Recent letters have lamented the poor or limited foreign language instruction in the United States (Learning for global realities and U.S. lags in language education, letters, July 12). They are right that other countries stress language learning much more than we do. But there is a reason that this is so: It is that the world needs a universal language, and English has already turned out to be that language. In Europe, for example, people are surrounded by other countries, all of which speak different languages. They cannot possibly learn them all and, as a result, English is taught everywhere, beginning early in elementary school. So English is the common language in Europe, as well as in the rest of the world.
One of the letter writers traveled to countries where Bulgarian, Czech, Romanian and Serbian were spoken. Which of those languages would he recommend that we teach in our schools?
And then there is Chinese _ China is the coming economic powerhouse. But unless you are going to travel to China, you don't need Chinese. And even if you do, many English speakers are available there alsofor the same reason: English is the world language.
We native English speakers are lucky. We already speak the universal language. There are reasons for us to learn another language. I am a retired professor of Spanish, and Spanish is a language that has obvious utility in the United States. I encourage people to learn any language that interests them. But everywhere we go, we probably will not have studied the local language, and we will find that most or many people there will speak English.
James S. Holton, Tampa
Punishment is out of proportion
Re: Ex-CEO gets 25-year sentence, July 14.
People convicted of manslaughter get shorter sentences than that which former WorldCom chief Bernie Ebbers got. Even people convicted of murder have a chance of serving less time than he will.
Corporate crime is indeed a serious problem in America and one that needs to be addressed, but a quarter of a century behind bars for a crime that never saw a drop of blood spilled is an insult to every victim of a violent crime whose attacker got a lighter sentence than Ebbers did.
Someone with the level of greed that Ebbers displayed is punished fairly by having all of his material possessions taken, which has already happened. Throw in five years in jail and the message would be loud enough and clear enough for every CEO in America to hear.
That the illegal movement of small pieces of green paper can be considered more egregious than the spilling of innocent blood testifies to the worst and greediest angels of our nature. Surely that isn't justice, but vengeance.
Daniel E. Vergara, Palm Harbor
Consumers need to stay alert
Re: Reach out and touch; they'll reach out and take, by Howard Troxler, July 12.
Go, Howard! This phone rate hike is a lousy deal for consumers and it's not too late to stop it.
The cozy deal by phone companies to increase rates isn't the only one consumers are left out of.
Verizon is negotiating for cable television franchises in a number of cities and municipalities, but is fuzzy about details on when or if all neighborhoods will benefit from increased competition.
Once again, their spokesperson said that consumers don't belong at the table during negotiations. Given what they pulled off on the rate increase, it's not hard to see why.
Meanwhile, Verizon is neglecting the copper wire system they're charging us higher rates for!
Franchise agreements should ensure that the new services are offered to everyone, not just the wealthy. Local governments should demandbuildout plans and timelines so that all consumers can benefit from increased competition.
Let's not let history repeat itself.
Bill Newton, executive director, Florida
Consumer Action Network, Tampa
Businesses get the breaks
Re: Ruling allows Ford Amphitheatre concerts to go on, July 12.
It was a "clear" legal victory the other day for Clear Channel over Hillsborough County when the company won the right to blast more music from its amphitheater with total disregard for people's well being. The climate now in Florida may be stormy for residents, but it is certainly very friendly for any business that wants to trounce on people's rights and wallets.
The phone rate increase is another example of government gone wrong. "Government for the people" in Florida has been replaced with "Government for the businesses." Hopefully next year's election of a new governor will give us a fresh start.
Jim Steinle, Clearwater
Greed keeps on growing
Greed lies at the heart of most of the corporate scandals we hear about, but it is also having far-reaching effects on all elements of our society today. The tax increases that benefited the wealthy have left government, at all levels, without the funds to meet pressing social needs. The July 12 editorial (Cutting a lifeline) highlights the problem facing the mentally ill, who may soon be deprived of the medication needed to control serious bipolar disorders. Also in the July 12 paper is a story about the owner/builder of an ostentatious, 28,500-square-foot house who is asking for a zoning change to allow him to expand a development of 14 luxury estates.
The gap between rich and poor in this country continues to grow, and I believe overarching greed is gradually destroying our society.
Jessie W. Bush, Sun City Center
Reasonable homes are available
Re: Unaffordable housing.
I keep reading articles about how there is no affordable housing in St. Petersburg or other areas around Tampa Bay. This seems a little questionable to me because I know that there are areas of St. Petersburg that are more affordable.
Just to check, I went to realtor.com and typed in my ZIP code with limits of $75,000 to $150,000 for housing. Sure enough, I found 25 properties for sale in this price range.
I find it hard to believe that these people can't find an affordable home in St. Petersburg. Maybe they are unwilling/afraid to move into a "diverse" neighborhood.
Beth Crosa, St. Petersburg
Remembering Lisa McPherson
Re: Scientology case takes toll on doctor, July 9.
I find it timely to see the item about Joan Wood having to turn in her license to practice medicine. It brought back some of the facts surrounding the Lisa McPherson case.
Is this the type of treatment Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology have in mind for taking care of the so-called mentally ill? That woman needed help very badly, and wound up dead. I wonder if proper care and medication might have saved her life?
Cathy Singleton, St. Petersburg