U.S. failing to protect young farmworkers - June 27, Bill Maxwell column
Since moving here eight years ago from Missouri, I have spent countless hours and days in the labor camps and fields in this beautiful state we call Florida. My kind and generous Unitarian Church here in Clearwater gathers clothes and food to be distributed to farmworkers in these camps. I load my truck up and go to the camps with my friend Maria McCourt.
I wish everyone who is a parent could go with me to these camps. Many times I have witnessed children walking through the fields barefooted. It kills me to see this because in Florida our land is so sandy farmers have to put on as much as 160 pounds of fertilizer and pesticides per acre, compared to 53 pounds per acre in California.
Most families and children live right on the farm in old trailers at the end of rows of strawberries and tomatoes. Because of our need for cheap food, we exploit poor people. Not just Mexicans, but Haitians, Dominicans, etc., whose luck it was to be born poor.
When you pray tonight with your children, you should thank God your children are not exploited and used for cheap labor to work in these hot, pesticide-filled fields. How can you, as a nation under God, continue to let this happen to God's children. Shame.
Joseph D. Morgan, past president, Pinellas County Support Committee of the National Farm Worker Ministry, Clearwater
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The wealthy already pay their fair share and Tax cuts as stimulus - June 30, letters
The rich are still winning
If there is a class war between the rich and the poor, it's easy to see who is winning. One example of the propaganda defending the wealthy, is that the wealth has already been taxed. Bill Gates and the members of the Walton family pay tax on income and a greatly reduced capital gains tax, but their wealth accumulates tax free. They don't pay tax on the value of their holdings in Microsoft and Walmart until they pass them on. The claim that family farms have been lost is also false. If the estate tax is eliminated, this allows heirs to acquire wealth that they never worked hard for or added to with ingenuity and never paid taxes on.
Members of the Walton family, who are among the richest Americans, contributed huge sums to the lobbying effort to kill this tax. How much more do they need considering that most of their employees make $10 an hour? Could you afford an apartment, a car for work and food on that pay?
One other tax scam I would like to mention is the idea that tax cuts stimulate employment. I think employers who hire Americans to work could legitimately claim relief and would be due a bit of tax relief. That said, the way to increase jobs is to increase demand by private and public spending. Anyone who thinks an employer is going to hire new employees because of a tax break is not thinking clearly. If demands for goods are increased so the employers cannot keep up with orders, then they will add workers and machinery. Supply and demand. If they really believe in capitalism, they should understand that.
David Sullivan, Tampa
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The Fourth of July
Lead us not to dependence
My experience tells me your thoughts are leaning toward this most precious day of celebration in our country. I hope you, as an editorial body, pause and recall the name associated with the holiday, Independence Day. And then reflect and ask yourselves if we, as a nation, are improving upon our independence or are we moving in a direction of changing the name of our most hollowed day to Dependence Day.
Dependence on the federal government for our every need seems to be the path opening before us. Those who many years ago, and even today, gave their lives for independence would be awfully upset to know of the coming change - Dependence Day.
Norman S. Cannella Sr., Tampa
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A better life in Western Europe
June 27, Robyn Blumner column
At the risk of sounding trite, I will gladly buy Robyn Blumner a one-way ticket to Europe so that she can revel in her socialist utopia.
Apparently, she hasn't noticed all of the current economic problems in Greece, Spain and other Western European countries caused by low productivity, expanded holidays, early retirement and free or low-cost health care.
Closer to home, she could check out the many American cities in or near bankruptcy for their similar generosity to public sector workers.
This country's job engine is the small companies founded by people with an idea and the entrepreneurial spirit to make it happen. Our president doesn't get it, and neither does Blumner.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
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New on docket: Call corporations to account
Wary of wealth
In E.J. Dionne's excellent column on the dangers of corporate power, he cites former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis' warning against the concentration of economic power and its ability to dominate the state.
It called to mind another of Brandeis' caveats: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
With current political campaigns demanding enormous and excessive financing, we see corporate and personal fortunes drawing prime place in vote-peddling. Justice Brandeis' observations are still well-founded ... unfortunately.
Patricia Vigneau, Spring Hill
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A final day's mission and a farewell to Iraq
A dedicated emissary
One picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, that is clearly evidenced in the faces - especially the eyes - of the young women of Iraq showing off their homework to Mary-Denise Tabar.
What a gift the students have been given. It goes far beyond the school work; it reaches into their hearts and everlasting memories. Mary-Denise is an ambassador, an emissary not chosen or directed by man but imbued with the spirit within her to serve mankind. And, boy, does she do that! So many years of dedicated learning and preparing for her mission in life - with a magnificent payoff for the benefit of the world.
Milka Bamond, St. Petersburg
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One giant leap for a young dancer
June 28, story
It's features such as this one that keep me reading the newspaper. The article about young Emily and her first pair of pointe shoes brought back such wonderful memories for me.
It was nearly 40 years ago that I experienced the thrill of "going on toe." I had been taking ballet lessons at Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance since I was 6 years old, and finally, at age 11, I was allowed to get my pointe shoes! I still remember how beautiful they were. I literally slept with them the first night I had them!
Today, they hang on my bedroom wall, a reminder of the joy that ballet brought to me. Congratulations to Emily and all the other young girls who understand the thrill of a pair of satin pointe shoes!
Jennie Ibarguen, St. Petersburg