Sunday, April 20, 2008


Recent letters to The Miami Herald have focused on the sub-prime mortgage scandal and the real estate nose dive, the Democratic presidential primary, sexual predators, taxes, media companies, the possible legalization of hand guns in federal parks, the purpose of democracy, abortion, how to teach evolution in public schools, gas prices and global warming.
None of these issues is unique to Miami. Although each generation works through the same arguments about evolution – whether evolution really happened, and how the subject should be taught – the wrangling of Floridians with the teaching of evolution is fresh, and perhaps festering because the state school board just went through that debate.
Then you’ve got your perennial Church and State: Rep. Ed Bullard, a Democrat from Miami, wants to see Florida issue a vanity license plate bearing the words ``I believe’’ and an image of the Cross.
And although local corruption certainly happens elsewhere than in Miami, it comes up a lot in the letters because it is rampant in Miami Dade.
I’m interested in the local controversies: The melee in late February between police and students at Miami Edison High School, the recent governmental go-ahead for construction of a new Florida Marlins Stadium in Little Havana. Then there’s the question of how Miamians feel about the policies of Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti. There’s the question of how some Miamians feel about having people from those nations amongst them.
But I can’t restrict myself to local matters because I wouldn’t begin to approach a full sense of who the Herald letter writers are.

No reason to be concerned by Barack Obama’s lack of experience, said Glenn Huberman of Miami. Obama ``

will choose prudent and competent people to help restore this country’s stature that existed before the current administration destroyed both,’’
Huberman concluded, but not before noting that President Bush ``surrounded himself with people who spent many years in government.’’ Those advisers – Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc. -- ``laid waste to this country’s reputation.’’
Douglas Gonzales of Coral Gables blames ``The National Rifle Association and gun-culture Republicans’’ for the proposal to allow visitors to federal parks to carry guns.
``So will I have to arm my children every time they go out to feel secure? And once everyone has a gun, will the bad guys get AK-47s?... It’s not the weapon that kills you, it’s the element of surprise. To save yourself from an attack you must have your gun in your hand, loaded, cocked and ready to shoot. If being armed really protected us from harm, we would not have 4,000 dead soldiers in Iraq.’’
Tim Bricker of Key Largo asked:
``How long before we start to arm the bears to defend themselves against those with the right to bear arms?’’
Roberto Gonzales put to bed the debate over the morality of buying gas at Citgo, which is owned by the government of Venezuela, which has dictator Hugo Chavez for president.
``I will purchase gas everywhere I can save money, even if the station is owned by Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, Evo Morales, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.’’ That would be no more unpatriotic than being a lobbyist, a corporation or a public official and ``wheeling and dealing’’ with these countries. ``We sell weapons to countries that, down the road, might use them on us… Accountability? None. Profit? Plenty.’’
The Herald heard from officialdom by way of Susan Levin, staff dietitian for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
The Herald’s story, ``Broward Students get a taste of veggie burgers’’ caught her eye.
``I was delighted that the free samples of flame-grilled Gardenburgers were so popular with Everglades High School students.’’
A meatless diet, which excludes soda, fried food and sugary snacks, can help kids avoid heart disease, obesity and some diabetes.
``Young people who add more vegetarian fare to their diet are on their way to a healthy future.’’
Thanks to the Internet, Levin was able to jump right on the Everglade High story.
Also from officialdom, Kathy Mizereck, executive director of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools in Tallahassee, noted that the economic downturn, and tax cuts, mean less money for state colleges and universities in Florida.
Will this result in fewer college grads? ``The simple answer is no,’’ she wrote. The more than 750 licensed private and taxpaying career colleges and schools in the state
``provide practical education and workforce preparation for the 235,000 students attending our schools… Our students look to us for the skills they need to succeed in Florida’s workforce, and because of our low student-to-faculty ratio, they get those skills.’’
Thanks, Kathy.
John D. Johnson of Pembroke Pines said the current talk about global warming is making a great deal over nothing more than a naturally occurring climactic cycle.
``Apparently I missed the moment when planetary pollution rose to the same level of moral gravity as the Holocaust… We shouldn’t be changing policy or scaring the daylights out of schoolchildren just because alarmists need a cause to believe in.’’
In the meantime, everything was idyllic at the mall.
Sabra Brea of Miami wrote in about going to the grand opening of the TJMaxx HomeGoods store in Kendall.

``What a frenzy of buying – people were lined up for a half mile to get there for the 8 a.m. opening. They shopped until they dropped.
``The merchandise was plentiful and well-priced. Lines of people, with carts overflowing, snaked around the store. No sign of a recession there.’’

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