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Politicians should start questioning their priorities

I am beginning to wonder how long it is going to take this country to get over the selfish attitude that developed during the Reagan-Bush years. As you recall, we allowed the children, the poor, the elderly, the middle class and the environment to be neglected while the rich were stealing billions of dollars through the S&L frauds, price-fixing and inside-trading schemes. A selfish attitude seemed to develop in this country that "as long as I can get my riches, I don't care who gets hurt in the process."

And, of course, we stepped in immediately and sent our young men and young women into harm's way when an oil-rich country was threatened by a mad dictator and then, because the oil companies and the politicians had something to gain from this action, helped rebuild the luxurious living quarters of a leader who does not believe in freedom for his people.

Now in Bosnia we are unwilling to use even our superior air power to stop another power-mad dictator who is practicing genocide on a nation that wants to be free.

I realize as a nation we have nothing to gain from stopping the horror and death of these people except to help them live in peace as a free people. However, history has taught us that if we don't stop this type of dictator, this war can spread to other countries and put our military at even greater risk.

Of course, it was the right-wing Republicans and Democrats who helped to foster this selfish attitude through their policies because it was very helpful for their rich and powerful friends. Now we have a libertarian president who has the temerity to put forward plans to help the children, the poor, the unemployed, the environment and other freedom-loving people around the world. And, of course, now these same politicians are trying to stop the president because there's nothing in it for them or their rich friends. Their "tax-and-spend" arguments leave me cold because it was their borrow-and-spend and deregulation policies that turned this country into a $4-trillion debtor-nation.

The majority of Americans have always been a generous, freedom-loving people who have been willing to make sacrifices in order to help their fellow man, both at home and abroad. I think it is high time that the politicians in Washington, D.C., start questioning their personal priorities to determine if they are thinking of our American ideals or their own personal wealth, power and self-glorification. They wave the flag in their campaigns and tell us how much they love the American way of life and how they want to preserve family values and American traditions _ but once elected, somehow those ideals take a back seat to their own personal enrichment and glory.

Maybe they should set aside 24 hours of solitude every month to reflect on our American ideals and principles. Lest they forgetTheodore L. Hanscom, St. Petersburg

Some advice

Re: Babbit to Supreme Court.

Advice to President Clinton:

Judge Wapner for Supreme Court.

Harry Harper, Clearwater

The "free lunch scam'

Almost every week the news media discloses some scam in which some unsuspecting citizen has lost money. It is amazing, then, that since 1933 the majority of American voters has been voting for one of the greatest scams in the history of the world. In essence, that scam is that there really is such a thing as a free lunch, that poverty can be cured with the use of tax money, and that government can provide security for all of us.

In 1933 when that scam was introduced, the national debt was $22-billion. Today the national debt is over $4-trillion. How well has the program worked? A headline in the Times on May 29, stated: Food stamp totals set record again.

The only hope of stemming the profligacy of a liberal majority in Congress is to convince them that we can no longer afford their help. I say "we" because as a recipient of Social Security I see no need for automatic COLAs, nor any reason why it should not be held in check or reduced with every other liberal program now in place. Rather than additional taxes proposed by this administration, it is time to make meaningful cuts across the board. It is time that citizens put more dependence on themselves and less on government. The alternative is to continue riding the tide into inevitable national bankruptcy.

A. Edwin Shinholser, New Port Richey

Sustaining scientific advances

Re: MOSI part of "Destination Tampa," June 5.

I agree with Wit Ostrenko's assertion that Hillsborough County's Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) has every right to compete for its share of tourist development tax dollars. Let us not forget, however, the collateral benefits to be derived from any funding that is made available to MOSI.

This museum (like other such institutions) is part of the support system that sustains the advance of science by impelling today's student toward the real scientific achievements of tomorrow.

Tourist development tax dollars for MOSI should not be viewed in isolation. They are part of an intricate and subtle combination of resources that can help to focus interest on science education in this country. Failure to invest in science centers such as the MOSI would represent a missed opportunity to directly support a worthy enterprise.

Largely anecdotal points of inspiring new generations aside, the implications of alleviating scientific illiteracy in this country cannot be balanced within the terms of a single tax equation. Our common humanity requires that we divert resources to a support system that will help prepare us for the 21st century.

Paul R. Silveira, Tampa

Students to blame

Re: Standardized test scores on decline, June 7.

Who is to blame for declining test scores? The students who take the tests, of course! If the students would motivate themselves to learn in the classrooms, their test scores would go up. As I go from school to school in the county, I come in contact with middle school and high school students whose only motivation at school is to socialize with their friends. They are lazy _ too lazy to do their homework and too busy watching TV or "hanging out" after school and at night. We need to put the blame for low test scores where it belongs _ on the students. Students need to be held responsible for their own education.

Lillian Hunter, St. Petersburg

Justice delayed

Justice delayed is justice denied. The report June 6, Doctor accused of fatal misdiagnosis, describes the action taken in several cases by the Department of Professional Regulation (DPR). Finally, that is!

All except two of the eight cases arose from conduct of doctors in 1988. Several of them were subject to appeals by the individual or the Board of Medicine.

Five years is much too long for a case to reach a hearing by DPR, especially when the hearing can be appealed. A two-part series recently published by the Times regarding a sexual assault by a psychiatrist took seven years to reach finality.

DPR takes far too long to complete actions on complaints. The governor should immediately investigate DPR and take action to reduce the undue delay.

John F. deV. Patrick, Valrico

"Who does she think she is?'

Your June 9 editorial, The muzzling of Miss America, might better be called "Who does she think she is?"

You complain that this winner of a beauty contest has not been allowed complete access to the educational system to present her personal crusade against AIDS to a captive audience of children.

This is not "banning information about AIDS" any more than not allowing Woody Allen to speak on child-rearing would be banning information about parenting skills. Surely there are others more informed on either subject, as well as more sensitive to the concerns of parents who don't send their children to school to be propagandized by everyone with an agenda.

The way you reported her presentations was particularly interesting, noting that her "sanitized" presentation is given at nursing homes, her "less colorful" presentation to business crowds and, therefore, her most colorful and least sanitized show is reserved for the kids.

We're not talking about college campuses, where the selection of guest speakers seems to be based on how outrageous they can be.

In any case, she will have to change her tune. On the TV news last night, it was reported that "latex gloves," to use Miss America's less colorful term, are only 46 percent effective in preventing AIDS transmission.

William L. Weaver, Largo

General's comments praised

Re: General's comments on Clinton draw inquiry.

I read with intense interest the June 8 article pertaining to an Air Force major general's comments on President Clinton.

Having served in the Army for more than 36 years, I disagree with the final conclusion that Maj. Gen. Harold Campbell could be punished "as a court-martial may direct."

Nowhere in the Uniform Code of Military Justice does it state that an individual subject to the code cannot tell the truth.

The four cited character flaws/moral defects of the current president were documented during the election, but not pursued with "vigor" by the liberal media. The four defects of "pot smoking," "draft-dodging," "gay-loving" and "womanizing" were all but admitted to by the then-candidate. However, he did clarify one by stating that "he did not inhale."

If truth is not a Democratic virtue, then that's something else that I do not agree with them on.

Right on, Gen. Campbell! Tell it like it is!

Edward E. Schultz, Weeki Wachee

Floridians taken hostage

The monetary hostage-taking of thousands of Floridians by the likes of Allstate and other insurance companies, combined with the weak, ineffective and apathetic response of Florida's state government, is a classic example of democracy and capitalism working hand in hand in their not-so-finest hour. The infamous action or inaction of all parties could forever change all that Florida has always been noted for, "Retirement in the Sun."

Raymond W. Snow, Palm Harbor

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They must include the handwritten signature and address of the writer. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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