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    Letters to the Editors

    Cheney became prosperous with government help

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 11, 2000

    Re: A decorous debate, Oct. 7.

    The laughter in the audience at the vice-presidential debate seemed inappropriate when Dick Cheney responded that the government had "nothing to do" with the big-time gains from his stock portfolio at Halliburton Co. Whether Cheney realizes it or not, the government and his government service had everything to do with his getting the job in the first place and with the benefits his company received from the administration's vision and successful steering in world trade, especially NAFTA.

    The administration's successful efforts at balancing the budget and developing a surplus of unbelievable size without sending us into a recession helped provide superprofits for many U.S. corporations over the past eight years. Why couldn't President Ronald Reagan do that? Why didn't President George Bush do that? It always amazes me to hear conservatives hammer away at big government while, at the same time, clamoring to obtain the government's (read taxpayer's) money for either pet projects or the assignment of government-financed projects to aid their favorite corporations.

    Mr. Cheney, we appreciate your service for our country, but please don't take us for granted. And we hope that you will somehow find it in yourself to give thanks to a government that has been so very kind to you and many others like you.
    -- Billy Cox, Clearwater

    Revolving-door beneficiary

    I enjoyed the humor in the vice-presidential debate but wonder what was in Dick Cheney's mind when he responded to Sen. Joseph Lieberman's comment that "you are better off than you were eight years ago" by saying that "government had nothing to do with it."

    Cheney was hired by Halliburton Co. after serving as secretary of defense under President George Bush. Need I say more?

    Hail to the great revolving door!
    -- Bob McEwen, Indian Shores

    Good enough to be ticket-toppers

    Re: Cheney-Lieberman debate.

    What a pleasure to observe such a delightful debate spiced with an excellent sense of humor!

    It is a shame both gentlemen are not No. 1 one on their party tickets! May I be allowed another fantasy? How about "both on the same one"?
    -- Miriam P. O'Laughlin, Seminole

    Don't penalize wealthy for achievement

    Why is it that Joe Lieberman has such a problem with the top 1 percent getting a tax break? Those in the top 1 percent are the ones who pay the majority of the tax bill. In this country, people seem to believe that when someone achieves something, someone else must be losing something. This simply is not true. High taxes on the rich do not help the economy; they hurt it. An example would be the luxury tax. The middle class and the poor supported it, and all that happened was that the wealthy people cut back on their purchases, which led manufactures to cut back on production and then led to workers being laid off. So not only does the government loose revenue, but unemployment goes up accordingly.

    This economic expansion started when Ronald Reagan lowered the tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent. Liberals cried that the rich where getting the tax break. Actual government revenues nearly doubled from about $517-billion to $991-billion. If the Democrat-controlled Congress had made the proper spending cuts, who is to say where we would be today.

    For Al Gore to take credit for the economy is irresponsible. At best he did not get in its way. Today we have a Republican Congress, which runs a tight-fisted budget. This with the Ronald Reagan tax cuts of the '80s gives us our current economy.

    Today's political atmosphere says it's okay to inherit your money like the Kennedys, but if you make it by working hard like Bill Gates, you are a villain. Everyone should get a fair share of tax break, whether you are rich, middle class or poor. Men and women should not have to be ashamed or penalized for achievement.
    -- Michael Metzler, Tierra Verde

    Republicans are better for defense

    After watching the debates, one has to come to the following conclusion: The executive experience, leadership ability and integrity of the Bush/Cheney ticket are unparalleled, especially in the area of national defense. This is the one area where Americans absolutely need their government.

    We can feel so much more secure with a president whom foreign leaders can trust to tell the truth and a vice president who understands our military and is candid about its current capabilities. Why would we trust our families, our servicemen and servicewomen and our country to anything less?
    -- Cecilia Burke, Seminole

    Democrats favor middle class

    After reading the Oct. 6 letters to the editor, I have a feeling the listening public misinterpreted Al Gore's debate.

    While it is true he repeated himself a bit, he was only trying to tell the voters what to expect of his opponent. It is a known fact that the Democrats have always been concerned with the welfare of all Americans, and the Republicans are concerned with big business. The Republicans have always favored the rich and not the poor and certainly not the middle class, which always ends up paying for everything.

    The Republicans favor the rich because that's the side their bread is buttered on. I can't see where George W. Bush is any more right than Gore, but I am looking at the whole picture. Who will do the most for us -- the middle class? It certainly doesn't look like Bush has us in mind, so I'm going to stick with Gore and wish him luck.
    -- Judith M. Stevens, Clearwater

    Offer a "none of the above' option

    If we want to maintain our republican form of government while still calling ourselves a democracy, we need to give our citizens an honest feeling that their vote truly expresses their choice of who they want for leaders.

    As has happened in most of our previous elections, a conscientious voter may be faced with a "Hobson's choice." He is often faced with an incumbent who has no opposition, or he is offered two or more choices for a particular office, none of which he feels will truly represent him. So he is coerced into choosing the lesser of the undesirables, or he fails to register or come to the polling place.

    On the other hand, if he had a negative choice, he could send a clear message to the political parties that he does not approve of the candidates they have offered for his vote. With that, he can express his honest opinion. Hopefully, this will encourage each party to seek out and encourage its very best members to run for each elective office.

    As a member of the Florida Silver Haired Legislature, I have submitted a bill for our session in Tallahassee this month that would require each ballot to offer a choice titled "none of the above."
    -- William J. Cichanski, representative, District 50, Clearwater

    Trade deficit is overlooked

    I'm disappointed that neither George W. Bush nor Al Gore addressed one of our greatest problems. For about 25 years, our growing trade deficit in manufactured goods has been closing our factories.

    Besides causing us to be dangerously dependent on imported arms, this caused real wages to fall, which increased the profits of some businesses. Perhaps the candidates didn't mention our trade deficits because low labor costs benefit their biggest campaign contributors. We really need campaign finance reform.

    Al Gore at least admitted that some Americans are not prospering and promised to give the non-rich some help. On the other hand, George Bush would worsen the trickle-up trend with his tax cuts for the rich.
    -- Jack Gregg, Largo

    The drug office responds

    The Scripps Howard News Service story you published on Oct. 5, Drug czar's ad campaign investigated, is seriously in error and damages the reputation of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and its director. Neither the "drug czar" nor the office is a target of "a criminal investigation." In fact, congressional inquiries into expenses associated with the national youth anti-drug media campaign follow the office's aggressive actions to protect the public purse.

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy -- not the General Accounting Office -- is responsible for withholding payment of $18-million to other government agencies and private contractors because the reasonableness and allowability of those costs have not been established to the office's satisfaction. The office hired outside experts to review business plans submitted by a contractor to ensure cost effectiveness. ONDCP first called for an audit when it noticed billing irregularities. The office is transferring contract administration responsibilities from the Department of Health and Human Services to another department in order to scrutinize costs more closely.

    ONDCP welcomes oversight of this vital drug-prevention effort. Since its inception in 1998, adolescent drug-use rates have declined 21 percent. Americans can be proud of the campaign's success.
    -- Janet L. Crist, chief of staff, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, D.C.

    Aiding cultural understanding

    Thank you for the sensitive article, A few coins for the journey (0ct. 9) by Jeanne Malmgren, with photographs by Jamie Francis. Everyone who knew Anh Loan Ly misses her so much! Her little sister is in our Southeast Asian Preschool, and our volunteer tutors are helping the family with English.

    Thanks to your article, more kind-hearted community members can better understand the culture and customs of Southeast Asian families -- and understand more ways to support them in their adopted American environment.
    -- Martha A. Lane, for all the staff and volunteers of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries and the Southeast Asian Preschool, St. Petersburg

    -- Share your opinions
    Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to or by fax to (727) 893-8675.
    They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.
    Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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