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Society's differences more visible than ever

The differences between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in our society are more visible than ever. While making a trip through Ocala recently, I noticed for the first time the row of run-down shacks running parallel with Route 41, just off I-75.

I make this trip often, but never noticed the area before (perhaps I noticed it but it never registered before). As I say, the visibility is increasing _ increasing perhaps because of the increase in this type of area around us. Areas such as this exist in every town and city in our nation. St. Petersburg and surrounding suburbs certainly have a share of them.

I wonder how families forced to live under such conditions survive _ the children running in the streets, surrounded by the squalor they have to endure. Children that are subjected to this lifestyle must suffer psychological damage that will never be cured. How can they envision a future with hope while living in such terrible conditions? How can parents explain a situation like this to their children? What is the future for our nation?

Children need to grow in a land that provides at least the basics of survival _ food, clothing and a decent place to live, education that is readily available to all and health care that is equal to the poor as well as the rich.

It is amazing that a revolution has not begun. These people must see the tremendous differences in standards in society. How they live there without blowing up and revolting is beyond belief.

Perhaps they are lacking a leader. I think of the revolutions in the past _ all it took was someone to lead. I feel in our future a leader will emerge who will motivate these people, and the start of a tremendous war will take place within our own nation. A war like this would be a war of desperation, and desperate people take desperate actions.

It is time for change. I hear the comments: "Let them go to work like I do if they want a different lifestyle," or "They don't want to work; welfare is what they like." How untrue! To get a job, there must be jobs, and there must be the basics available so they can look for work _ decent clothing, an address, child care, transportation, etc. I don't think anyone wants to live on handouts. Handouts do not provide even the barest necessities. The economic situation today is taking the pride out of our people.

It is time for Bill Clinton and our congressional leaders to start looking at the blighted areas of our own nation before they continue to give vast amounts of foreign aid elsewhere.

It is time for all Americans, regardless of race, creed or ethnic background, to take a good, hard look around. Time to see the tremendous hardships of our fellow man _ here in our own country. These people are Americans, entitled to basic freedoms and a decent quality of life.

I realize there is no utopia, no nation that can be all things to all people. However, let's dispense with foreign aid and take care of our own first.

E. LeBlanc, Pinellas Park

Try legalization

At last! Someone who publicly agrees with my position on legalizing drugs (Is it time to legalize drugs? May 30, Perspective).

It is time! The drug trade perpetuates itself through the exorbitant profits that only exist because drugs are illegal. Why would anyone stand outside a school yard trying to hook a kid on drugs if huge profits were not involved? What incentive is there for children from the ghetto to continue their education to get a $15,000-a-year job when they graduate some four to five years from now? They can become pushers, earn $15,000 a week, drive fancy cars, wear fancy clothes, live in plush homes, get fancy women. Keeping their peers hooked is the only way to assure they can continue this lifestyle.

My only disagreement with the article is the statement that "the fact remains that any legal regime that lowers the economic incentive for drug crime will surely boost drug consumption." I believe current users will use more drugs once they are affordable, but I also believe that removing the economic incentive to get more people hooked will eventually result in a decrease in consumption.

This issue is not something that can be answered by opinion polls. Who cares what your or my opinion is? The answer will only be known if we try legalization. My vote is to try it now.

Victor Guadagno, Oldsmar

Time for a break

The onslaughts directed to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton bring back sharp memories of the bashing President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt received from all sides. But FDR kept getting re-elected, and FDR and Eleanor are now very positively, and for all time, written up in the history books for generations of youths to study.

Isn't it about time Bill and Hillary Clinton get a break from all this? I like the graciousness, kindness and intelligence of the Clintons. Who knows how the history books will portray Hillary and our president? It may well turn out to be in the fashion of FDR and Eleanor.

Francis Joseph Bassett, Bradenton

Poor taste, bad judgment

Re: Letter to the editor, June 14, General's comments praised.

I am the wife of a career Army officer and, while on active duty, it was always understood that the "Code of Conduct" prohibited the public criticism of a superior officer. It would be extremely difficult to maintain the necessary discipline and to effectively control the armed services if that were not so.

President Clinton is the commander in chief whether Gen. Harold Campbell likes it or not, and I believe that his public derogatory comments were in very poor taste and lacked good judgment. I very much doubt that such conduct would be tolerated in the private sector either.

Virginia E. Stewart, Largo

"Symbol of action'

Re: Perot doesn't have the resume of a good president, by Norman Ornstein, June 7.

People who keep harping on whether Perot is qualified to be president of this country have missed the boat entirely. He doesn't want the &+%! job and we (Perot people) don't want him to be hogtied with the &+%! job. But, if Clinton and his people can't get it done and the Republicans can't come up with a viable plan, we'll draft Perot faster than ants dance on a hot griddle.

I think the writer of the column didn't bother to watch the last part of David Frost's interview in which Perot revealed his compassion for humanity and spoke from his heart about ethics in business and eliminating the greed disease; about peace and love and family values; and about how important spirituality is, not only at the individual level, but for society as a whole. This is not a person who gives orders and expects people to follow them. On the contrary, he throws out a gauntlet and motivates people to use their own initiative and creativity to accomplish their goals.

The truth is that if this country expects to be a leader into the next century, the government needs to be internally restructured, not merely patched up or reformed _ and that doesn't mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. It's become basically irrelevant whether we have a Democrat or a Republican or a whatever in the White House. This isn't about politics _ it's about people working together to build a better world for everybody. Business as usual, in government and business, is no longer acceptable or tolerable to a very large number of American people who recognize that the system must change or we risk becoming a second-rate player in world affairs.

Ross Perot is our symbol for action and our agent of change. If those head-Bozos in Washington don't listen to us now, they'll drown in the shouts of "Ross for Boss in '96." We'll be picking up our marbles and going to Washington.

Just do it, so we can all _ including Ross _ get on with our lives!

Diane Goble, Palm Harbor

Re: Perot's NAFTA-bashing brings sharp White House response, June 10, by Jack Payton.

Rather than spending time discussing who authored NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) or quoting a Los Angeles lawyer hired by the Clinton administration to endorse it as sound, we must think logically about this agreement.

Simply go to any receiving room for any major retailer and see where the durable goods are coming from. Everything from hand tools to textiles to Christmas ornaments is imported for sale and use here. What is still produced in the United States comes from die-hard industries that must face ever-increasing costs of doing business via taxes, health care and litigation. Whole sections of this country have had industries gradually fold under the pressure. Many areas have never had production and with NAFTA never will. Lack of industry and idled workers generate no tax revenues and an economy that does not perpetuate itself with the multiplier effect of moving money.

In a corporate America that calls for the bottom line first, answer questions later, importing products makes good fiscal sense. With the introduction of NAFTA, it will also make it fashionable at the expense of what is left of our industries. In this regard, Ross Perot's opposition on NAFTA is correct and the hired Los Angeles lawyer's position flawed.

Charles V. Platania, Pinellas Park

Re: Perot will run again, expert says, June 16.

I had to comment on David Dahl's article on Ed Rollins' assessment of what H. Ross Perot will do in 1996. I agree that chances are very good he will run again.

The Perot candidacy created a place for people to go who were disenchanted with Clinton and Bush. Winning an American presidential election, however, as a third party or independent candidate is nearly impossible. Even all the enthusiasm for Perot in 1992 only resulted in 19 percent of the popular vote and no electoral votes.

I suggest that Perot go back to running his businesses rather than muddling another presidential election.

Barry Sleesman, Spring Hill

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