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Tuesday’s letters: Our government isn’t responsive to the people

Senateís focus: safety | March 4

American democracy is failing

The checks and balances that once kept our representative democracy from being overrun by the power elite and the extreme political factions they target and manipulate are failing. As the gun debate so clearly illustrates, partisan politics and money are what control legislators on big questions like a ban on assault rifles. The majority of people want it, but big money, big campaign donors and primary systems that favor the most extreme voters make it a major liability for politicians who, for the most part, are just trying to keep their jobs and lucrative connections.

The Supreme Court has become too politicized to check corporations and their lobbyists and gobs of money. They are, after all, reliant on politicians for their lifelong appointments. Once in, they can pursue their expressed ideologies until retirement.

There are many expressions of concern about this sad situation daily in the media, and yet when it comes down to actually trying to fix it, we leave it to the least powerful members of our society, e.g., underpaid workers, single parents, the alternatively gendered and now teenagers. As a result, the United States is an oligarchy in the making.

Jane Sellick, Palmetto

Senateís focus: safety | March 4

Teachers in the bullís-eye

Iím not sure what weapons are being suggested that teachers arm themselves with, but it seems that if they are not wearing body armor with a helmet and equipped with a least an AR-15 they wonít stand much of a chance against an equally armed perpetrator, will they?

Arming teachers is like putting a bullís-eye on them as they will become the primary target. Banning the type of assault weapons such as the AR-15 and rifles similar to them is the first logical step in bringing these tragic occurrences under control.

Jack Burlakos, St. Petersburg

I was Baker-Acted; itís no fix | March 4, Perspective

Guns, not mental illness

It is unfortunate that the writer had such an unhelpful firsthand contact with Floridaís Baker Act. In the interest of some balanced perspective, I would add my comments as someone who worked in a Baker Act receiving facility (theyíre called Crisis Stabilization Units) for over 10 years.

I empathize with the writerís experience. Although CSUs are often understaffed and underfunded, that is no excuse for the fact that the quality of care offered in such facilities is often inconsistent. For what itís worth, in our CSU I believe we endeavored to treat patients well and I am convinced there were many people we were able to help. However, I am also aware that even when we gave our best effort there were individuals for whom we could have no long-term effect.

From different perspectives, the writer and I reach the same conclusion: More restrictive mental health laws and involuntary mental health treatment is not going to address gun violence. Gun violence is not a mental illness problem. It is a gun problem.

Jonathan Jaberg, Largo

A reality check for transit plan | March 5, editorial

Get the basics right first

This editorial is on target. An untested 41-mile rapid transit bus line makes no sense. This needs to be refocused on getting people back and forth from downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Tampa, with a stop at the airport. The dedicated lanes will be a lot easier to implement by staying out of the Wesley Chapel area.

With a shortened rapid transit bus line that connects to the proven and effective downtown streetcars and the ferry line connecting the sister cities on Tampa Bay, we have a solution within our reach. Cut back on the 41-mile route and build up the streetcar and ferry lines. That makes much more sense.

Ivylyn Harrell, St. Petersburg

Trump announces tariffs on steel, aluminum


March 2

Allies, consumers to suffer

President Donald Trumpís latest threat to impose a steep tariff on steel and aluminum imports makes no sense, unless it is politically motivated, diverting attention from special counsel Robert Muellerís investigation into Jared Kushnerís financial dealings and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election.

If Trump follows through with his promise, Americaís closest allies, such as Canada and South Korea, will be harmed by the tariff. Representatives from U.S. steel manufacturers blame their financial difficulties on dumping by Chinaís subsidized companies, but U.S. imports of Chinese metals have been sharply reduced in the past 10 years due to a U.S. tariff on Chinese metals already in effect, the closing of several Chinese metalmaking plants and a current boom in Chinese construction.

The biggest losers from higher imported metal prices will be the aerospace industry, automobile manufacturers, large equipment producers, beverage companies and the U.S. consumer, who will have to pay higher prices for finished goods.

Ultimately, U.S. workers will lose too by an economic slowdown if other countries retaliate by imposing tariffs on U.S. exports.

Henry Weese, Palm Harbor

An unfair exchange

I am no fan of President Donald Trump. However, if you export a car from America to Europe, their import tariffs will add an extra 30 percent to the final cost, plus shipping.

If you import a car from Europe into the United States, you will be charged a tariff of 2.5 percent. Somethingís not quite right here.

John Starkey, South Pasadena