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A wonderful reminder of the joy of giving

Re: Meyer Greenberg obituary, June 22.

What a place to find great reading _ the obits! As a freelance writer, I hate to see all the material taken from Associated Press, Knight Ridder, New York Times, etc. But this time I forgive you. The article on Mr. Greenberg was a wonderful description of a true hero.

For 30 years, every winter he walked Skid Row in the Bowery, passing out gloves to the homeless. His charge for the glovesa handshake. Many tears must have fallen with the news of his passing. But his heartwarming credo can live onthe saying his father instilled in him _ "Don't deprive yourself of the joy of giving."

Harry Lester, Largo

Teach values, not censorship

Re: Discordant Reactions, June 23.

Throughout the years, parents have fought to censor what their children read, see and hear. This seems like a resonable request, until people take it too far. In the article, the parents tried to censor a CD from, not only their own child, but everyone else's as well. I own the Offspring Smash album and understand that the lyrics can be offensive. I also know my parents would have let me buy the album if I was only 15.

I was brought up to know when certain words are acceptable, and when they are not. I feel that parents should explain this idea to their children, and not hide "offensive" words from them. Chances are high that the child or teenager already knows every word deemed "offensive."

I think that parents have every right to determine what their children are exposed to, but they must understand that kids grow up. Instead of sheltering kids, perhaps parents should try to instill values and knowledge, such as when certain words are not appropriate, in their children so that they become capable individuals. Are explicit song lyrics going to have a severe effect on a teenager who knows that "offensive" words are just that, words?

Jessica Odell, St. Petersburg

Setting guidelines

Re: Discordant reactions, June 23.

I agree that parents have the right and probably the need to monitor their minor children's music selections. However, Ann Mione's statement that "there has to be a limit to the First Amendment somewhere" is rather frightening. Once we start putting limits on the freedoms that we're granted in the Bill of Rights, where will it stop?

Also, I feel maybe Mione didn't realize that a large percent of Offspring's songs are satires on the problems young people deal with today. For example, Come Out And Play, a song on the CD mentioned in the article, deals with guns in the classroom, which is a topic that does need to be addressed. Wouldn't it be perceptive for the parents to use this as an opportunity to discuss the issue with their daughter?

The responsibility to give guidelines to children regarding music, entertainment and morals falls on the parents' shoulders, not the retailers or even the government.

Layla C. Byrd, Tampa

The duty of parents

Re: Discordant reactions, June 23.

As a child of the same age (15) as the one featured in this article, I feel it necessary to express my views on the high level of vulgarity in today's popular music and what parents should do if they find their child's music offensive.

Much of the popular music, whether it be "gangsta" rap or "alternative" rock, is littered with glorified violence, superfluous obscenities and gratuitous sex. Many songs, besides the fact that there is little or no talent involved in their production, I find personally offensive and morally reprehensible. If many parents heard this music, I am sure they would agree. It is a sad situation when parents do find offense in their child's music but do nothing in protest. It may not "corrupt" your children, but it will desensitize them. If you have not already noticed, the world we live in is very insensitive toward violence and sex.

We let children do what they please because they "are going to do it anyway." This is foolish and a serious problem in today's world. If parents do not challenge their child's actions, it is just the same as if they were to condone them. This may not be logical, but it is the way a child's mind works. Also, letting children have their way because they "will just listen to it somewhere else" is nonsense. They may go listen to their music elsewhere, but knowing that their parents stand firmly against such profanity will affect their conscience. Though many children will not admit it, what their parents say does matter to them.

Parents, it is your duty to express your values to your children. This does not mean forcing them to be like you, but letting them know what is right and wrong. Doing so requires both approval and dissent. Without both of these factors in your relationship with your child, your relationship is meaningless.

Charles W. Petro, Holiday

The reality of cuts

A June 21 letter to the editor (Medicare cuts aren't cuts) states that the "budget has been increased" regarding federal medical payments.

Fully knowing that these costs will rise 10 percent, the budget provides for something less.

Fully knowing that the real value of the dollar will drop during this period, no provision is made for this. More to the point, there is no effort being made to contain the cost to the public.

Budgeting less and allowing costs to spiral is a reduction _ a cut.

Robert J. Buragas, St. Petersburg

Wives, work and benefits

Re: End benefits for wives (letter, June 20) from the reader who vehemently complained about women who are drawing their spouse's Social Security benefits upon the spouse's death. I find the suggestion that we terminate the rights of widowed women appalling.

Let's not forget that although over 54 percent of productive-age women have entered the workforce in the last decade or two, most of these women are driven by the necessity of providing for themselves and/or their families. The majority of us have "dual" occupations (professional/domestic) because it is essential to our economic survival. Not necessarily because we wouldn't rather be working less and devoting more time/energy to "homemaking."

The overwhelming occupation for previous generations of married women has been that of homemaker. These women reached maturity in an era when women had limited choices and did not enjoy all of the options in life which are open to us today.

Why, then, would you seek to penalize our mothers/grandmothers/aunts in their late years because you do not feel that they have made a bona fide "career" contribution to society? If not for someone like them how do you think you would've gotten where you are today?

The idea of taking away the last vestige of security from women who devoted their lives quite literally to serving others, without pay (and evidently, in some people's eyes, without proper recognition), would be to rob them of the last vestige of dignity at a time in life when they should not have to qualify their existence.

Susan Hardey Michael, New Port Richey

I was thoroughly appalled when I read the letter (End benefits for wives, June 20) from one of your readers suggesting that wives who don't work should not be entitled to half of their husband's Social Security benefits when they reach 65 years of age. Perhaps she would also deny children, whose fathers have died, their benefits. After all, they didn't earn them.

With all of the lax supervision of children and the rise in crime committed by juveniles, I would think that she would be more appreciative of the women and men who are able to stay home and care for their children.

Punishing these people for not "earning" these benefits is not the answer. A better solution may be to treat Social Security as a welfare program. Those who need it get it. Those who don't don't. Actor Paul Newman respectfully declined his benefits.

Most people don't realize that all of the money they put into the Social Security system is paid back to them within a few years after retirement. People are living longer these days and there just isn't enough money to go around.

It is no mystery to me why no congressman or senator has acted on this reader's suggestion. She needs to come up with a better one.

Dawn Powell, Oldsmar

Re: End benefits for wives.

The writer should be appalled that drug addicts and criminals are getting so many costly benefits _ not that women who have been loyal citizens all their lives are getting Social Security benefits at age 65. Being a homemaker is still a most honorable and respectable vocation, and more difficult now than ever in America with people who have a mean-spirited resentment like this woman.

If the program were being managed properly, and American dollars were spent solely on American citizens, there wouldn't be so many problems. We have to stop rewarding the troublemakers and handing them everything on a silver platter. They are the real problem.

Mrs. D. Ross, Inverness

This is an answer to the June 20 letter, End benefits for wives, regarding wives receiving Social Security benefits.

I am the mother of 10 living children; I stayed home and took care of them, nursing them through all the sicknesses of childhood. Believe me, there was work included in these duties. However, that work paid off. Between my husband and myself, we raised the 10 children who became good, honest American citizens and are paying into Social Security now as much as they pay for income taxes. Also, the sons _ all six of them _ gave their services to the U.S. military, and all are enlisted men.

My children and some of their children pay into Social Security much, much more than I receive in benefits. But I feel that they are helping other wives to receive the benefits from Social Security.

Every case has to be judged according to its needs _ and other people's compassion.

Eliz. S. Kessler, St. Petersburg

Clinton's compromise

David Broder's June 18 article, Clinton budget plan is a big gamble, speculated about how President Clinton would fare, politically, with his proposed budget plan. He called it "a helluva gamble." I beg to differ. The proposal comes as a refreshing return to compassion and common sense after the cruel proposals in the GOP budget.

Broder thought voters might be upset by this lack of consistency on Clinton's part. I seriously doubt that. Every reasonable person in the country tries to balance his household budget as a matter of principle, honesty and responsibility. When people like me think of budgets, we don't think of some monstrous, bloated, dinosaur-type creature with God-knows-how-many zeros trailing after it. Instead we think of the things our money controls, of how to pay our bills and make ends meet.

Who but a CPA can fathom the federal deficit figures? Furthermore, we all know that figures lie and liars figure. Who on the political scene is to be believed? Only one thing is certain: The rich will escape pain as certain as night follows day; their incredible subsidies and tax loopholes will go on and on.

The question comes down to this: Do we trust the intent of Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton? In New Hampshire, Gingrich went from sweet to sour in 24 hours. Clinton waited a couple months, listened to the Republicans' talk of cutting school lunches and medical help for the elderly, and then came up with his own plan. Well, good for him! As Emerson so brilliantly said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"

I strongly viewed an amendment to our Constitution to balance the budget as both foolish and dangerous. We shouldn't tinker with this most valuable of our country's documents. But some congressmen said that an amendment to the Constitution would force them to stiffen their backbones. Ye Gods! Are these men in power made of Jell-O? I hope this isn't the view of our Florida statesmen.

Once again, the media are out to shoot the president. On that same day (June 18), an editorial accused Clinton of adding to "the Democrats' identity crisis." Really? Is that what the voters are supposed to worry about? I thought it was a given that a president is supposed to compromise, rethink his positions, change his mind when better ideas come forth, make and remake alliances. Every president has done this. It's exactly what politicians are supposed to do. The politician with a genuine and proven desire to work for all the people is the one who will ultimately win the confidence of the majority of Americans.

Eleanor Carlson, South Pasadena

About those comics

I've been thinking about the woman who suggested moving Doonesbury to the editorial page. I have no problem with that; I will find the cartoon, cut it out and mount it in my scrapbook.

But my concern is over her preference: Beetle Bailey. Personally, I consider Sarge pretty violent, not at all nice to Beetle, repeatedly leaving him in a broken heap on the barracks floor. Does she want her teenagers to emulate Sarge?

As for Wizard of Id, doesn't that have someone hanging in a dungeon in the fourth frame _ for a careless remark? That cartoon often makes political statements, and she should reconsider if she wants her teenagers to view these cruel punishments as humorous subjects.

Doris de Graff, Spring Hill

Read what you like

Re: Comic strips.

Doonesbury and Mother Goose and Grimm are two of my favorite comics. I happen to find Snuffy Smith incredibly stupid, so I just don't read it.

Your newspaper has a good selection of comics that should appeal to all tastes, and I enjoy most of them. I don't want to have to look through several sections to find my favorites. I suggest that people read what they enjoy and let the rest of us do the same.

Elizabeth Smith, Palm Harbor

Ready for "Doonesbury'

Re: Letters to the editor for evicting Doonesbury, June 22.

What's all this fuss about folks wanting the Doonesbury comic strip moved out of the comic section? Doonesbury is a creatively written, satirical comic strip, mirroring the harsh realities of today's fast-paced world. It's quite unlikely that a child old enough to read Doonesbury is going to learn anything that he or she didn't already know. Unfortunately, some children are living through similar situations as those portrayed in the comic strip.

So, get those heads out of the sand, folks, and let's hope that your home life is warm, loving and stable. With that, your children will be ready to face the world _ even Doonesbury.

JoAnn Frank, Clearwater

Philip Morris responds

Your recent editorial, The latest tobacco deceit (June 19), claims to find it "surprising" that Philip Morris U.S.A. conducted research concerning its own products. In fact, Philip Morris U.S.A. has stated on numerous occasions that it has conducted such studies, and their existence was reported as long ago as 1988 in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Newsday.

Most outrageous is the claim that Philip Morris conducted research on 14-year-olds. The study that is the basis of this distortion related to an entertainment movie titled Cold Turkey. As in the movie, all smokers in a small Iowa town quit smoking. Philip Morris distributed questionnaires to everyone in the town above the age of 14 _ smokers and non-smokers _ to learn about smoking and other activities. The study was not related to marketing at all, let alone to 14-year-olds, and no cigarettes or promotional materials were distributed.

Also misleading is the implication that public knowledge of the study is a recent "disclosure." The study was made public seven years ago in a product liability case, and published as early as 1973 in a book titled Smoking Behavior: Motives and Incentives, authored by a Philip Morris employee.

The Times creates a particularly misleading impression by not placing the tar and nicotine research within the context of the period in which it took place. These studies were conducted at a time when many researchers were suggesting ways to produce low-"tar" cigarettes that would have flavor and taste acceptable to consumers. A number of experts and organizations outside the tobacco industry _ including the National Cancer Institute _ had suggested that tobacco companies consider the possible development of cigarettes with altered "tar" and nicotine ratios.

But perhaps most misleading is omission of the critical fact that this research was never used in the company's manufacturing processes to alter, much less "manipulate," the natural ratio of "tar" to nicotine in the cigarettes the company sells.

Last year, in response to similar charges, Philip Morris U.S.A. voluntarily opened its manufacturing facilities to FDA inspection. The FDA inspectors found no evidence for charges that the company "spikes" its cigarettes with nicotine. Indeed, these charges are ludicrous to anyone who is familiar with the tobacco manufacturing process which, in all cases, results in lower levels of nicotine in the finished product than occur naturally in raw tobacco.

Clearly, the 60 plaintiff law firms that are hoping to win multimillion-dollar settlements by proving that their clients were "addicted" to tobacco products are going to be disappointed. Many of the documents referred to in the editorial were reviewed a number of years ago by juries in product liability lawsuits, and the fact remains _ the industry has never paid a single penny in damages or settlement of a product liability claim.

Finally, responsible editorial writing requires that you get the facts and not rely just on reports from the New York Times.

David Laufer, director, Public Affairs,

Philip Morris U.S.A., New York, N.Y.

Baseball's bad examples

Regarding baseball, can someone explain why Pete Rose, with so many years at bat, committed one error and was out for good, while Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, with so many fewer years at bat, continue to strike out all the time but are welcomed back into the game with open arms and high salaries?

If this is fair, then Pete Rose should be appointed commissioner of baseball. What an example for our children _ it's not okay to gamble and play baseball, but it's just fine to take drugs and play baseball. This is justice for all?

Wilma and Bill McDevitt, Holiday

Targets for budget cutters

We have at least three fat targets for cuts now that the Dole-Gingrich budget agreement has been made:

1. The defense portion _ especially the B-2 bombers that even the Air Force doesn't want.

2. Corporate welfare _ $25-billion escaped any cut.

3. Tax cuts _ as many as a dozen of the Senate's Republicans wanted no tax cut at all. The $500 credit for each child for families earning up to $200,000 yearly is outrageous.

Let's get these on the chopping block before there is any talk of cutting Medicare benefits or raising deductibles and premiums.

Patrick Rooney, South Pasadena

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