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Corporations should join in the spirit of sacrifice

Re: Jobless rate skyrockets, Nov. 3.

On Sept. 11 we were told quickly by all media outlets that the world had changed forever. Indeed, that was true, but the next big question is: How? Since Sept. 11, the media have done a great job of reporting every detail that goes on in the world and relating it to the terrorist attack. This kind of tunnel vision has led to a great deal of reporting and emotional response from the public as whole.

However there seems to be a complete loss of seeing the whole picture in context. The resulting rise in nationalism has caused any kind of dissent from the national groupthink to be viewed not only with suspicion, but with down-right malevolence.

The unemployment graph accompanying the Page 1 story on the Labor Department's release of unemployment information shows exactly where the problem lies. Unemployment was inching up throughout the whole year preceding Sept. 11. Companies just took advantage of the situation to make publicly unpopular but profitable decisions.

Before Sept. 11, there was a growing anticorporate feeling in America that has died on the vine since "America comes together." The very thrust of the anticorporate feeling comes from the belief that corporations are large organizations that take on many of the rights of a person while exercising far greater power over world affairs and accepting less responsibility for their actions than people.

Corporations are not moral in the sense that people are. They know only profits and good business. Emotions like patriotism and social responsibility are beyond the boardrooms, although the public relations departments know how to use nationalism to their advantage. If our economy goes deep into the tank, we can be led to blame all our misery on every Arab face we see, but much of the blame will belong to Americans sitting on a big pile of money and claiming great success.

Americans have come together, and put aside differences since Sept. 11. We've made sacrifices. We prepare to make more. The opposite is true of corporate America. The corporations have been jittery and cautious about losing any ground in the chase for the highest profits. They have been opportunists in wrapping themselves in the flag to increase sales. They ask government to ignore those workers they have laid off and at the same time demand the government give them help in maintaining profits. In short, they sense a shrinking American pie, and they are moving quickly and powerfully to be sure they get the largest part of it.

Our president has asked all Americans to sacrifice for our effort on the war on terrorism. We have, and we will. He should do the same. The first thing he should do is go to his campaign manager and get a list of all those corporations that contributed to his campaign and ask them to sacrifice not for an election, but for the United States of America, for which we stand.

David Horning, St. Petersburg

Raiding the national treasury

Re: Lobbyists' lust for handouts runs unabated, by Gretchen Morgenson, Nov. 6.

As a trial lawyer and defender of our court system, I am not surprised by the unmitigated corporate greed and moral corruption of our political leaders uncovered once again in Morgenson's article. The article demonstrates that in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, corporate, banking and conservative political leaders are using this national emergency as an excuse to raid the national treasury for handouts and tax breaks. Not only are corporations getting future tax breaks but they are even getting rebates of billions of dollars in taxes that they paid in years past.

Our judicial branch of government is the only one that is not controlled by corporate money and politics. We must all jealously guard the independence of our courts and resist any form of "tort reform" suggested by big business or politicians. Already we are seeing attempts to politicize the selection and tenure of our judges. Our only hope of containing corporate greed and political expedience is a court system and independent judges free from such influence.

William M. Scheikart, St. Petersburg

We need some encouraging words

I think more thought should have been given to the Nov. 3 headline, Jobless rate skyrockets, and the story in Monday's Business Times, Recovery: How far off?

Do you think the public wants to read more depressive news after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, and now the anthrax scare? You're playing into the hands of the terrorist organizations by telling them they have successfully brought the United States to its knees by causing the death and destruction of Sept. 11, the spreading of anthrax and now the financial ruin of the American economy. What's next?

Don't you realize how this news affects the reading public? This drives the economy into a deeper recession and ultimately into a depression. At a time like this we don't need more doom and gloom but more public encouragement. The rippling effect spreads to the buying public, affecting the retailer, the automobile business, the fuel business, the tourist business, restaurant business, transportation business, newspapers, advertising, hotel and motel business, etc. The buying public such as "Mr. Six Pack" who lives from paycheck to paycheck will soon be unemployed as businesses start pulling in their belts and downsizing. Then the national economy comes to a screeching halt because of what they read in the newspaper. Also keep in mind that your paper will be affected as your readers will discontinue taking the paper as an unnecessary expense. Your job then becomes disposable. Do you see the importance of what you write?

Why don't you come up with some positive editorials?

Ralph Kochan, Clearwater

State shouldn't be cutting services

It was scary to read that ". . . Florida's already slowing economic scene is going to get a lot nastier than had been expected." But it was heartening to learn that by spring, "business conditions should brighten" and improve gradually over the next several years. (Robert Trigaux's column, Business News, Nov. 5).

I hope Gov. Jeb Bush, Senate President John McKay and House Speaker Tom Feeney are aware of what these economists had to say about Florida's economy. It would be valuable in the decisions they are making by telephone before holding another special session to balance the budget.

They have already decided to delay the cut on the intangibles tax for 18 months. How about a short term increase of { percent in the sales tax? It has been estimated that this would raise enough money to cover the shortfall, and who would be hurt?

On the other hand, cutting prenatal health care for women on Medicaid could hurt us all in the expense of providing lifetime health care for underweight and disabled babies. Floridians have worked hard and long for the meager services provided children, teachers and the elderly. Now is not the time to cut the few gains we have made.

It is really time for our state policymakers to show some courage and correct our miserable tax base. However, if they do not have this kind of courage, at least they could correct the situation for six months or a year, until the next election.

Dorothy Wylie, New Port Richey

Manatees still need protection

Re: On alligators and manatees.

Two items in the Nov. 1 paper, Leave the big boys alone and Proposal could remove manatees from list of endangered species, touch on the population biology of a pair of Florida's premiere species, alligators and manatees. As a biologist with Mote Marine Laboratory, I originated the idea that Florida should perform an annual winter manatee count similar to the Audubon Society's Christmas bird counts. The purpose was to assess in some measure the relative population trend. The fear was recognized that high counts at some point might bring calls for "delisting" the manatee as an endangered species in the same way that alligators were removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 when their numbers rose to a level suggesting their survival during the 1980s.

Had last year's manatee census figure of 3,276 been the result of a population boom from successful management and protection, perhaps we could celebrate the recovery of the species. Unfortunately, a cursory analysis of sizes of manatees found dead over the first 12 years of the Manatee Carcass Salvage Program showed fewer large animals and a fluctuating percentage of small animals.

This is the same point so clear in Jeff Klinkenberg's opinion piece about the destruction of the third-largest alligator recorded in Florida. I refer to it as the "lunker" theory, in which the loss of the lunkers in a lake is bad news for the stability of the population. Unlike alligators, manatees are slow breeding. The loss of older and wiser manatees leaves the population seriously at risk. Reducing protections by delisting manatees would further degrade the security of the manatees and steal more of Florida's biological heritage from future generations not yet here to protest.

Geoff Patton, Ph.D., Tampa

Encouraging the kids to read

Re: Harry Potter and moral Relativism, letter,

Nov. 6.

The letter writer condemns the Harry Potter series as being immoral and anti-Christian. She states that she will not let her children read the books. That is fine, and she is certainly entitled to her opinion.

I, for one, am ever so happy about the published series. The children of this country are reading. In fact, they are standing in line at bookstores as each new volume is published.

I grew up in the 1950s, and I believe my parents had the right idea: Read everything and anything you want. We did. Some of it was sexual in nature, but we got bored with that right away. I never cared for the knights of the Round Table, but my brother did. I much preferred mysteries and books by Steinbeck and Hemingway.

I recall as a Catholic back then that the church published the Index Expurgatorius or List of Forbidden Books. That simply became most kids' wish list. For those whose parents paid attention to the list, they simply borrowed our copies of the books.

As my mother used to say whenever another person complained that she did not become a censor, "condemnant qui non intelligent" (you condemn what you do not understand).

Encourage those kids to read!

Patricia Horton, St. Petersburg

The poop from Paris

Re: Dog owners beware: Paris cracks down on droppings, Nov. 6.

Dare I say, "How refreshing"? To be sure, the dog droppings problem is endemic in Paris where residents and visitors alike spent more time watching where they step rather than looking at the sights.

I was relieved (oops) that I had something to read that was not about war or anthrax; it was not about the United States, Afghanistan or Israel. Can it be that the rest of the world still exists? That there is other foreign news after all? Thank you from a grateful reader who needs respite from all the media's daily fare.

Diane Heckerman, New Port Richey

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