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    Letters to the Editors

    Protect the aquifer from overpumping


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 20, 2003

    I must say that the charges in your April 13 editorial titled Not in Byrd's back yard are wrong and extreme. I agree that the solution to our water problems may be a regional solution, however, that does not mean we can haphazardly overpump in other well-field areas that have survived past mismanagement.

    Anyone who lives, or has lived, in the Tampa Bay area is well aware of the past "water wars" and the water shortages facing the entire region. We all know the history of bitter legal and political battles among Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and, most recently, between Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa over the millions of gallons of potable water the city has refused to give or sell to the county and has pumped into Tampa Bay.

    While the current status quo may be an improvement from the past, by no means is it perfect. In fact, water shortages became so severe last year that the Hillsborough County Commission placed a three-month watering ban in parts of the county and even considered a building moratorium.

    If we continue pumping too much ground water, our aquifer will inevitably become polluted with salt water and rendered undrinkable. We must keep options such as desalination and reclaimed water open. The effects of just moving on to new well fields with a reckless disregard for the impact on the aquifer will be disastrous. We must weigh our options and do what we can to protect areas that have not been ravaged from being ravaged.
    -- Johnnie Byrd, speaker, Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee

    On a troubling path

    Re: Bush critics rank economic worries over military win, by Philip Gailey, April 13.

    Maybe I'm missing something important, but I just can't seem to wrap my brain around the president's whole economic scheme. Any schoolchild can tell you that you can't spend more than you have or you'll be in big trouble.

    How can anyone justify removing income from the government at the same time you're proposing billions of dollars in new expenses? To cut out massive amounts of tax revenue and then dedicate equally massive amounts to war and its aftermath doesn't make any sense.

    The wealthy in America seem to be managing just fine. The lower and middle classes are the ones feeling the pinch as health care, social services and education funds are sucked away to meet other obligations.

    When you ask yourself what are the most basic, important benefits of an advanced society, you have to answer: health and education. As Americans and as human beings, we cannot function properly without these very fundamental supports in our lives.

    As those of us who have always considered ourselves "solidly middle class" rapidly lose our ability to afford health insurance and prescription drugs, and our public education system is starved by government cutbacks, it begins to look like there is a sinister plan among the wealthy and powerful. Do they want to eliminate us? Are we standing in the way of their ability to own and control everything?
    -- Gail R. Dibble, Gulfport

    Travesty of justice

    Re: The face of a fugitive.

    After reading the April 13 article, I don't think it's fair to give "Joe Brown" any amount of prison time. The other driver was drinking and so was Joe. The police stated that the other driver would have been charged, too, if he had lived. So now everything is put on the driver who lived, and the prosecutors want to give Joe Brown life? This is a travesty of justice and a waste of the taxpayers' money.
    -- George Karvasales, New Port Richey

    Look to Canadian care

    Re: Maybe health care reform will see action when it's featured on ESPN, by David Broder, April 13.

    Broder is right on in this column. The vested interests hold the upper hand, and insured Americans seem to lack real concern for their fellow uninsured citizens.

    Now that the Green Jacket (Canadian wins Masters) has gone North, maybe the policymakers will take a closer look at Canada's approach. Sure it has its problems; what system doesn't? But at least billions aren't wasted by hospitals, insurance companies, drug companies and others to hoodwink the consumers with blatant untruths, and to lobby the legislators to keep the status quo.

    Americans and Canadians have the same health profiles, face the same illnesses, have similarly qualified hospitals and doctors, and the same drug industry. The only issues are who has access, and who pays. In Canada, everyone has access, and the taxpayers pay. In the United States, the insurance industry determines access, because it pays -- and tacks on at least 20 percent for profits and policing.

    And the Canadian system is working, despite the propaganda. Lots of doctors and nurses are making living wages. Everyone is covered. No medical exam, no deductible, no co-insurance, no personal bankruptcies, no premiums.

    There are higher taxes. No one said health care was free. And there are some occasional line-ups. At least everyone is in the line. And by any statistical measure, Canadians live just as long and healthy lives. Is that not the bottom line? Or are corporate profits?
    -- David Knowles, Indian Shores

    About Iraq's future

    Re: An Iraqi's first steps toward freedom, by Hussain Abdul-Hussain, April 13.

    Abdul-Hussain joins a growing chorus of those inside and outside of Iraq who celebrate the collapse of the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein but, at the same time, have reservations about intentions, indeed the ability, of the United States to foster democracy in Iraq.

    The atrocities of the just-crumbled Iraqi regime have barely begun to come to light; yet some "good" Iraqis already, if only subliminally, are trying to explain away the bestialities of the fallen regime by bringing up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Case in point: While hoping that the suicide bombings in Baghdad will soon become a thing of the past, Abdul-Hussain is utterly silent about suicide bombings in Israel. It also makes me uneasy when he admonishes the United States to address the wrongdoings of the Israelis against the Palestinians.

    I wonder: Will the future sovereign democratic government of the Iraqis by the Iraqis and for the Iraqis recognize the equally sovereign state of Israel?
    -- Jerry Rawicki, Seminole

    U.S. support for tyrants

    Re: U.S. must navigate past fog of peace, April 13.

    Wilbur Landrey points out that America's unwillingness to join the League of Nations after World War I was a major factor in destroying that organization. We refused to join to make it strong, and then later condemned it for being weak.

    Now President Bush seems determined to do the same thing to the United Nations. He instead seems to relish the role of unilateral crusader determined to bring democracy to the Middle East.

    Someone should remind him that we really do not qualify to bring democracy anywhere. When Saddam Hussein was fighting Iran, we supported him with "weapons of mass destruction," and when he used nerve gas to wipe out Kurds in 1987, we said very little. In fact, we continued to support him until 1990 when he threatened oil supplies in Kuwait.

    We have a history of supporting dictators and tyrannical kings. We put the Shah of Iran into power in that country; we supported Pinochet in Chile; we supported dictators in Vietnam; we currently support the sheiks in Saudi Arabia -- the country that harbored most of the perpetrators of 9/11. Also, we must not forget Ronald Reagan's sending of arms to Iran. For a long time we have qualified as the world's greatest supplier of arms to all nations, no matter what the nature of the regime.
    -- Graal Braun, Palm Harbor

    Generals deserve it

    Re: At 51,000 feet, generals live the high life, April 13.

    This story talked about how well our four-star generals have it when they fly. The headline's reference to "the high life" would have us believing they are up there at the taxpayers' expense having a good old time. In reality, they are en route to what the article admitted are usually "high stress" situations that I'm sure the average taxpayer would never want to encounter. They are challenged with life-and-death decisions and have to hit the ground running. I for one do not begrudge them one bit of comfort or a good meal of their choice when they are en route.
    -- Mary Miller, New Port Richey

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