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Letters to the Editor

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The RDC

To the Editor:

I have faith in the Riverfront Development Corporation's overall plan ("River of Dreams," April 21st issue) and would like to see most of it come to fruition. While I think they have done a good job with Tom Lee Park, I'm still not sure about the land-bridge idea. However, that is a project that is several years away.

As a moderator of an Internet discussion group on the subject, I've followed the RDC's plans with much interest. I would like more focus from the Flyer on the promenade part of the RDC's plan. It's my opinion that the RDC's plan for this area makes sense. They have forwarded a lot of very good ideas, such as underground parking and a broad walkway area that faces the river.

Another idea I like is using private money to develop that area. I know there is a lot of public skepticism about it, but I think it's the right way to go. Too often, people think that public land is always good and private ownership is always bad. It comes down to whether you want whoever is in charge of the promenade area to have a renter's mentality or an owner's mentality.

While it would be great to fund the project with government money and keep it 100 percent public, the city simply doesn't have the money. A business will make sure the area stays in good repair because they own it and if it goes downhill, they lose money.

I think the Friends For Our Riverfront are misguided in their opposition to this part of the plan. While the promenade area is owned by heirs of our city founders and the city, they have done little or nothing to improve it. I would rather have a privately owned area that makes me proud than an underutilized publicly owned space.

It's too easy to paint the RDC as a big, bad, PR-driven machine. I think they have been very open with their plans. They are on the Web for anyone to see. I think the promenade plan is a keeper.

Andy Ashby

Memphis

Religion and Business

To the Editor:

Recently, Jim Clark, one of the founders of Netscape, was very blunt with a gathering of economic developers and business executives in New Orleans. His message was simple: Religion and business do not mix.

Clark said the federal government's recent religious fervor is hindering the country's ability to develop new technologies and sciences. "Can you name any countries that had religious fervor that were successful?" he asked, adding, "the Taliban certainly weren't."

Microsoft founder Bill Gates echoed Clark with a recent speech to the nation's governors. Gates, however, showed that the problem will get worse because of religion getting into the school systems and its fight to limit science and math education. Gates stated that American kids will not be prepared to compete in the 21st-century world.

Last year, U.S. companies reported to the Department of Commerce that by 2010, as much as 90 percent of their research and development and manufacturing could shift to places such as China and India. The reason? They are having difficulty finding a qualified American workforce. (India last year produced 320,000 engineers vs. America's 70,000.)

In the new world economy, application of knowledge will be vital for prosperity and power. No longer will countries' power come from their natural resources; it will come from their people's knowledge. If Americans want to limit their knowledge to one book, they shouldn't be surprised when the world passes us by.

Aaron Prather

Cordova

Social Security

To the Editor:

Bush's campaigns work like this: Invent a crisis. State only the information (real or not) that benefits your argument and repeat the message over and over until people believe it. After convincing everyone that there is a crisis and marginalizing your opponents, you come up with the "solution" to the crisis you manufactured.

It's not surprising that investing in the stock market would be the solution that Republicans would come up with for their manufactured crisis. It would inject massive funding into corporate America. They couldn't care less that it would be at the expense of a secure retirement for senior Americans.

Investing for retirement would be a challenge for most Americans, who would be novices in the world of stocks and bonds. Many would become easy prey for unscrupulous or incompetent brokers. Bush should know. His brother Neil participated in wiping out the retirement savings of many seniors during the savings and loan scandal in the 1980s.

Dan Merica

Fort Wayne, Indiana

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