As proud parents, you start every day praying that your son survives the Iraq war to liberate people who hate us, based on a false threat that never existed. You have been working two low-paying jobs (small business owners' establishments) just to make ends meet because the job you worked for 20 years was eliminated and now is serviced in India.
And that was a hardship, but you made it until your wife developed respiratory problems from poor air quality due to lax environmental laws on industries in your area. Then the small-business owner you work for cannot afford to provide you health care, and the cost of the prescription drugs your wife needs is depleting your life savings. You try to look for cheaper medication, but none is available.
Out of desperation, you look to file bankruptcy, as one of the small businesses you work for has done several times and rebounded without debt.
But you find out that as a person, you are now responsible for the debt even though you have been fiscally responsible your whole life.
Now there is nothing to look forward to except retirement, which is now at age 67 (or higher), and even if you are healthy enough to work at that age, Social Security has been raided and invested in losing stock in a rocky economy, which of course six years later is still Bill Clinton's fault. Go GOP!
STEVEN C. PRICE
Despite record tax breaks for the wealthy and several recent congressional wage increases, the Senate voted this month to keep the minimum wage at its pre-1996 level. This vote highlights the ever-increasing influence corporate America is having on our governmental policies.
Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi's comment on the Senate floor that "mandated minimum wage hikes will not cure poverty or create jobs" reveals the utter contempt he and other members of our elitist government have for the working class.
If Senator Enzi really wants low-income workers to believe he has their interests of in mind, he needs to visit these hard-working people at their jobs and explain it's for their own good that their wages remain low.
Raising the minimum wage by $1.10 an hour would not have hurt low-income workers or eliminated entry-level jobs. But it would have helped these workers and their families maintain a minimal standard of living that is being decimated by high energy costs, reduced access to health care, and a continual increase in the cost of living.
It's time Congress put the needs of the working class ahead of the whims and wishes of corporate America.
JOSEPH P. SCHUCH
How exciting that Paula Pennypacker still has a keen interest in downtown Toledo. While Ms. Pennypacker was an active politico in town, I found that I often admired her tenacity for spurring discussion on "real" issues.
With respect to her recent comments in a Forum letter, she enlightens the readers to the planning deficiencies in her new "adopted city" of Scottsdale, Ariz., where, as she informs readers, "bar-ification" has made the Scottsdale entertainment district look like a redlight or adult-entertainment district.
The Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission and the City of Toledo, along with developers like Mac McCarthy, Mecca Development, and the Toledo Warehouse District Association, have all taken positive steps to prevent the negative scenario Ms. Pennypacker describes in Scottsdale.
To continue this exciting development in Toledo's warehouse district, a master plan for the district will be completed and a critical eye to the current downtown master plan must be the norm.
The current investment of millions of dollars in the warehouse district has indeed set the standard for a family-friendly community that interacts well with its business and entertainment neighbors.
It was generous of Ms. Pennypacker to invite us all to Scottsdale. I would like to return the favor and invite her back to Toledo and embark on a tour that I will personally lead, to show her the valuable development and excitement she has missed by her absence from her hometown.
Toledo Warehouse District Association
The recent Supreme Court decision not to allow juveniles to be executed is the most positive ruling to come down from the high court in quite some time.
Our courts are filled with "grownups" who find it difficult to always make adult, mature, and knowledgeable choices, so how can we demand that our 11, 12, and 13-year olds, be held responsible for theirs and be tried as adults? They are children!
For a country that is considered the leader of the "free world" this concept is appalling and is a "human rights" disaster.
Realizing that many of these juveniles commit heinous and brutal offenses that must be punished, the penalties must fit the age and circumstances of the perpetrator.
We feed our children nonstop access to all forms of violence and negative behavior, then we expect them to consciously always know the difference between right and wrong.
When an adolescent commits crimes against society, it's normally our families, schools, courts, and the rehabilitation systems that have failed them. We must remember our most valuable commodity is our children, not oil. Lets spend $87 billion on them.
We are hearing a lot about jobs, some leaving the city, some about to leave, and, hopefully, some to be retained and/or come to our area.
Our political leaders talk about all the incentives being offered to companies to locate here or stay here. But it seems all the discussion is for the large companies such as Jeep and Jeep suppliers.
We need Jeep and large employers like GM Powertrain, etc., no question. But the real growth of our community, and this is true for the entire country as well, is in small business.
I have to ask what, if anything, is being done to spur the growth or even the start-up of small businesses? For every Jeep with several thousand employees, there are thousands of small businesses with one to 100 employees. Many of these businesses have one owner who has everything that he owns at stake. If the business should fail, the owner loses everything.
When I think of our experience with the city of Toledo, its politicians, and bureaucrats, I can only shudder and wonder why we built our new building on Lewis Avenue three years ago.
We received no help from the city, nothing but increased unplanned costs to comply with the desires of the different bureaus we had to deal with, who then tried to shut us down - this after we were operational for 30 days and had all permits, inspections, and our occupancy permit.
I strongly feel that small business deserves some consideration and should not be ignored. Incentives, tax breaks, and assistance should not all be directed to the large employers.
Our experience would indicate that since we are small it doesn't matter if we have to close up shop because of bureaucratic screwups, and lay off our 14 employees.
DONALD W. GORRELL
Stoll Rug and Furniture Cleaners
After reading about the long-time efforts of the Greek Church to demolish the useless buildings on Summit Street, and considering the difficulties Fifth Third Bank had obtaining permission to demolish the adjacent buildings so that it could operate effectively, I wonder why anyone would invest any money in downtown Toledo.
It seems that all business decisions are subject to the control of people who don't participate in the business world but insist on controlling the lives of those who do.
EDWARD VAN GUNTEN
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