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Trade deal with China would be a big mistake

Re: Advantages of trade. Editorial, May 16.

Once again it is sad that a Times editorial only represents one side of the issue dealing with U.S.-international agreements. It was nice to see the Times finally admit that "our import of cheap Chinese products already threatens some U.S. industries and creates a chronic balance-of-payments $68.7-billion for 1999 defict with China."

The Times is wrong in thinking this new trade agreement would change any of this. The Times failed to mention the study by the Economic Policy Institute that warns we could lose more than 600,000 U.S. jobs if this agreement is passed.

Moreover, even President Clinton acknowledged that China has violated past trade agreements with the U.S. The Times should also know China has child labor, prison labor and no democracy whatsoever. Like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), this too would be a major mistake if passed by Congress.

Norm Lupo, officer, Florida Sun Coast Council of Retired

U.A.W. Workers, Clearwater

Trade deal is an economic opportunity

Re: Clinton lines up notables on China, May 10.

I lived in the People's Republic of China for nearly five years and I witnessed a fantastic growth in the economy. This economic explosion spurred increasing demands for telecommunications, manufacturing, machinery and technology, agricultural products, transportation, infrastructural projects and consumer goods.

It is inconceivable to me that U.S. factories and businesses, which are capable of supplying such a large segment of the world with goods and services, should be excluded by narrow-minded politicians from the events happening on the other side of the globe. If the Chinese can't get these products from America, they will get them elsewhere. That country is already saturated with foreign ventures vying to supply everything from soap, elevators, processed food, refrigerators and automobiles, to computers, telecommunications and hydro-electric technology.

If the China trade deal doesn't pass, we will be giving away an incredible economic opportunity. Perhaps Pat Buchanan and those of his ilk will rejoice. So will German and Korean automakers, French and British telecommunications companies, Italian and Swiss machinery companies, Swedish and Australian infrastructure engineering firms and Japanese computer manufacturers and food processors. They will rejoice because they won't have to compete against the United States for a slice of the pie.

I can't understand the opposition from U.S. labor unions. The UAW doesn't like the prospects of a Chinese member of the WTO, even though that would give U.S. automakers virtually unlimited access to China. Huh? The China Trade Bill creates work for American workers by expanding the marketplace.

Other detractors of this legislation are those who would impose our Western moral and legal values upon the Beijing government. There are obvious abuses of individual civil liberties that occur in China, and hopefully, with increased dependency and interactivity with industrial democracies, the situation will change. Believe me, engagement, rather than isolation, is the solution to the problem.

China will ultimately find a way to modernization, with or without American participation. A "no" vote on this bill only denies the United States the chance to be a player in one-fifth of the world's market.

Bob Gray, Brandon

We should try to limit drugs' harm

Re: Put it to the test, May 1.

Your editorial on attempts to update Florida's drug-free workplace regulations was both perplexing and flawed. As a noted authority on drug-free workplace programs, with 20 years' experience in this area, I found your venomous indictment of this prevention tool excessive and in defiance of reality.

Attempts to limit the harm that alcohol and other drug use inflicts on businesses and non-drug using employees are both prudent and justifiable. Small wonder that Rep. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, and other members of the House sought to improve and expand a program designed to reduce drug use and assist Florida companies and employees. They should be commended, not panned.

Contrary to your comment, there has been no credible research conducted which would support your assertion that off-the-job drug use is not a significant factor in worker safety or productivity. To the contrary, many case studies based on the experiences of individual companies have shown significant, ongoing reductions in accidents, filing of workers' compensation claims, thefts, liability costs, absenteeism, etc. after they adopted drug-free workplaces. A scientific study of airline pilots proved conclusively that impairment lasted beyond 24 hours after smoking just one marijuana joint. Are you suggesting that it is okay for our pilots to smoke a joint at night and then fly our planes the next morning?

From a workplace perspective, one of the most daunting aspects about marijuana is the potential for users to be involved in accidents. A study conducted at the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services tested 1,023 emergency room patients with major trauma injuries during a given time frame for the presence of marijuana and alcohol. Marijuana was found in 34.7 percent of the patients and alcohol was present in 33.5 percent. The use of marijuana and alcohol in combination was found in 16.5 percent of the patients, compared with marijuana alone (18.3 percent) and alcohol alone (16.1 percent). It should be noted that nearly 10 times more people are current users of alcohol as are current marijuana users, yet marijuana played a higher role than alcohol in these injuries.

The Department of Insurance should research the benefits of offering increased discounts for companies that qualify as Florida drug-free workplaces. Based on the findings of the studies I mentioned, such a cost-benefit analysis would almost surely justify an increased discount for and expansion of the protections afforded by Florida's drug-free workplace program.

Additionally, your casual reference to employees who use drugs off the job simply being less than upright citizens ignores that the fact that they are engaging in unhealthy, illegal behavior. After all, a company has a right to expect its employees to be law-abiding citizens.

Calvina L. Fay, executive director, Drug Free American

Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg

Consider wider needs in Gandy project

The Florida Department of Transportation should keep in mind that a new Gandy corridor connecting the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway to the Gandy bridges has the main purpose of speeding up and increasing traffic from outlying areas through this congested area with the least practical inconvenience to the merchants and residents of this area.

The Gandy bridges are currently underutilized because of the congestion getting to and from them, and could divert much traffic from the Howard Frankland Bridge.

The people in the Gandy corridor do not need better bridge access because they are already there, close to the bridges. These people want the FDOT to beautify and widen Gandy Boulevard to provide a better shopping environment, which defeats the purpose of a rapid-access corridor.

The FDOT seems to favor a bypass along the railroad track. Two other practical options considered are a Paris, France-type viaduct under Gandy Boulevard or an elevated roadway, both of which would save the cost of buying more land or removing land from the tax rolls.

The people in the Gandy area are a very small group compared to the many people in the outlying areas who would benefit greatly by a rapid-access route.

Russell K. Williams, Tampa

Report more on third-party candidates

Can we please have more information on third-party candidates? Many of us have no interest in the present duopoly.

The May 13 article 2 challengers file to take on Young in congressional race reported on two third-party contenders. Two-thirds of the article detailed the misdemeanors of one candidate. The other candidate, whose stated platform is peace, got just a couple of lines! Let us hear more about Josette Green.

Grace Koch, St. Petersburg

Clarifying a comment

It has come to my attention that a statement we made in an article (Non-profits find that givers can take, too, April 17) the St. Petersburg Times did recently on the John Sykes' $3.4-million gift to Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., may have left the wrong impression. When we said that Sykes "got a tax deduction for it," we did not mean to imply that he had already taken this deduction on his income tax, but that he is entitled to such a deduction for this most generous gift to our non-profit organization.

We sincerely apologize to Sykes for any wrong implications or harmful consequences that may have been derived from our statement. We in no way intended to impugn his motives or harm his reputation.

Dr. Normal L. Geisler, president, Southern Evangelical

Seminary, Charlotte, N.C.

Corporation joins fight against AIDS

Re: At last, U.S. fights AIDS in Africa, May 5.

I read with interest your editorial about how the United States is finally taking AIDS in Africa seriously. In the editorial, you ask why pharmaceutical companies are not willing to cut their profits to help stop the epidemic.

One company, CEL-SCI Corp., just announced on May 1 that it has offered the South African government a free license to test and use its AIDS vaccine. Geert Kersten, CEL-SCI'S chief executive officer, is quoted as stating, "We are willing to transfer all of our scientific knowledge and rights to the South African market to the Government of South Africa for free; no payment now or in the future. We do not know what else we could do to help a nation in distress."

Sometimes you don't even realize the questions you are asking have already been answered.

Lee Kasner, Clearwater

Hypocrisy exposed

Kudos to John Leo (Pliancy to gay rights coerces campus, May 13) for exposing the hypocrisy of Tufts University and other college officials who insist that Christian groups on campus do not have a right to select leaders who support the group's core beliefs. By that logic, an evangelical Christian who believes homosexual behavior is sinful and who thinks gays should change their sexual orientation should be allowed to lead a gay and lesbian group on campus.

It's obvious that some college officials have been co-opted by the gay community's goal of wiping out all dissent to its lifestyle. It's also obvious that the same gay activists who berate Christians for their so-called intolerance are themselves intolerant to others' viewpoints.

Kenneth Smith, St. Petersburg

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