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Elderly deserve our respect and protection

I was astonished, saddened and scared after reading the Oct. 20 article Aid isn't reaching the elderly, group told _ astonished to learn that up to 8-million elderly Americans go hungry and worry over how to pay for their next meal while our nation sends millions of dollars a year to feed the hungry in many other countries.

Every day there are elderly people starving in our neighborhoods. Research concludes that many are women _ women: the source of our lives, the life-givers, the nurturers, the peacekeepers and the caregivers _ the sustainers of life. And they are starving often because they are having to choose between medical care or food.

I'm saddened because we as a society are letting this happen. The majority of people think that poverty is a voluntary condition. It's not. Poverty is dreary, deadening and shameful, and the elderly are being routinely dismissed and destroyed.

And I'm scared _ scared because I know it's true. Elderly people are going hungry and getting sick because of the rise in the cost of housing, food, insurance and an inadequate health care system without the adequate adjustments in their Social Security payments. I know this is true because having a small produce business in the area, each day on my way home, I stop in Clearwater at the senior subsidized housing complexes to sell my fresh leftovers at reduced prices, and many times I'm asked to hold checks for $2 or $3 until their next Social Security check arrives. And I'm scared because, at 34 years old, all too soon I may be making those same life-threatening decisions.

Because they are deserving, the elderly need our respect and protection. They are our teachers, instructors, historians and, if only by having endured so long, the keepers of wisdom _ and they belong to all of us.

Dell Kelleher, Dunedin

World hunger

Re: To end hunger, letter to the editor, Oct. 18.

It seems to me that the vast majority of the world's citizens are fully aware of the problem of world hunger. The writer of this letter suggests that we can act to stop the hunger and violence by practicing family values and learning and using non-violent conflict resolutions.

This all sounds very nice, but maybe if the pope and the Catholic Church would discontinue the immoral practice of promoting the outrageous overproduction of human life, the rest of the world could begin to seriously address these problems.

Gene Beals, St. Petersburg

I haven't seen or read one thing from the Catholic Church (or Rome) about the conditions in Haiti. What I see is "wall-to-wall" people clamoring for their "Father" (Aristide) like little children expecting Christmas.

Is this apparent overpopulation the direct result of the "rhythm method" of birth control that the pope is so fond of? I think it's high time that the Catholic Church in Rome supports the results of its rhythm method. How many more mouths to feed will that country have in 10 years? In 20 years?

When will it ever end?

G. Wilson, Largo

"Anti-government frenzy'

Anti-government frenzy has gone too far!

On the eve of this Election Day '94, it's apparent that the ongoing anti-government, anti-incumbency frenzy has reached alarming proportions, leaving in its wake a citizenry encased in a time warp of negativism and anger _ a condition aided and abetted by a media whose penchant for promoting cynicism has raised concerns even within its own peerage (Times Perspective, Oct. 16).

Not since the torturous Vietnam era has so much disenchantment existed in America _ a mind set that presages a dark period for this country's ending decade. Unlike Vietnam where the issues were taken to the streets, we now prefer to be pliantly lectured by the press, the political demagogues and special interests forces _ each with the purpose of convincing us that our governance is a burdensome and nonperforming democracy, an enemy to be pressured into abdicating its many mandates, a distorted assumption that less government is good _ as if that would solve all our domestic and worldly problems!

Most susceptible to this strident cynicism are the more affluent and a self-pitying segment of the middle class _ each seeking to be freed from paying the price to sustain the world's freest and most compassionate democracy, a nation the envy of emigres who would risk their lives in order to become a part of what we take for granted. Yet we grumble at the imperfections inherent in a free society, unappreciative of the gifts it bestows upon us, with a reluctance to accept part of the blame for creating the problems government alone cannot solve.

Clearly, this intolerance goes far beyond the goal of trying to make government more responsive; rather the modus operandi contains sordid tactics to destroy public personalities plus a total lack of civility toward those with whom we disagree. But the unforgiveable sin of demonstrating hatred against those we have chosen to lead us is the most reprehensible part of all.

Mid-term Election Day '94 will be remembered for all of that _ let alone the danger of inheriting a political climate far less tolerable than what we hope to shed.

Edward G. Di Panni, Largo

Spectacle of a lifetime

Thank God I don't live in California.

I have never seen such a spectacle in my lifetime as the alleged trial of O. J. Simpson. O. J. cannot get a fair trial in California. Judge Lance Ito reminds me of Nero as he pontificates and rules, always in favor of the prosecution. Marcia Clark, the prosecutor, looks like Lucretia Borgia as she pleads her case. California has always been notorious for stupidity, but this is the worst I have seen. The media are not helping either. Why doesn't Judge Ito just rent the Los Angeles Coliseum and some hungry lions and tigers, and let O. J. loose for them to devour?

O. J. has money-grabbers for lawyers and I understand they have depleted his funds already. What a farce!

No wonder people are leaving California in droves. I will never visit California again, even though I have friends and relatives there. The district attorney of Los Angeles County is a disgrace, too, as is the Los Angeles chief of police. Watching this farce makes me thankful I live in Florida.

Richard C. De Koker, Tampa

Good news for MS sufferers

Re: Experimental drugs show promise in MS, Oct. 11.

The Times is usually accurate and up-to-the-minute in printing the latest research and breakthroughs relating to health issues, and I commend you. However, to state that people with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) become progressively disabled is inaccurate and misleading. This would be very distressing for a newly diagnosed patient to read, not yet fully understanding what the disease is. Therefore, I have listed the four types of MS and the percentage of individuals affected. As you will see, relapsing MS is not always progressively disabling.

Benign: Few exacerbations, no permanent disability _ about 20%.

Relapsing/Remitting: Partial or total remissions _ 20 percent to 30 percent.

Remitting/Progressive: Remissions initially, progressive disability later in course of disease _ 40 percent.

Progressive: Slow onset of symptoms and disability. Progressive deficits and disability _ 10 percent to 20 percent.

Nine out of 10 have protected intervals with few or no symptoms.

One out of three have few or no symptoms for years after onset.

Three out of four are active and independent years after the diagnosis.

Please understand, my intent is not to criticize _ as I know you are not staffed with medical doctors _ but to better educate the editors to be more careful when referring to MS as a progressively disabling disease. Every case is different and the course unknown.

Terry Friedbacher, Clearwater

An unpleasant afternoon

Re: Censorship vs. the right to know.

The other day, three of us went to a highly touted movie (both by your newspaper and TV ads) called Pulp Fiction. It was critically acclaimed to be one of the best movies to come along in years.

Instead of an afternoon of enjoyment, we were subjected to an afternoon of filth, perversion and extreme violence. There are absolutely no redeeming features to this movie unless its purpose was to make a contribution to crime and violence.

What has happened to this country when the media (TV, radio, movies and newspapers) will do whatever they deem necessary to make a buck? They may protest and hide behind the First Amendment, but it should be obvious to everyone that almost all facets of the media are willing to sell their souls for the almighty dollar. The damage done by trash such as Pulp Fiction has got to be stopped.

I don't believe in censorship, but I believe in decency and moral standards. There was a time when radio stations would not tolerate a "Howard Stern." TV would not broadcast nudity and foul language. Newspapers and magazines would not print filth. Look around you and ask yourself this question: Are we better off today than when we had the Hayes Committee?

I don't believe in boycotting products or institutions _ although it is an alternative that should be considered if this smut cannot be controlled in any other way. I believe that the teaching of morals begins in the home, but the home needs help. I think the clergy and other civic leaders should become more visibly vociferous and make a meaningful stand against such trash. I believe that whatever is necessary should be done to stop this erosion of morals. When you have an industry (media) which is unwilling to correct itself, then someone or something must step forward.

There is no utopian answer; however, a standard of decency must be established and adhered to by the media. If this is not done, the moral decay of this country will continue to the point of no return.

Ronald Lybeck, Largo

Do it right this time

The latest machinations of Saddam Hussein tend to bring out the truth of a past major mistake. Desert Storm veterans sent back to Kuwait echoed the resolve to do it right this time.

President Bush and his advisers stopped the war a few days to a week too early. His contention that he did not want our troops hunting for Saddam in Baghdad is ridiculous. A few more days would have allowed our forces to decimate the revolutionary guard, thus precluding the present problem. This failure also has cost us hundreds of millions of dollars and again placed our forces in harm's way.

Remember World War II? What is wrong with winning a war for a change?

Sidney C. Grahn, Seminole

Who is next on our payroll, Saddam Hussein or Fidel Castro? It's amazing how the government can find the money for "solving" foreign problems but can't find it to help Americans.

Mrs. R. G. Harrison, New Port Richey

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