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    Letters to the Editors

    Florida needs laws prohibiting cell-phone use

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001


    Re: A phone rings; suddenly, a man lies dead, April 26.

    What a tragedy! Unfortunately, there are no laws here in Florida pertaining to the prohibition of cellular phone use while driving.

    Until these laws are produced, perhaps a simple bit of help in prevention might be a traffic sign directing one to pull over and stop within a proscribed parking place, then use their cellular phone.

    Perhaps the DOT could consider and do this within their present budget. We must do something and very quickly!
    -- Harold Zallis, Palm Harbor

    Cell phone ringing? Just pull over

    Re: A phone rings; suddenly, a man lies dead, April 26.

    It really is a shame that it took a fatal auto accident to finally expose the hazard drivers engaged in cell-phone use pose to society. They are a menace to the road, and an accident waiting to happen. Let the record show that I cast my vote to ticket any driver who is engaged in apposing activities while operating their vehicle.

    If your cell phone rings or you need a sip of water (or whatever the case may be), just pull over to the side of the road. It is a matter of life and death.
    -- JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

    Blurring the troubling details

    Re: Florida crime still falling, April 24.

    During a recent photo-op, Jeb! declares, "Florida is a safer place," and takes credit for this wonderful statistical trend. He touts the 10-20-Life law passed two years ago by the Florida Legislature, which is aimed at people who use guns during the commission of a crime.

    However, by lumping together all crimes into one statistic, Jeb! gets to blur over the more troubling details.

    Statewide, the murder rate is up 4 percent, while car theft is down 4.7 percent.

    Jeb! believes losing your car is the statistical equivalent to losing your life. Talk about fuzzy math.

    Besides, the crime rate nationwide has been dropping since 1988.

    A more telling statistic may be the low rate of unemployment. According to Bob Dillinger, Pinellas-Pasco public defender, "I think the economy probably has more to do with it than anything."

    Jeb! disagrees. He points out that the national crime rate increased during the mid-1980s when the economy "was good." I guess he conveniently forgot the unemployment rate back then was sky high.

    If Jeb! wants to credit a state law passed two years ago for a national trend that began when his father was president, his chances for re-election must be slipping fast.

    No wonder he wants to leave the voting machines just the way they are.
    -- David Lawrence, Tampa

    Our trickle-up economy

    Re: Hearts and heads globally, April 24.

    Paul Krugman is right when he said that stopping imports from Bangladesh won't help workers in Bangladesh. But it will help workers in the United States. It is well known that imports of manufactured goods have caused many American factories to close, thus destroying millions of well-paid factory jobs and well-paid service jobs that were supported by manufacturing. Our real median wage has been falling for most of the last 30 years. The falling wages reduced the purchasing power of most Americans, but the falling labor costs tended to raise business profits. Thus, we've had a trickle-up economy.

    I believe most of the demonstrators at Quebec were concerned about American workers growing poorer.

    Some of the demonstrators may have worried about the effect of trade on the environment; long-distance transport of goods burns more fuel, thus putting more carbon dioxide, etc., into the air. Also, each exporting country tends to minimize prices by minimizing its pollution-control regulations.

    Some of the demonstrators may have been concerned that our de-industrialization leaves us dangerously dependent on imported arms.

    Some of the demonstrators may have been business owners whose losses, due to the impoverishment of their customers, exceeded their gains from lower labor costs.

    I think very few of the demonstrators were foolish enough to think that trade hurts workers in countries (like Bangladesh) that export more than they import.
    Jack Gregg, Largo

    Why John Doe can't get a job

    John Doe started the day early, having set his alarm clock (made in Japan) for 6 a.m.

    While his coffee pot (made in China) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (made in Hong Kong). He put on a dress shirt (made in Sri Lanka), designer jeans (made in Singapore) and tennis shoes (made in Korea).

    After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in India), he sat down with his calculator (made in Mexico), to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (made in Taiwan) to the radio (made in India), he got in his car (made in Germany) and continued his search for a good-paying American job.

    At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (made in Brazil), poured himself a glass of wine (made in France), and turned on his TV (made in Indonesia), then wondered why he can't find a good-paying job in AMERICA.
    -- George Harbin, Homosassa

    No child should go to class hungry

    Re: Breakfast program in the schools.

    Problem: A hungry child is a hungry child, regardless of whether his parents are on welfare, middle-class or wealthy.

    The free breakfast program in schools is a wonderful program as far as it goes. Parents who want their children to have breakfast in school must fill in an application stating their circumstances. If they qualify, their children may participate in the free breakfast program. If they do not qualify, they still may participate but the parents must pay a fee for their breakfast.

    If you ever have visited a family where both parents are employed, mornings are hectic. In order to get to the school bus on time, children must get up by 6 o'clock in the morning or earlier. Children are sleepy and either not inclined to eat so soon after getting up or do not have time to eat breakfast. Many children -- and even those whose parents are well able financially to furnish breakfast -- are too hurried in the mornings to eat. They become ready and hungry for breakfast after the bus ride and upon arriving at school, but if they are not "on the list," they go to class hungry.

    Now, how do the children feel? The ones who are entitled to have a free breakfast feel one of two ways: privileged because they are entitled to something others are not or slightly ashamed, stigmatized because they are on a "poor" program.

    The children who have breakfast because their parents want them to and pay for it actually pay twice because those parents have already paid their taxes that make the breakfast program possible in the first place.

    Solution: A free breakfast program should be free to any child who is hungry and wants it.

    As far as the expense of the program is concerned, it would probably cost less in the long run. With all children entitled, there would be no need for paper work for qualifying or for hiring those who make those decisions. Eliminating those costs would offset the cost of additional breakfasts. Also, since breakfasts are prepared on an "as-needed" basis, there would be no waste.

    All children should be treated on an equal basis. No child should be allowed to sit in class hungry until lunch time.
    -- Florance Hooper, Gulfport

    Don't let him be a martyr

    Timothy McVeigh is intent on becoming a martyr. Why give this worthless scum what he wants? Put him in solitary for the rest of his unnatural existence. Let him get his punishment daily, hourly, monthly, yearly!
    -- Dick Stannard, St. Petersburg

    A suggestion for testing the Osprey

    Re: Panel says, Osprey worth the effort to fix it, April 19.

    I have a suggestion for Mr. Augustine and the other members of this panel who are so gung-ho to go ahead with testing of this aircraft, which already has a reputation as a "widow maker." Whenever one of these planes takes to the air, it should be carrying a member of the panel, or a member of his family.

    The same thing applies to the military and civilian Pentagon staffers and the defense contractors who stand to profit from it. If they are so confident of the integrity of this program, they should have no objection to that. In addition, participation in these test flights by any military personnel should be strictly on a voluntary basis. No one should be ordered to risk his or her life on such an unproved aircraft until it can be certified to be as safe as any other plane in our inventory.
    -- Gerald A. Daigle, Spring Hill

    Beer's size, not a concern

    I'd like to thank the proponents of the 1965 Florida Beer Container Law. In their arguments against repeal of this decades-old law, they have argued that the law is needed to protect consumers from confusion they may face when confronted with a variety of sizes on the display shelf.

    The current law prohibits any beer to be sold in the state of Florida unless it is in an 8, 12, 16 or 32-ounce container -- nothing more, less or in between. Repeal of the law would allow beer to be sold in containers in any size less than 32 ounces. While I appreciate the concerns of fans of the 1965 law as to my potential confusion, I suspect I will be okay on this one.
    -- Allyn House, Largo

    Gestapo-type treatment is alarming

    Re: E-mail attracts Secret Service, April 18.

    How can an article of such underlying importance be on page 6B? I would hope that a newspaper would think an infringement on free speech to be more important.

    This woman's e-mail, which was printed in full in another publication, was no more threatening than Rep. Allen Trovillion's statements to gay students that God would destroy them and that they would suffer the consequences of their actions. While I haven't heard of any actions to Trovillion for being ignorant, this woman was visited by two Secret Service agents. The agents photographed her, persuaded her to sign a waiver so they could check her medical records and searched her house.

    Ironically, this gestapo-type treatment seems more likely to have been the result of her e-mail blaming Trovillion for his helping to "appoint a dictator to the White House." While it's immaterial whether anyone agrees with her political opinions or with Trovillion's anti-gay opinions, the attempt to stifle her from speaking out by acts of intimidation should be a concern to everyone.

    Excuse me, there's someone knocking at my door!
    -- Dan Favero, St. Petersburg

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