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  • Letters: We have to confront class size costs


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    Letters to the Editors

    We have to confront class size costs

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 2, 2003

    Re: Class (size) warfare.

    Jon East's Feb. 23 article outlining the challenges for implementing Amendment 9's class size reductions is long on finger pointing but short on solutions. Gov. Jeb Bush, contrary to public opinion, has submitted a responsible budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that shows the economic costs for implementing the amendment.

    Critics of the governor's budget seemingly can't comprehend that unfunded mandates like the class size amendment require a radical fiscal re-allocation in order to be in compliance. Economists recognize that the true cost of class size reductions is measured in the value of resources transferred away from alternative activities. This means fewer budgeted resources for higher education, health care, law enforcement and transportation.

    When class size opponents were vilified last year for not supporting the education of Florida's youth, our simple rejoinder was that the amendment's noble goal must be balanced against the cost. Now that Floridians see the true economic costs associated with compliance, blame is unfairly directed at Tallahassee. The only politically feasible solution is to immediately repeal this fiscally irresponsible amendment or else endure continued accelerated budget cuts.

    Numbers don't lie, people do.
    -- Bill Dickens, Tallahassee

    Subsidized tuition

    Re: Higher ed. Feb. 23.

    Anita Kumar's article deserves applause. However, one of the most important facts was omitted. The state subsidizes each college student with about $10,000 to keep the tuition low. This is a gross misuse of our taxes. And then, for anyone to complain about a rise in tuition cost is like rubbing salt on a wound.

    Everyone needs to hear the rest of the story. I voted for the Republicans with hope that the tax burden would be reduced. It is their platform, and I will applaud them when they do it.
    -- Bill Burgin, Spring Hill

    Dealing in deficits

    Re: Economics 101: why deficits are bad, Feb. 24.

    An article in your newspaper a few years ago said deficits are good! Republicans are in, and to hear Democrats tell it, deficits are bad.

    Both Democrats and Republicans run deficits, and when they are out they blame the other party for having them. There is always something the ins say make deficits necessary: war, depression, recession, terror, suffering humanity. They are just excuses. Politicians and the people both love deficits. The people get immediate gratification, not understanding deficits are hidden taxes. And politicians get credit for giving them welfare.

    Here at home, the people just voted two budget busters. Those proposals should have been accompanied by a means of paying for them -- either new taxes or cuts in other programs. Never having met a tax it didn't like, the Times is having an apoplectic attack about the latter.
    -- Francis J. Sullivan, St. Petersburg

    An act of vengeance

    Re: Inmate executed after 26 years, Feb. 27.

    The article depicted the state execution of Amos Lee King as a tender and rational act. Sympathy for the family aside, he was killed to avenge a killing. Since he was killed on behalf of the state, all our hands are bloodied.

    Our government apparently respects life just as much as King did. I have difficulty figuring out who's the most ruthless.
    -- Waylon Brown, Clearwater

    Clarence Thomas' problem

    Re: Court opens door, Feb. 26.

    All eight of the white Supreme Court justices, including the ultra-conservative Antonin Scalia, voted to allow black and Hispanic death row inmates in Texas to appeal their convictions if they can show that there was racial bias in a prosecutor's use of discretionary strikes of potential jurors. Clarence Thomas, the one black judge, voted against it.

    Could Mr. Thomas be ashamed of his race? After all, he has a white wife and he avoids taking any position that might emphasize his being black. It's ironic that he was George Bush's replacement for the great Thurgood Marshall. Maybe Mr. Thomas should call Michael Jackson and ask him for the name of his plastic surgeon.
    -- Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor

    Fawning media

    Local coverage of Tampa's upcoming mayoral election reached a new nadir with Mary Jo Melone's Feb. 27 column. Ever since Pam Iorio coyly entered the race, the bay area's media outlets have waxed symphonic over her decision to run.

    Speaking for myself, at this point I don't have a favorite horse at this late date in the race -- odd because I'm normally very outspoken politically. However, it's disappointing to watch the media making fools of themselves over a candidate with no real experience as an executive -- please don't suggest that the elections supervisor job counts -- and a brief tenure on the Hillsborough County Commission to bolster her resume.

    We may never know what motivated the fawning coverage of Iorio's candidacy, but I'm hoping that area voters aren't swayed from their favorite candidates by the one-sided coverage.
    -- Jim Parker, Tampa

    Another dead horse

    It is obvious that you are promoting Bob Graham for president in 2004 by your extended coverage of him. Frankly, I am tired of looking at his face in your paper.

    You endorsed Al Gore and Bill McBride, and they both lost. Now you are beating another dead horse. Give it up!
    -- Betty Dobson, Clearwater

    Dissent off track

    Re: The fight against apathy rages in our back yard, Feb. 23.

    The antiwar slogan at Eckerd College, "Dissent protects democracy," cited by columnist Bill Maxwell, perverts an important concept. Democracies protect dissent. That protection is premised upon the probability that majority opinion and official policy will sometimes be mistaken. It does not follow that each dissent benefits democracy. Furthermore, an excessive volume and variety of dissents confuse and endanger the representative and legal processes, and invite something less constitutional and accountable in their place.

    Soon after World War II, while still a naval officer, I told my captain (USS Reno) that I doubted I would be willing to fight in another war. In my next professional position (early 1950s, University of Akron), I taught that racial discrimination was a serious problem of American society, and I continued doing so after being admonished by my dean that such a subject was "too mature" for the young college students. In both instances I acted alone, after careful consideration of the issue, and at some risk to my future.

    By the mid-1960s dissent was becoming, in my estimation, more a popular form of recreation than a thoughtful contribution to politics. Today I am convinced that most of the dissent in America is primarily a form of adventure, too lacking in intellectual or moral content to benefit either democracy or humanity.
    -- Ivan Parkins, New Port Richey

    Terrorist ploys

    Robyn Blumner completely missed the point in her Feb. 23 column Moussaoui may be mad, but he's got a point.

    First of all, neither the defendant nor the witness in question are American citizens, and in Moussaoui's case, he was not even in the United States legally on Sept. 11. (As a French citizen, he entered the United States in Feb. 2001 where he was legally entitled to stay for up to 90 days without a visa.)

    Secondly, it is the terrorists who are playing our legal system like "musical chairs" -- they are specifically trained on how to exploit our justice system for the benefit of their cause. Moussaoui's seemingly insane actions are just another ploy to further delay and taint our legal process, and he knows exactly what he is doing.

    There's a new game being played, and the terrorists of the world do not mind cheating.
    -- Michael McGinty, New Port Richey

    Frightening faith

    Re: Bush's faith-based fiasco, Feb. 26.

    Finally, a concise exposure of how the religious factions in this country are bending -- no, fracturing -- "our long-held doctrine of the separation of church and state."

    I commend the Times for printing the column.

    And speaking of faith, when our president "prays" for guidance in resolving critical issues, that scares me. If he makes decisions based on what his god tells him and not the realities we face in this world, we're in trouble.
    -- Harold Der Garabedian, Madeira Beach

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