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By Times Staff
Published August 12, 2007


Bumped? Tell it to Uncle Sam, column Aug. 8

Good Samaritan passenger steps in

The corporate cold fish that operate the airlines can sometimes be trumped by a good Samaritan.

Last weekend, my sister-in-law was at Tampa International Airport trying to put her 11-year-old nephew on a Southwest flight to Nashville. He was returning to his parents after a vacation here. She was astounded to learn that he had been bumped from his flight, though the reservation had been made months before.

She explained to the airline personnel that he was very young, had never flown alone before and his parents were making a 2 1/2-hour drive to pick him up after his direct flight. The staff explained to her that they would not make any changes and he would have to wait and take a later flight that would involve a multiple-city, circuitous route and would arrive at his destination many hours late.

She pleaded with them. She was frustrated. Then she got angry. She stood in front of the counter and stared at the intransigent airline employees who were putting this child at potential risk and certain inconvenience.

After a staredown without results, a stranger approached and asked her if there was a problem. She explained. He shocked her and said, "My wife and I will give up our seats."

In the rush to get the young boy on the plane she was unable to get the good Samaritan's name and regrets she was unable to send him her deepest thanks.

This is a clear case of the loss of human values by airlines like Southwest in their search for profit.

Arthur N. Eggers, Tampa

Labels trick tots' taste buds Aug. 7

McDonald's and wrapping power

My, how things have changed since I grew up. Who in their wildest dreams would have ever believed that McDonald's could be more successful in getting the kids to drink their milk and eat their carrots? But who are we to argue over their overwhelming mind power, or maybe I should say "McDonald Power," which allows their mission to be accomplished? The McDonald's study, which tricked kids into believing that the food that they were eating was from McDonald's (because of the McDonald-branded wrap), is enough to cause any mother to pull her hair out.

Maybe the solution is for mothers to wrap all of their kids' meals in McDonald's wrap.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Warning about bad Chinese tires comes rolling in Aug. 3

We don't want 'China' style here

In addition to our pet food, toothpaste and whatever else "Made in China" is killing us, now come tires that fall apart when they heat up. What is happening in China is a libertarian's dream. No government regulation or oversight. This is similar to what happened in our country at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Raw capitalism run amok. Government had to implement regulatory laws in order to protect the citizenry from corporate/industrial manslaughter.

So when people extol the simplistic marvels of the unfettered marketplace, think "China." When people promote the simplistic vision of libertarianism, think "China." I don't think we want that here.

George Bickner, Largo

Subprime problems ravage investors Aug. 5

Responsibility is two-way street

A morality tale: A man is standing next to a big rock with his son at his side and he asks the boy if he can hear the sound of a brook. The boy says no, he can't hear anything. So his father tells the boy to stand closer to the rock and to lean his head against it. Just as the boy is doing so, his father smashes his head against it. Rubbing his sore head, the boy asks his father tearfully, why did you that? His father replies, never trust anyone, my son, not even your own father.

I remember that tale every time I hear that someone has been defrauded of his/her life savings by a clever swindler. I think this act involves two parties: one, slick and vulturous, and another, trusting, mentally lazy and foolish. Anyone can make mistakes and suffer the consequences from bad decisions (my father was the victim of a con artist a long time ago), but what really amazes me is that these people will risk their entire life's savings in such foolish scams. When the truth comes out, they end up penniless.

Humberto Calderon, Tampa

[Last modified August 10, 2007, 17:27:25]

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