USDA pilot program fails to catch contamination | Sept. 9
Time to think vegetarian?
The meat inspection program that the USDA plans to roll out in meat and poultry plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop production of contaminated meat. The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines and replace USDA safety inspectors with their own employees.
But plants operating under this program have experienced some of the worst health and safety violations, including failure to remove fecal matter and partly digested food, according to the USDA inspector general. These contaminants may contain complex strains of deadly E. coli and listeria.
Traditionally, the USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than the health and safety concerns of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of people get sick. Having the USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.
The Obama administration must reallocate responsibility for consumer safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us must assume responsibility for our own safety by considering switching to the rich variety of plant-based meats offered in local supermarkets.
Thomas Carter, Tampa
Syria talks deeply divided | Sept. 12
Obama is no Reagan
Russia, also known as Syria's protector and the one that supplies arms to Syria, is now purportedly in charge of making sure Syria gives up its weapons? Of course Russia will do a great job of scrubbing the war-torn country completely clean of all chemical weapons.
I don't support a strike on Syria, but the way Obama blabbed about red lines being crossed, failing to get support for military action, backpedaling to Congress and ultimately having Putin take over is just disgraceful. Putin is a master on the world stage and has relegated Obama and by de facto, the United States, to a bit player.
How far our incredible nation has fallen on the world stage since Ronald Reagan showed the old Soviet Union who had the real power.
David Coreen, Land O'Lakes
To cut Head Start is to scar state's future Sept. 11
Head Start hypocrisy
According to Barbara Mainster, any cut to Head Start funding would do irreparable harm to the children of Florida.
And yet Education Week reported in December 2012 that any benefits accrued early on through Head Start are erased by the third grade. So why would Mainster paint such a negative picture of the effects of Head Start cuts?
Her own words may answer that question. It seems that Mainster's nonprofit, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, would be lost without Head Start funds. She states, "At RCMA, our trained teachers play with these disadvantaged children and stimulate their minds to help them prepare to learn in school."
So there may be no demonstrable long term benefit to this "investment" of taxpayers' hard earned money, but we should continue to "invest" those funds so that their "trained teachers" can "play with" those children?
Surely no one can argue that is in keeping with the original intent of Head Start.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
Years of tragic waste | Sept. 8
National debt is real
Paul Krugman suggests that our economy would be in far better shape had we only expanded the stimulus program by another $1 trillion dollars, referring to the increase as "modestly higher debt." He apparently is not considering the 60 percent increase of $6 trillion in additional debt we have assumed in the last four years. We will start talking about increasing the debt ceiling again in October.
There appears to be no intention, let alone a plan, by the members of Congress, to ever pay down this debt, only add to it.
Krugman's assessment that "the alarmists' warnings have proven false" and that many economists have fueled "exaggerated fears of inflation and debt" are entirely too presumptuous. Eventually we shall see.
The presumed prosperity we think we have experienced the last few years has been paid for with debt we could not afford. Eventually we will hand the debt to our children and say, here, you figure it out. How selfish and irresponsible can we be?
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Minimum wage wars | Sept. 8
A good wage for some …
People who are working in jobs paying only minimum wage are not supposed to have a family of four. Minimum wage jobs are supposed to be entry-level jobs for young folks just starting out. Those of us who have never experienced the problem of raising a family on a minimum wage waited until we were beyond the entry level before we got married and started raising kids.
Today it seems that some young folks want to quit or graduate from high school, get married, have a couple of kids while living at home with their parents, drive a new car and then complain because they can't do that on an entry-level salary.
Alfred J. D'Amario, Hudson
… but not for others
Low wages are typical for inexperienced employees. But low wages may well be higher than minimum wage.
Today's minimum wage cannot sustain one or two people, never mind three or four, without unnecessary hardship. Many businesses hire for as low a wage as possible, limit hours to avoid paying benefits, and maximize profits for CEOs and stockholders. In today's economy both skilled and unskilled workers often settle for low or even minimum wages.
Prices would indeed rise with a higher minimum wage. But decades of low wages for laborers and high income for corporate executives have not resulted in a higher standard of living for most people. Higher incomes for workers would make it possible for them to consume goods and services they cannot now afford and thus stimulate the economy.
At a minimum, isn't it worth a try?
Robert Palin, Dunedin