In war against global trade, there are no winners | Nov. 29
Robert Samuelson's op-ed article is so biased that I feel compelled to respond.
In his first paragraph, he states, "In 2005, worldwide exports exceeded $10-trillion." He fails to state what the cost in good American manufacturing jobs has been to create that statistic. American workers and their families could not care less about worldwide exports. They are more concerned with who benefits from this trade, and it's not American workers. The beneficiaries are big business and Wall Street investors.
In his second paragraph, he attempts to scare us about layoffs in Colombia, South America. I am more concerned about layoffs in Columbia, S.C., or Columbus, Ohio.
The 13 trade agreements the United States entered into are destroying the middle class in this country. Agreements, such as NAFTA, have not benefited American workers, or Mexican workers. They have, however, fed the insatiable greed of big business and Wall Street investors.
If it takes "trade obstructionism" to right this sinking ship, I am all for it. Remember, these American workers are also American voters. Our interests lie first and foremost in America. The recent midterm election was the first signal of the rising resentment of American workers. Let's hope it is not the last.
Perhaps it is Robert Samuelson's job that should be exported to Bangladesh.
Oscar Kramer, Sun City Center
Too many complaints
The St. Petersburg Times has recently printed a spate of readers' letters that seem to focus attention on certain things they feel are wrong with the country and the government and national policies.
While they may be well-intentioned, it's difficult to understand the purpose of listing assumed negative factors in order to make a point. With all that may be wrong with the country and our government, it's difficult to find any other country that approaches ours in terms of freedom, opportunity and democracy.
Citing homelessness, shipping jobs abroad (which ignores the historically low unemployment rate and the assimilation of many millions of both legal and illegal immigrants), so-called health care difficulties encountered by seniors, minimum-wage jobs, gamma globulin treatments, hurricane victims, Iraq war wounded, etc., adds nothing to the quality of anyone's life. Perhaps it would be wise to remind these critics that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts, which often are at variance with reality.
Now might be a good time for those who are so critical to contribute either their time or their resources to those in our society whom they believe are in need of assistance. After all, it is that time of year, and such action would be far more effective and rewarding for all concerned.
Dan Calabria, South Pasadena
Aid afterschool care
Analysts will be deciphering the meaning of this year's congressional elections for some time. But one message almost everyone heard is that it's time for elected officials in Washington to put partisan animosity aside and get on with the business of governing.
Here's an issue that will give the new Congress a chance to demonstrate it's up to the challenge: increasing federal funding for afterschool programs. The federal contribution to afterschool care is still critical to the ambition to provide afterschool programs for all children who need them.
A poll conducted for the Afterschool Alliance on election eve and election night demonstrated the broad, bipartisan support for investing resources in afterschool care. Nearly three in four American voters, 72 percent, agree that "our newly elected public officials in Congress should increase funding for afterschool programs." That's a powerful call for action that would help keep our kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
Debra Ballinger, program services director, R'Club Child Care Inc., St. Petersburg
Property taxes have been in the news lately. Another way that most taxpayers are burdened is in their having to carry those with exemptions. The widow/widower exemption probably started at a time when women stayed home and had no source of income when their husbands died; widowers (men) were added when society was reducing gender bias.
But why in the 21st century do we lower taxes for those who've lost spouses? Just about everyone works now, and it's up to individuals to provide life insurance should one's spouse be financially dependent on the other.
I suggest that all single property owners (widowed, divorced and never married) get a tax break due to the property having only one income to support it, or that we eliminate all exemptions except for the disabled, who usually are unable to earn adequate income. Some laws that hang on the books "because it's always been that way" need a rethink.
Judy Nelson, Largo
Japan's dolphin slaughter | Nov. 27
Stop the cruelty
I wish to thank the St. Petersburg Times for calling attention to this horrific practice that is repeated year after year by an "enlightened" country.
There will never be peace in the world when people feel comfortable participating in such mass, bloody slaughter of any species, human or nonhuman. A culture of peace and compassion needs to permeate a people in all its actions. It really isn't difficult to be humane, compassionate and caring. There are alternatives to all "cultural activities" that promote the right values. After all, there was a time in history when children were sacrificed to the "gods." That practice and many others have since been discredited.
Human history has been brutally cruel, but we're evolving, albeit slowly. We need to substantially advance the process. Animal cruelty leads to insensitivity and cruelty in other areas. We are a violent world society. This needs to change.
Please go to www.glumbert.com/media/dolphin to truly understand what is happening in Japan.
Marilyn Weaver, Tarpon Springs
Torture kept under wraps | Nov. 27
What detainee rights?
This article, reprinted from the Washington Post, doesn't get it right. No matter what most people regard as torture, torture is the infliction of extreme physical pain. Cruel treatment and humiliation are not torture.
The captives in the war on terror are insurgents, bushwhackers, guerrillas, or whatever you want to call them. They are not regular troops in the uniform of a state with which we are at war. Accordingly, they do not have any rights, except those we wish to accord them.
However, the views set forth above may not matter since the Supreme Court has turned the U.S. Constitution into a suicide pact as a result of its recent decision applying "international law" and the Geneva Conventions to the case of an insurgent detainee.
By the way, Common Article 3 of that convention is intended to apply to a civil war, not the categories described above.
Edmund A. Hamburger, Pinellas Park
Newly declassified government documents reveal that Robert Gates, President Bush's pick to become the new secretary of defense, advocated for President Ronald Reagan to bomb Nicaragua in 1984 in an effort to topple the Sandinista government. At the time, Gates was deputy director of the CIA.
In a memo to CIA director William Casey, Gates wrote that the United States should do everything in its power short of invasion to bring down the Sandinista government. Gates has also been closely linked to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein. Nomination hearings for Gates are scheduled to begin Tuesday.
John C. Miller, Tampa