Below are excerpts of e-mail responses to the Feb. 2 “Twin Pack” questions (an abbreviated version of “Half a Six Pack” and “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) Given that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has proposed tax increases for cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline, and cable television, didn't he have a lot of gall to refer to his opponent in the November election as “Taxin' Tim” (Hagan)? Of course, it's double talk — that's what politicians do best! It never ceases to amaze me that politicians brag they are cutting taxes with one hand (as in, income taxes) while raising them with the other hand (as in, property, tourism, and “sin” taxes). The two things cancel each other out. Boy, I was furious! Taft has made the “tax-and-spend” Dems look like pikers! That plan will make for the biggest exodus out of Ohio by businesses and lots of seniors. Gall? You bet! Was this the first election you saw? You must be tired of bashing Bush and decided to bash Taft! As usual, it's an idiotic question. I hate to admit it, but I have to agree with The Blade's editorial that Taft's ideas are pretty loony. Let's institute the across-the-board sales tax increase, if we must, and move on. Yeah, but at least he didn't say, “Read my lips.”
2) Isn't the beat of the war drum starting to wear you down? (In other words, if war against Iraq truly is inevitable — as in, we're going to do it even if the U.N. objects — why wait any longer?) Yes, let's get over this Iraq thing and move ahead. Right on, brother. Just do it. But, I can think of two reasons to keep up the level of noise: 1) Not enough troops in place yet; and 2) Hopefully, Saddam will get the message and end this mess. You are right, if we have all of the proof we need, what are we waiting for? I do not believe we have enough proof, and maybe that's why Bush is holding off. The scary part of all this is, we are irritating everyone else in the world with our tough-gunslinger talk and go-it-alone mentality. (Speaking of electioneering tactics, see question No. 1, isn't Bush the same one who clearly stated he wasn't into nation-building?) I hold to the belief this is his daddy's war, who didn't finish it when he could have. About the war drum, it has become laughable and feeds into the growing notion about the world that America and Bush, in specific, are warmongers. And worse yet, Bush is painting himself into a corner so that to save face, he'll have to go to war. … Of course, I think the U.S. has about 10 to 15 more serious problems than Saddam and Iraq. I like to contrast the view of the USA from abroad just four years ago. Remember the joyous crowds surrounding Clinton as he visited Ghana, Italy, and Japan? Now, Bush gets greeted by tomatoes, protest signs, and worse. It's not that the world was all that idyllic before (al Qaeda was certainly a threat), but we had much more goodwill around the world. Al Gore was right: Within two years, that goodwill evaporated. Yes. Remember what I told you previously — that the attack needs to happen closer to the election. They remember how daddy was victorious too soon.
The Toledo Federation of Teachers needs a reality check, and its members must work with the school board, administrators, students and parents to clean up TPS's Augean Stable. Not only is it filthy, it's broken. Fix it before picketing. Concerning the 1.48 percent raise demanded by the TPS teachers, you are right on suggesting they should back off for this year. Sooner or later, the taxpayers, even the ones with four generations of strong union blood, will say, “Enough, already.” I read with great sadness and disappointment your “Lemmon Drops” column in The Blade. … I am a single parent who struggles constantly to send my three young children to attend a Toledo Catholic school because I simply couldn't send my child to a clearly inferior school in the dysfunctional lumbering dinosaur called TPS. TPS is a miserable failure and has been for years. The board and administration are primarily to blame, but the parents and citizens of Toledo are also to blame — for tolerating this bungling leadership ineptitude for so many years! The teachers who toil in the schools every day, helping to shape our children's lives, are HEROES. For you to cast blame upon the TPS teachers for standing up for their rights and asking for more money in their pathetically puny paychecks is absolutely shameful. The TFT leadership acts like children. They attack character and never discuss the issues. Threats, intimidation, and coercion are the tactics used on teachers, parents, administrators, and other politicians in our districts. Teachers as individuals may be fine role models, but their leadership is out of touch with them and the community. Bless you for telling the truth. I had to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts this morning after reading your column regarding TPS teachers and our request for a raise. … I was furious over what you wrote. How dare you write that I or any other TPS teacher is being selfish by asking for a raise. It never ceases to amaze me how people think that just because their tax dollars go toward paying part of our salary, they get to determine where, when, and how much we should be paid. Why are teachers suddenly responsible for the financial state of the district and, therefore, undeserving of a raise? Do you really think that TPS teachers have anything to do with the deficits in the district? Do you think we all sit around and think, “Let's screw the children and the public taxpayers and waste, waste, waste money on whatever we can!” Hardly, Mr. Lemmon. Great column. The teachers should be ashamed of themselves, but the union should be more ashamed for urging the teachers to act like petulant children, thinking only of itself (the union thinks of dues). I quite agree with your premise. Good thinking and writing.
Next weekend (Feb. 8-9) will be the first weekend without football since, when, July? The manager of our office here in Toledo, my boss, is in the Air National Guard stationed in Mansfield. He was called up and will report in about a week. He is married with five school-aged children. He will have to serve for a year. He will have to be replaced and lose a significant portion of his income. Although he will get his job back when he returns, it will not necessarily be the same job and may even require relocation. He will also receive six months' pay from the company, but only the difference from his Air Force pay. He figures it will cost him approximately $2,500 per month after the six months is over. He is very stressed over the impending financial picture. I imagine this is a story that is being repeated by the thousands all over the country. Saw an ad in Parade this morning for a Dell PC (personal computer) for $699. Unbelievable. I paid two-and-a-half times that much a little more than three years ago. That's progress for you. I'm off to Cleveland for four days of sales meetings. Do you know how you can tell a sales meeting will be boring? If you walk in the first day and the first slide on the screen says BACK TO BASICS. Keep hammering, Russ. You probably have more allies than you think.