountered and represents a new low now reached by our legislators and our governor.

It is indeed unfortunate that nursing home patients do not have a large lobby to influence these legislators as this method has worked very well for all special interests such as those who would have been affected by the ill-fated tax on services.

Since nursing home patients are a minority and have no one to represent them, we are asking the Times to bring this to the attention of the general public with an editorial listing the facts together with the names of those responsible for this ill-conceived law which should be revoked at once.

Ernest F. Durava, Clearwater

Nails and staples

Re: Cartoon by Don Wright, Sept. 15.

While I agree that the situation in South Florida is deplorable and possibly criminal in some cases, Wright's depiction is out of context and ignorantly wrong. Please note that the staples in question are at least two inches long, hopefully longer, and may in some cases be longer than the nails that might be used for the same installation. Maybe plywood clips between the plywood sheet edges were not installed or ]-inch plywood was used in lieu of {-inch plywood. FHA allows thinner plywood to be used in some cases.

I challenge anyone to prove that properly stapled plywood will pull lose any more often than the same plywood properly nailed. Please note that I stipulated properly attached. I have used and will continue to use coated staples, using proper attachment techniques, that will pass code requirements. Why do I make this statement? I will explain. In a recent application using nails on a repair job, the heads of some nails broke off the nail shank as they were being driven. Staples do not break, they will bend over on some occasions but this fact is visible and easily correctable. If the mechanic does not drive another nail adjacent to the popped nail, improper attachment will be the result. Yes, proper installation demands that you use more staples per plywood sheet, but this does not increase the cost of the installation as tremendous time is saved using mechanical equipment in lieu of hand nailing, and staples cost less than nails. My bet is that the least amount of staples were used to attach the plywood to the substrate members.

Therefore please acquire all of the facts prior to making the "proverbial leap" before printing, either in cartoon or written fashion, regardless of the so-called reports from the stricken area. Please note that I strongly recommend that prosecution be initiated where it can be proven that improper work was performed, but in the same breath prosecute the building officials who allowed it to occur by inadequately inspecting as the construction progressed.

Douglas Mitchell, Certified General Contractor

Pinellas Park

A nasty campaign

I'm 65 years old, been voting since Harry Truman, but finally, yesterday, I realized I just can't take any more of this mindless, nasty campaign.

Clinton, no.

Bush, no, no, no, no, no.

John R. Miller, St. Petersburg

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