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Eliminate the incentives for political bribery

Re: Get "interested" money out of politics, July 11.

Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey states that we must get the money out of politics. He has proposed an amendment to the Constitution, which would limit campaign spending. The senator is to be commended for his action.

But will limiting campaign funding do the job? I believe not. Money will then pass under the table to our congressmen in exchange for special favors to the special interests.

I believe that the way to eliminate bribery of government officials is to remove the incentive for such bribery. Which means to take away the control government has over so many phases of our society. Eliminate farm subsidies _ that will eliminate the "campaign contributions" from the farm groups. Get the government out of the health care business _ that will eliminate the bribery from the AMA. Stop the subsidies of tobacco growers. In short, get back to a free enterprise system. Get the government out of everything except maintenance of law and order.

But as long as the government has money to give to special interests and as long as man remains avaricious, there will be bribery. A law against bribery, be it in the form of campaign contributions or vacations to Hawaii, will not stop bribery. The law will only drive the bribery underground. The only way to stop bribery is to kill the incentive for it.

R. O. Whitaker, Apollo Beach

Get politicians to clean up their act

I am fed up with what big money is doing to our political system. It looks like Congress will once again fail to enact tough campaign reform, and the 1996 elections will be the most expensive ever. They'll be financed by out-of-state special interests in return for political favors down the road.

This year, we should ask all politicians to pledge in writing to clean up their act. Citizens from across the country and spanning the political spectrum are banding together in a campaign called Americans Against Political Corruption. We're asking candidates to commit to passing the following reforms no later than the first 100 days of the next Congress:

1. Make politicians raise money from the people they represent. No more than 25 percent of a candidate's funds should come from outside the district.

2. Limit campaign spending with a constitutional amendment. This would reduce the influence of special interests and allow politicians to spend more time serving the public and less time raising money to run lengthy, negative campaigns.

3. Limit campaign contributions to $100, a level ordinary citizens can afford.

4. Give voters better information through providing candidates with free time on TV and radio and free mailings.

5. Give voters more choices on election day by establishing a national initiative petition process and eliminating barriers to third-party candidates on the ballot.

These reforms are critical to restoring democracy in America.

Jason Boswell, Americans Against Political

Corruption, Tallahassee

The plight of the workers

A good friend of mine who works in sales was recognized and awarded by her employer for generating one million dollars' worth of sales. Recently, she became ill with bronchitis. She was not extended health/medical insurance through her very prosperous company and was not paid enough to purchase her own insurance. She had to continue working while sick to pay for doctor visits and treatment. Because of her condition, her production slumped. She was fired.

Stories similar to this one could be repeated by growing millions of "contingent" workers. Additional millions are being downsized or left on a doorstep when their jobs are moved south of the border, so that corporations can superexploit other workers while wrecking the environment and pillaging the resources of their respective countries.

And, of course, there are the growing tens of millions of workers "lucky" enough to keep part-time and subpoverty wage jobs, while many of the corporations that pay with peanuts are reveling in all-time profit bonanzas.

Who is really free in this society _ those who must work for a paycheck or the owners, chief executives and major stockholders for whom they work? Which group or class is best equipped to seize opportunities, fulfill their personal potential, attain their goals and enjoy the widest range of options? Which has the greatest political power and influence?

The "unofficial," all-pervasive propaganda treats personal and political freedom as if it were a spiritual entity, suspended in mid-air and bestowing itself on each of us equally. The reality is that the degree of everyone's freedoms, rights and personal security is directly dependent upon whether they are a worker or a member of the owning class.

The interests of each class are diametrically opposed _ you seek a good living, comfort and security; they, on the other hand, seek to maximize their profits at your expense.

It is this irreconcilable opposition which explains why the stock market leaps up when the announcement is made that thousands more workers have been downsized: Technology is enabling owners to cut more and more "expenses" (workers) while simultaneously increasing production.

There is only one solution to this dilemma: for those who work to come into ownership of their jobs and the social wealth their jobs produce. Worker control of the means of production, distribution, the major utilities, resources and energy is not a panacea or pipe dream; it is a necessity. Socialism will no longer be merely an ideal when enough people have come to equate it with their survival.

Eric Ray, Tampa

Appreciate our prosperity

In a recent trip across the country to find my roots, I found people everywhere were prosperous. The highways were jammed with new luxury cars; there were huge motor homes, big power boats, and big trucks rushing products to people all over the country. The motels were jammed, and shopping centers were crowded with shoppers.

People had luxury homes, big swimming pools, fine clothes, elegant jewelry and the best of everything. They were lined up at expensive restaurants, and the fancy resorts were bustling with activity.

Why would we want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Why do people think the sky is falling because they can't get the high-paying jobs they had in the '80s? They are saying the sky is falling when the unemployment rate is at a six-year low. It is ridiculous to moan about downsizing when in reality we are enjoying the greatest prosperity any country ever enjoyed in this world. We are so lucky to be Americans in a country that is free, democratic, peace-loving and prosperous.

It is nonsense to say things are bad when we are living better than the kings of old. We should count our blessings instead of complaining. We are the luckiest generation living in the greatest country on the face of this earth.

Changing administrations will not change the fact that durable goods, such as automobiles, steel, ships, airplanes, electronics, television sets, power equipment, clothing, shoes and other products, are now made in the Far East where labor costs are low. Americans can never compete with workers who toil for pennies. The answer to unfair competition is not to trash Clinton. Until this nation restores its superior know-how and produces superior products, it will not regain its position in the world. In America we need to expand into the 20th century with more education, more invention and to explore the universe with science.

Norman J. Williams, Crystal Beach

A penny for posterity

Recently I had an idea to curb the rising national debt: Institute a 1-cent national sales tax, excluding medicine and food, that would be earmarked specifically for the retirement of the $6-trillion debt. There should be severe penalties for those who may abuse the direction of these funds.

The citizens of Pinellas County are again being coerced into a 1-cent sales tax, called the Penny for Pinellas Tax. Several governments are supporting the tax, which would continue for another 10 years, even without a vote from the people who are going to pay for it.

I would like to challenge our federal, state and local governing bodies, as well as our community leaders, to stand up and do the right thing for our children and grandchildren. If we do not eliminate our national debt, they will not have a stable financial future.

I beseech our leaders to enact legislation that will provide a solvent financial picture for ourselves and our posterity. Our citizens deserve a bi-partisan approach to reaching a prompt and direct solution to this problem.

We need to set our priorities, and it should not be a Penny for Pinellas, but rather a Penny For Our Children and Grandchildren's Future by eliminating this cancerous debt that threatens to consume them.

Steve Lelekis, Tarpon Springs

The cause that didn't rate

The July 12 article (A son, his mother, their song) by Paul Wilborn caught my eye. It is very interesting the way the "media" select a "most important cause," and then play all their "cards" for the purpose of enlisting "converts" to their aforementioned cause!

How about a song for "The Child That Was Aborted"? The words might be, "God gave me to you, Mom _ but you did not want me! Why is it you had to rid yourself of me?"

But, no; the media select the word "rights" and say, "Abortion is a private, closed book! It is not to be used as a cause."

Clever. But so sad to close our eyes to babies we call "things." Such a totally violent, immoral act!

The homosexual is alive, so he's a good cause! The baby is a "thing in the womb," but definitely not a baby! Is the baby trash? Then we are all trash!

Ralph A. Packard Jr., St. Petersburg

Beach concert issues

I'd like to address the Pass-a-Grille Beach concert controversy, which is far from over. There will be a town hall meeting to discuss this issue Wednesday evening.

There are three issues which I am concerned with. First, fireworks were lit on a very windy night. They could have ignited any of the beautiful wooden homes in the vicinity. People reported having to stand in their yards extinguishing sparks which were blown into the area. Second, if anyone had a heart attack or other medical emergency, an ambulance could neither get in nor out with the terrific jam and crowd of over 8,000. Thirdly, we should be supporting people within our own community. The Spin Doctors, while being a "name" group, in my opinion, were no better than local groups I've heard.

My suggestions: Get a local group; keep the crowd to 3,000 or less; have greater control over fireworks; keep this a community effort _ not a concert run by one person; and vote on all issues in a democratic way.

Carolyn Travis Laskey, St. Pete Beach

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