Below are excerpts of e-mail responses to the Sept. 30 “Half a Six Pack” questions (an abbreviated version of “Six Pack to Go”). Each question has five responses from readers. (Sorry, but Russ serves as the “gatekeeper” — he determines the five answers to accompany each question.) In order to make this a reader-friendly feature, some lengthy answers submitted by readers may have been shortened.
1) Because so many people would be reluctant to work there (and for good reason), don't you hope that New York City decides against rebuilding the World Trade Center towers? Touchy-feely liberal garbage already? Of course we rebuild the WTC. And if it gets knocked down, we build it again. The attacks of Sept. 11 will never be duplicated. Previously, a hijacked plane meant sunshine and cheap cigars. This has all changed. Now that hijacking has been redefined, people will not sit quietly by, while the plane is being taken over. Are people reluctant to work at the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower in Chicago (also an intended target)? We have to continue with our lives as before. I really have mixed emotions about this one. I guess it really nags at me that these assassins have destroyed something of ours on our own soil. Something that took seven long years to build and which was reduced to rubble in a matter of minutes or even seconds. So I guess for that reason alone, I'm leaning toward rebuilding. Why rebuild? If the reason is to simply show the terrorists that they didn't succeed, forget it. They did. If they rebuild simply as a sound business decision, just as it was originally when it was built, then that's another matter. To me, that should be the only reason. I say let the people who finance such things do their homework and do surveys, etc., to determine if it would be a successful venture. I don't see an Oklahoma City-type memorial being built (NYC is not OKC), but something needs to be built there, if for no other reason than for symbolism (and because land is too valuable in NYC not to use it). I hope they DO rebuild something, but I hope we've learned something from the incredible loss of life that came from two 110-story buildings falling down. I read somewhere a proposal to erect four 50-story buildings instead … that might be more appropriate. Yes, the NYC skyline has changed and I don't see it ever being the way it was. Perhaps that's the best memorial we will ever have. Being a retired ironworker, I know what it felt like for those who worked on that job. But I do not think a new World Trade Center is a good idea, if for no other reason than putting all your eggs in one basket still applies.
2) Can't convincing cases be made by both sides in the airline-bailout debate? Yes, but … if Southwest Airlines can do without layoffs and schedule reductions, why can't United Airlines and the other big guys do the same? Maybe all the other airline exec's should take turns working the baggage-checking stations for minimum wages, just to see how the real world is. Absolutely. While the failure of the airlines would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, no other industry got similar bailouts. I think that the auto industry, steel industry, etc., would have the right to say, “Hey, wait a minute.” I'm definitely NOT in favor of bailing out the airlines. We don't normally travel and fly a lot but have done so more often in the past few years, and it is not a pleasant experience for many reasons. We are held hostage by these greedy people, changed too much for fares, one person paying one price which differs from their seatmates, subjected to long lines, poor food, cramped conditions. If flying the friendly skies had been made more comfortable to the paying customer a long time ago, I'd feel differently. If they go broke, the heck with ‘em — I'll stay home. No doubt about it. But bailing out an industry that was close to bankruptcy prior to this catastrophe, and with very few strings attached, is a handout — and I venture to say it will not be repaid. Hope I'm wrong. It seems like we're being rushed into something that we're going to regret later, doesn't it?
3) If you were advising the new terrorist czar, wouldn't you tell him that we are being too “reactive” regarding airline safety and not “proactive” enough regarding other possible means of attacks? I agree, and have been saying this to my friends. The terrorists have got our attention; now, they'll try something else. In any business, crisis management is the rule of the day.; I know — I'm a retired TPS teacher. The airline safety is obvious. I think we need just a little time to figure out what else we have to do. Will this get into the area of infringement of personal liberties? I honestly don't know. This is the job that Tom Ridge has to tackle. What a headache he must have. All of the administration's hoopla about a quick fix by a Homeland Security Office hints of propaganda and, in reality, will be just another bureaucracy to get in the way. We'll see. I only know what I read in the paper and hear on radio and TV. Since the airlines seem to be the vehicle of choice for terrorists to move about the country (and world), I think the more security the better. I don't know what other “proactive” moves are being made with respect to other modes of transportation, our water supplies, power grids, etc. Hopefully, they are being addressed. I think telling the world (including the terrorists) what we're doing, or are going to do, via the media, is providing our “enemies” with all the intelligence they need to hit us again where and when we don't expect it. Sometimes I wonder which side CNN is on. What we are doing with airline safety is proverbial “barn door” closing, but things that should have been done ages ago. Is it arrogance, stupidity, or excessive frugality in an effort to make more money — or perhaps all three?
Let's not overdo this “generation” thing. Troops on the line are in their teens and 20s, being led by those in their 30s and 40s. The nation is being led by those in their 50s and 60s, and older. So what “generation” are we talking about? This is the greatest “country” — period. You are right about nowadays. I think the younger generation is more interested in themselves and how much fun would be lost if they had to go to war. With all the liberal teachings in schools and the “Jane Fondas” of some of the media, I would be hard-pressed to believe that we could muster up a group of young people to fight for our country. Although “things” are worse now with regard to behavior of our younger people, I have every confidence that there are the same number of them, proportionally, who will do their duty competently as there has always been. There has been a good response to signing up, given the fact that we have a faceless/country-less enemy. This war's heroes will likely be within our borders as well as elsewhere. I am fearful that too many innocents will become victims on all fronts. So much needless waste. Comparing the current generation to the memory of the WWII generation is unfair and deserving of a little scrutiny. The WWII generation was coming out of a depression. Was military service a duty or a job opportunity>? There is a school of though that FDR allowed this country to be attacked to boost the economy. The current generation is (was) in an economic boom time and is a little spoiled. The WWII generation was not exposed to the elitists on college campuses. Many of these elitists never had a real job and have no concept of reality. What history shows is that human nature has not changed in several thousand years. I had reactions to recent events similar to those of the readers you quote in today's column. The sight of people gassing up the night of Sept. 11 was disturbing, but if I hadn't had a full tank myself, would I have joined them? I don't know. Here's a point about “the greatest generation” compared to today's young people: The men and women who saved the world 60 years ago were raised during the Depression and were used to the privations which that maybe-not-so-terrible catastrophe imposed on them. Sacrifice wasn't new to them. You have to be at least in your 70s to have a clear memory of living like that. Can even the movers and shakers today, let alone the youth who will do any of our fighting, draw upon a similar source of strength now? This is a point made before, no doubt, but still worth thinking about.
Unfortunately Russ, I will disappoint you, as I am for suspending a lot of our liberties until the menace is controlled. Wasn't it insensitive of the 4,000 or so peace marchers to do so in Washington (last) weekend? I may be a liberal and proud of it, but I'm not a part of the radical left. This country has been asking for something like this for some time — acting like “policemen,” big shots, like no one can get us, being too lax about everything. We were worried about freedom and rights, which is fine, but we have to put up with some things and inconveniences if we want to remain free and safe. You don't waltz through foreign airports with no one checking you out — armed guards are patrolling all over — like you can here. If we're not careful, the United States could end up in a police state. Nobody wants that, but that's where we're headed if cooler heads don't prevail. I didn't agree with the decision originally, but I'm glad the NFL didn't play the weekend following the terrorist attacks. I'm glad the games are back now — it's a nice break from all of the news coverage.
Russ Lemmon's column appears Sundays. Readers may contact him at 1-419-724-6122, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.