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Don't be misled by banks' attack on credit unions

In the April 28 Times there was a political advertisement paid for by the Florida Bankers Association, Community Bankers of Florida and the American Bankers Association. It asked the question, "Why should this hard-working family pay more in income taxes than all credit unions combined?" was asked.

The answer is: for the same reason this hard-working family pays more in income taxes than all of the churches combined: They are all non-profit organizations.

Now, a question for the above-mentioned banking organizations that represent the for profit banks: Why should this hard-working family pay outrageous fees, service charges, and above-market interest rates on credit cards and loans to provide the for profit banks with record breaking profits and their officers with free stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars, free health care, free use of corporate jets, and multimillion dollar retirement packages?

Why should this hard-working family be denied the right to stretch its hard-earned dollars as far as possible by joining a credit union that offers free or low-cost services and low interest loans? Why are the huge for profit banks afraid of the little credit unions?

If the banks wish to stop paying income taxes, they only need to take the following two simple steps:

1. Stop paying their boards of directors.

2. Return their profits to their customers rather than to the bank officers and shareholders.

Of course, this would make them credit unions and not banks and they wouldn't like that.

Robert Ainsley, Clearwater

Banks' ad backfired

I am amazed at how gullible the big banks think we are with their full-page ad blasting the credit unions. Their goal is to put credit unions out of business so we would have no option but to deal with arrogant, expensive megabanks. The ad did spur me to action, however. And I called our senators to voice my support for user-friendly, full-service, people-oriented credit unions.

The ad was a public relations boner big time after the recent bank mergers and the dandy news that 46 banks in Florida are closing, leaving who-knows-how-many unfortunate people without jobs.

Virginia Smith, New Port Richey

Parents are the key to teen smoking

Re: Teen smoking.

I wonder why the government hasn't yet figured out an effective way to curb teenage smoking. The answer is the parents. They are the ones who teach us about life and how to live. Remember the old commercial that said, "parents who do drugs, have kids that do drugs" or "I learned from watching you, Dad."

Both of my parents were heavy smokers. I smoke. I've been smoking since I was 13. (I am 21.) Yes, I am addicted to smoking. I remember as a curious child, how neat it was watching people blow smoke from their mouth (just like the dragons in the cartoons). I also remember buying candy cigarettes and cigars. Last time I checked, you could also buy tobacco products at your area hospital: It's a boy!

I still believe that parents hold the key. If my parents had been non-smokers while I was growing up, I probably wouldn't be a smoker today. They don't smoke now. My dad had a heart attack at age 45. He has had angioplasty, a triple-bypass, and open heart surgery. He had no choice, quit or die. He is alive, and mom just quit recently. I'm next in line. Maybe some of that Big Tobacco money should go for lowering the price of nicotine patches, gum, etc. It costs more for a week's supply of those products than it does to smoke (money-wise).

Heather Potter, Spring Hill

Those costly Florida attractions

Sorry, Mickey and Shamu, but our family will not be visiting you.

I think it's a shame what Disney World and the other so-called "family attractions" in Orlando are charging. We are a family of six, and no way can we afford to spend $300 for a day at Disney (and that does not even include their food). The only way my family ever gets to go is one at a time, either with their friends or with out-of-town company. We can never go together as a family.

Florida, wake up and see the sunshine. If you want us to spend our vacation in your state, why not give residents a large discount? Otherwise, we will continue to drive out of state and spend valuable time and money together, enjoying free attractions around other parts of the country together.

Arlene O'Leary, New Port Richey

Dam questions weren't answered

Re: Letting a river run free, April 12.

Having read this article by Jeff Klinkenberg and Julie Hauserman, I still do not understand the push to remove the Rodman Dam. Nowhere in the article was there an explanation why the dam had to go other than to just get rid of it.

The only thing that the article stated was that it blocked the migration of shad. Maybe I am wrong but it is my understanding that shad is considered a trash fish. If it is important that shad go all the way up stream, could not a fish ladder be constructed to allow the fish to go around the dam?

I would have thought that the article would have given a summary of the arguments to remove the dam and a summary as to the arguments not to remove the dam. The fact that the dam is a good bass-fishing lake is not a reason to remove it!

I worked previously for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and felt that the corps studies on the values of recreational use were helpful in deciding to build reservoirs or not to build them. Perhaps the same test should be used to determine if the dam should be maintained or removed. I wonder how much recreational use the dam gets as compared to the use the river will get without the dam.

Why does the dam have to go? Why does the river have to run free? The article does not answer these questions.

Robert E. Stano, St. Petersburg

Teflon cartoon is a new low

Re: Don Addis' April 30 cartoon.

I am writing to condemn Addis for his ruthless attack on President Ronald Reagan and the proposal to put his name on the Florida Turnpike.

The idea of a truck spreading Teflon on the surface sinks to a new low even for Addis

If ever we had a president who is covered with Teflon it is Bill Clinton of the Whitewater-gate, Travel-gate, File-gate, Sex-gate, ad nauseam. This current president's poll numbers go up with every new scandal that is uncovered. Clinton is an embarrassment to the office he holds, and yet Don Addis seeks to defile and denigrate the memory of Ronald Reagan, a great American patriot and president.

Shame on you!

Sam Lasley, Clearwater

Partisan proof

The lengthy editorial, Time to stand together, (April 21) proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Times is counselor, promoter, advocate, supporter and cheerleader for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.

Is it ethical for the Times to use its enormous opinionmaking power in this manner without a public admittance of such?

Jack Vanderbleek, St. Petersburg

Taking issue with Randi

Re: The "Quack" hunter, April 14.

"The Amazing Randi" called homeopathy and acupuncture quackery. He probably owns stock in the drug companies. Both methods of healing have proven themselves over and over again, bringing relief when drugs proved to be worthless and dangerous.

Randi even attacked Deepak Chopra, Bernie Siegel and Andrew Weil. These wonderful souls have helped tens of thousands of people to have happier lives.

I believe Albert Einstein was referring to people like Randi when he stated, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

Bruce Frame, Tarpon Springs

The article on James Randi's views on the art of illusion was most interesting _ and I agree with a great deal of what he said. People would do well to develop their critical thinking capabilities and learn to be more skeptical. However, there is a world of difference between magic, out-and-out fraud and body/mind/spirit healing.

Would Randi refute the works of Jesus? (Yes, maybe he would.) Or the double-blind study in which people prayed for a group of men with severe heart conditions? How about the thousands _ probably millions _ of people who claimed they were healed by acupuncture, homeopathy, laying on of hands (including the nurses who are doing this with almost miraculous results), prayer and meditation?

Studies have proved that our state of mind is a powerful force for effecting physical change. I say I would be wise to use whatever it takes to help me create the chemical changes in my body that support health (mental, physical and spiritual) and healing.

Randi admits that he believes we live in a good world. Not everyone would agree with that either. But those of us who do are at least on the first step toward helping ourselves live better and healthier lives, and perhaps helping the world become a happier place in which to live.

Peggy Pennington, St. Pete Beach

Mary Vincent's story was a moving one

Re: Easter front page was offensive, letters, April 20.

When I read the article on Easter morning about Mary Vincent, my eyes welled up. Anyone with a little compassion would have reacted the same way!

This lady seems to have more going for her than many so called Christians do.

I think the Times did an awesome job of delivering the news, as it always does. Please make me the editor of the Times next year, and I promise I will put "Happy Easter" right above the section that says Religion. It's somewhere in the back, isn't it?

Wayne Schatz, St. Petersburg

Children's art brings joy

I am writing to let all of the schoolchildren who have their art published in the Alligator Express how much I enjoy their efforts. They are really outstanding in poetry, prose and art. I am 86 and had no such opportunities during my school years.

Of my 13 great-grandchildren, I have three in Pinellas County and hope some day that I get to see one or all of them on the pages of the Express.

Congratulations and love to each and every one.

Marie A. Dixon, Seminole

A heavenly thrill

Thank you very much for your Monthly Sky Calendar, which always finds a place on my refrigerator door. Watching the moon come nearer and nearer to Venus and Jupiter, with that spectacular climax on April 23, made my morning walks unusually interesting. In the article Daryl Schrader wrote, "Don't miss it!"

Thanks to his helpful advice, I didn't. It was thrilling.

Clara Cartwright, Pinellas Park

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