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    Letters to the Editors

    Community moves in right direction


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 10, 2002

    Re: Amid troubles, new voice emerges, Feb. 3.

    Kudos to NAACP president Darryl Rouson and St. Petersburg City Council Chairwoman Rene Flowers for what appears to be a step in the right direction. It is about time someone has begun to realize that there needs to be some element of self-responsibility in the black community with respect to our problems. Pointing fingers and making false, irresponsible accusations of racism never will help achieve what should be our goal of living free of violence, gang activity and open drug dealing.

    In any self-help program, the first step is always recognizing and admitting that you have a problem. Only then can you begin to eradicate it. We can never expect others to respect us when in so many ways we obviously don't respect ourselves. Darryl Rouson's words said it best: It's got to be about "community responsibility and community accountability." Amen.
    -- Ray Hendricks, Palm Harbor

    New voice welcome

    Re: Amid troubles, new voice emerges.

    As a progressive-minded citizen concerned about issues of race and community, I was encouraged to read in this article about the "new voice" that is emerging within the black community of St. Petersburg. Frankly, I believe that it is a voice that was always there but was drowned out by a combination of white prejudice on the one hand, and an unbalanced "pantheresque" militancy on the other.

    After a brief association with "Chairman" Omali Yeshitela and his organization, I have become disillusioned with an activist who appears to me to be a demagogue, indulging in the pretense of being the spokesman for a community whose views he does not, in fact, represent. I am glad to see that more responsible voices are recognizing that disrespect for at least the principle of "the rule of law" is not the way to heal the racial divisions in our city.
    -- John Feeney, St. Petersburg

    Coercion won't work

    Re: The fate of capitalism, by David J. Rothkopf, Feb. 3.

    The author paints our social and economic system, which he calls "capitalism," as a system under siege, one that, if not transformed by us capitalists into a system that the entire world will accept, will go the way of all previous failed social and economic models. He cites Rome and the British Empire, and lumps the Industrial Revolution into the mix as examples to try to make his point.

    History will forever doom to failure those who insist that their way of life, philosophy, religion or economic system must be imposed on the "unbelievers" of the world for their own good.

    Liberal philosophy such as Rothkopf's one of simply redistributing "wealth" promulgates the growth of dependency, self-loathing and resentment he so wishes to eliminate.

    The only enduring philosophies and social systems are those that are adopted by example, not by coercion or force, and themselves evolve along with mankind, to fulfill the changing needs of a changing world.

    What frightens me, is that Rothkopf and his ilk tend to totally ignore self-determination and personal and national responsibility as the main causes of our individual and collective condition. According to Rothkopf, we are the bad guys, and those less fortunate had no hand in their own condition.

    The downfall of the United States will come from not being true to our original principles and/or by trying to impose our system on those not wanting to accept it, for whatever reason, and using limited resources in that foolhardy endeavor.
    -- Robin Humphrey, Crystal River

    Harmful handouts

    Re: The fate of capitalism.

    David Rothkopf is right on target with his assumption that the next Marx walks the world today. What he fails to see is that the next Marx need not hail from some foreign nation; he is living in America today -- Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

    Daschle continues his mantra of tax cuts being giveaways to the wealthy. He would like to redistribute the wealth in America, effectively eliminating the incentive to work hard and be productive. The richest Americans got the bulk of the tax cut because they paid the biggest share of taxes. If Daschle is opposed to giveaways, maybe he should stop pushing the $73-billion farm bill, overflowing with giveaways disguised as subsidies.

    Daschle is a proponent of big government and would love no limits on spending. He should read about the fall of the Roman Empire. Maybe then he would begin to understand what happens when there is a heavy tax burden on the few at the top and the government is giving handouts to everyone else.
    -- Timothy Hobbs, St. Petersburg

    A realistic view

    Re: The fate of capitalism.

    Writer David Rothkopf is reflecting the feelings of the billions of people who together earn what the top 358 richest people in the world have as a net worth. It seems as though there will have to be some changes in our world before there is fairness in the distribution of wealth. Rothkopf sees the "have-nots" of the world as potential followers of any effective leader who will promise a solution, no matter what the consequences.

    Sure, economic equality would be fair to all. But at what cost? Great confrontations over economic inequality have proved to be futile in the past. Is there a leader out there who can provide the solution? Show me that leader and I will follow him, because I believe in fairness.

    Is greed seen by all as the reason for the fall of Enron Corp.? Is Enron symbolic of what's to come as greed continues to influence the world economy and the well-being of the billions of people here and abroad? Many are gripped with despair over lack of food, unemployment and lack of health care. With more and more despair each day, millions of them are looking for a better future. As Rothkopf states, "... we can be sure that someone, somewhere will offer an alternative vision."

    He observes that we, the citizens of the most successful nation in history, think any threat to our system of values is impossible. This could be the very thing that will allow it to come true.

    The Rothkopf article pulls no punches. It is a realistic look at things as they are in an anxious world.
    -- Bill Newell, Spring Hill

    Who will decide?

    On Feb. 3, two writers, David Rothkopf and Bill Maxwell, sent shivers down my spine! The last paragraph of Rothkopf's article and Maxwell's view of "privilege" reminded me of my college days when the espousal of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was most certainly considered communist! My how times have changed!

    "Just" distribution of wealth, says Rothkopf!

    "Privileged" people have an obligation, shouts Maxwell!

    Will the Times decide what is "just"? Will the Times decide who is "underprivileged"?
    -- B. Brask, Dunedin

    A human thing

    Re: Blacks share a duty to one another, by Bill Maxwell, Feb. 3.

    Having been a loyal reader of Bill Maxwell's column for the past four years, I have come to respect him both as a writer and a human being. The one subject, however, on which we disagree mightily is what it means to be born to disadvantage. He says he believes "African-Americans are uniquely disadvantaged in a society where race and ethnicity matter more than most people acknowledge . . ."

    It often matters little if a child -- black or white -- is born with "a good mind." If the other components -- a wholesome family life and responsible adults to make the early years safe and secure -- are missing. That child's chances are less than average. The fact is that a black child who grows up with the "privilege" of a wholesome family life has a far better chance than a white child who lacked that advantage.

    So rather than saying "Blacks share a duty to one another," why not say, "Human beings share a duty to one another"? With all due respect to Black History Month, Maxwell's suggestions are, as usual, constructive. But why they are race-specific is beyond me.
    -- Kathy Greene, Dunedin

    Just don't read it

    Re: Move strip to editorial page, letter, Feb. 1.

    I chuckled when I read the letter from a reader who is apparently upset with the inclusion of Doonesbury in the comic section of your paper. Of the 21 strips published daily, I read only three of them. And Doonesbury happens to be my favorite. Might I suggest to the disgruntled reader that she consider the fact that different people have different tastes, and if she does not like Doonesbury, she should avoid reading it.
    -- Jane A. Duguid, Largo

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