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We have to face the problem of population growth

Currently, our nation's debt is over $5-trillion and growing. I'm sure that many Americans feel that no matter what we now do with the budget (and it looks like nothing will be done for at least five or six years), that $5-trillion-plus will, sooner or later, overwhelm us and chaos will result.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: "If you don't learn from the past, you're sure to have a worse future."

Let's go back 40 or so years when we first started to operate each year with a federal deficit. After five or so years of increasing deficit and debt, wouldn't it have been smart if our leaders in Washington (both parties) had resolved: "We can't go on like this! Common sense says that year after year you can't spend more than you take in"?

But, they didn't. Nor have they learned from the past. Now there is an even more dangerous problem that has been growing over the last 20 or so years. That problem is the year-after-year increase in our total population. Since 1950, it has at least doubled to its current 270-million, give or take 10-million.

As it was with the federal debt, no one in Washington will face up to the problem. Conservatives make some half-hearted moves to control illegal immigration, but the liberals refuse to do even that.

A realist would say that both legal and illegal immigration must be stopped for an indefinite period.

Therefore, as a realist, I challenge President Clinton, Bob Dole and every member of Congress to specifically answer these three simple questions:

1. The population of the United States is currently about 270-million. Do you believe that a maximum should now be set by law?

2. If your answer is "no,' then do you support an unlimited total population?

3. If you favor a maximum, what do you believe that maximum should be: 300-million? 500-million? 1-billion (like China)?

Now, knowing politicians, I'd bet that most will say "yes" to a maximum, but that "it's too soon to set it _ later perhaps."

I would call their attention to the federal debt _ that's what they said 40 years ago. "If you don't learn from the past,"

Donald G. Peck, Spring Hill

When families get too large

Re: A vision of the family, letter, July 15.

I beg to disagree with the letter writer about "family values." (He thought it was so wonderful to see a Mexican couple in Guadalajara feed their large family ice cream cones, etc.)

I, too, have seen that, but I also have seen children _ from similarly large families, 10 years later _ risking their lives to "invade" their neighboring country. (I lived in California for five years.) They are taking jobs (even if they are low paying); those jobs rightfully belong to the young people who are born in the United States.

My idea of real "family values" are people who only have as many children as they can afford to educate, and stay, work and live in their own country.

L. Wilson, Pinellas Park

Better training for security personnel

On the same day that the senseless and cowardly bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta took place, I had an experience at Tampa International Airport that, although it may be considered inconsequential by many, disturbed me greatly. It only served to underline my personal feelings of frustration with the amateur level of security at airports, concerts, etc.

My daughter and I went to the airport this afternoon to pick up a friend of hers from Toronto. As we passed through the security checkpoint, my daughter placed her knapsack on the X-ray conveyor, I placed my car keys in the plastic basket next to the metal detector and handed my Sharp 8mm camcorder (with LCD viewing screen) to the uniformed security agent.

As I handed him the camera, he looked at me and said, "What is this?" I thought he was joking with me, so I grinned and said, "Pardon me?" He repeated the question, "Sir, what is this?" I was flabbergasted. No longer grinning, I looked him in the eyes and asked, "Excuse me? You don't know what this item is?" His answer: "No, sir _ I don't own anything like that." I replied, "This is a video camera." He replied, "Oh, I've never seen anything like thatOkay."

He then proceeded to let me pass. I stopped and said, "Wait a minute. Don't you want me to turn it on?" I then proceeded to turn the power on and showed him that it was, indeed, a working camera.

As I am watching the continuing news coverage of the tragic incident in Atlanta, my concerns and frustration regarding what I consider to be amateur, private-hire airport security have reached an all-time high! This security guard (an elderly, polite gentleman) _ who supposedly has been entrusted with at least part of the responsibility for keeping bombs, guns and explosive devices off our aircraft and out of our airports _ couldn't even identify a modern camcorder. As an airplane passenger and an airport visitor, how can I expect him to identify a disguised, yet lethal, instrument of destruction if he can't identify a simple video camera?

With all the talk and promises of increased security measures, let's take a first step and increase the level of awareness and training in the personnel who are already on duty.

Holger Enge, Largo

Tomalin has the right touch

I just wanted to express my enjoyment and appreciation of the Far Out articles sent from Atlanta by Terry Tomalin. We have all spent so much time grieving over the senseless bombing tragedy and so much time cheering and/or weeping with the marvelous athletes in the Games. It is such a pleasure to just indulge in a few moments of gratitude for the wonderful, everyday "moments" such as standing in line to order the greasy fast-food goodies at The Varsity.

Terry, keep up the good work and keep helping us enjoy the activities of nice, "normal" people like ourselves!

P. S. I am middle-aged, recently got a tattoo on my ankle and love it!

Elaine Coffin, South Pasadena

An idea for jail health care

Re: Jail doctor was paid not to call 911, July 26.

Alas, one of the criticisms of HMOs and managed care is that they sometimes place the interests of providers at odds with the interests of clients. Sometimes providers are encouraged to make money by cutting corners. (This doesn't seem to happen only at the jail.

Pinellas residents are fortunate to have a number of excellent health care providers available to them, as well as a number of well-run HMOs. Perhaps jail inmates would be better served if the sheriff were to contract with one or more of the local hospitals to run the jail's medical facilities, and one or more of the local HMOs to manage its finances.

P.

M. Reichold, Clearwater

Solving Egmont Key's problems

Re: Expansion of Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge.

Although some action is needed at Egmont Key, the current proposal wrongly accuses boaters of damaging the ecosystems and ignores the effects of Mother Nature. Last year's summer and winter storms inflicted tremendous damage to the west shoreline at Egmont.

The shoreline has migrated east at least 100 yards since the '60s, and this migration occurs at the expense of palm trees, shrubs, nests and habitat. I would estimate that about 50 feet of shoreline was lost last year to storms.

I attended the hearing about the refuge expansion and have a copy of the report. The report is full of innuendo with very few hard facts directly related to Egmont Key.

Something has to be done at Egmont, but what is to be done will be wrong if not done for the right reasons. A system of boardwalks, roped-off areas and out-of-bounds areas with some public toilets at one or two locations would really be better for public control.

Too bad we cannot ban the storms of Mother Nature.

Richard A. Kimbrough, St. Petersburg

Don't again divide Jerusalem

Re: End all terrorism and Jerusalem's future, letters, July 20.

Aside from the obvious bigotry expressed by one of these letter writers, it appears that neither remembers his history on Jerusalem. Originally, in 1947, the United Nations did recommend that Jerusalem be internationalized. The Jewish Agency was willing to accept this plan. However, the Arab states were as opposed to this plan as they were to the partition of Palestine into Israel and a Palestinian entity. Here was the opportunity for the Palestinian Arabs to have their own state and for Jerusalem and its holy sites to remain free from conflict. But instead, the Arab countries attacked Israel immediately after it was proclaimed a state. The Arab countries seized the land that was partitioned for the Palestinian Arabs, including East Jerusalem, and incorporated it into their own countries. In trying to destroy Israel, the Arab countries also destroyed the independent state for the Palestinian Arabs and made East Jerusalem inaccessible to a whole population that considered its sites holy.

Since the time that Jerusalem has been reunited, all people have been able to visit and pray in the sites that are holy to their religions. No one is denied access to these sites. Could this be guaranteed if the city were internationalized? Who would make the guarantee and would they have the power to enforce it?

Jerusalem should never again be divided. Divided cities do not work. Just look at what happened to Berlin.

Randy Crouse, Clearwater

Taking the wrong slant on N. Ireland

On reading your editorial (July 13), A missed opportunity for peace, I was greatly concerned by the bias of the article. From your article it would seem that British Prime Minister John Major is to be blamed for the renewed outbreaks of violence. He is blamed for not trying "more aggressive diplomacy" while the IRA was "abiding by a cease-fire." He is blamed because he "dug in his heels, refusing to meet for direct talks with . . . Sinn Fein" while the IRA made "a significant concession" in calling a cease-fire.

Your article completely ignores the fact that John Major and John Bruton, respective British and Irish heads of government, are dealing with an illegal terrorist organization. Some "gesture" of disarmament on behalf of the terrorists would seem to be a reasonable request before serious peace talks begin.

While I concede that the "Northern Ireland" issue is a complex one, as the policy of your paper is "merely to tell the truth," as a citizen of Northern Ireland I felt that the editorial implied praise for the IRA and abject criticism of the joint governmental attempts for peace.

J. Noble, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Share your opinions

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