Sweet deal for sugar growers | Aug. 25, Washington Post editorial
Corporate profits drive policies
Sustaining corporate profits through politics is nothing new for the sugar industry, or most any large corporate entity that has a strong congressional lobby.
My question is this: Why has the United States maintained a trade embargo against Cuba? We have opened trade with most of our former enemies, whether those conflicts were cold or bloody. Cuba's No. 1 export other than cigars was sugar. However, while people can still get illegal Cuban cigars by bringing them from other countries, there is not much sense bringing in a suitcase full of sugar.
The Cuban embargo has morphed into a political football, thanks to South Florida's Cuban expatriates, with cheerleading by the Republican Party. Could that cheering have been influenced (i.e., funded) by the sugar industry? The sugar corporations have, according to the Washington Post, managed through politics to secure their 85 percent of the market. Neither Cuba nor any other country is a threat to Big Sugar now.
Now we read that food manufacturers are up in arms because the tightening of sugar supplies has driven up the cost of refined sugar. I wonder how much was spent by Big Sugar to convince manufacturers that they need to increase the amount of sugar in their products?
Are manufacturing influences by corporate entities to sustain profits really new? The automobile industry fought tooth and nail to resist being forced to produce automobiles that achieve higher mileage. Again, I wonder how much influence Big Oil had over that resistance. When gas prices rose to over $4 a gallon, the auto industry must have felt abandoned by Big Oil, and the auto guys are now scrambling to produce high-mileage vehicles.
To me, it is obvious why health care reform (the public option) is being fought tooth and nail by Big Insurance.
Henry Heitler, Tampa
In need of cash, city turns to gun sales Aug. 24, story
Police sales of seized, old guns are not unusual
This article from the Los Angeles Times told of a situation that may have been surprising to those in La-La Land, but certainly not to the majority of Americans. Colorado Springs found that it could bring in an additional $10,000 in city funds by selling to gun dealers the weapons they had confiscated from criminals.
Confiscated firearms are routinely sold to gun dealers and gunsmiths all across the country. The police agencies also trade in their old guns to the dealers when they buy new ones. A police trade-in is a good value, having been well maintained, and sells to the public for most of its original price.
A relative handful of large municipal police departments are required to "melt down" confiscated guns by order of their political bosses. In most towns, unneeded guns are sold outright or sold for parts.
Gerry Puterbaugh, Seminole
Politics of the jackboot | Aug. 21, E.J. Dionne column
E.J. Dionne has evidently not thoroughly investigated this single event. The citizen in the picture that accompanied his column (and others doing the same) was asked why he had carried his weapon to the protest. He stated that he was just exercising his rights while he can still can.
Dionne also didn't mention that it is legal to carry openly in Arizona without a permit. All of the people who did carry that day were peaceful and law-abiding. Ask any of the police who were at the scene, who were also asked about the display and had no problems with any of these people.
While I can agree that it "may" be going a little too far to express your opinion in such a way, I disagree that it is a problem or wrong.
The NRA hasn't said anything because no laws were broken, no trouble ensued, and the point was well taken.
Kenneth Buck, Clearwater
Circumcision a way to fight HIV? | Aug. 24, story
Discrimination and HIV
This article on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's proposal to recommend circumcision as an HIV preventative noted that circumcision seems to be of little effect in reducing the rate of HIV infection in men who have sex with men.
A study recently released from Emory University has demonstrated that in jurisdictions/states where there is discriminatory legislation against gays, it is followed by an increase in the HIV infection rate. The converse is that in states with policies supporting same-sex unions, there is a decrease in the rate of HIV infection.
Rather than looking to circumcision to help control HIV infection rates, why not consider ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity?
Penny Duff, RN, St. Petersburg
WWLBJD? | Aug. 25, commentary by Tom Johnson
Johnson's risky example
Given President Lyndon Johnson's landmark domestic achievements (Medicare and a Civil Rights Act, to name two), it's hard to disagree with Tom Johnson that LBJ would probably get a health reform bill passed by Congress this year.
But emulating President Johnson is a risky business. Despite LBJ's crowning domestic achievements, his vision of a Great Society was derailed by his dogged pursuit of an unpopular war, a war that his own secretary of defense admitted he knew at the time was "not winnable." I recall those days when Gen. William Westmoreland regularly appeared on television, talking about how he could see "the light at the end of the tunnel" called Vietnam. All he needed was one more increase in the troop level to get the job done.
Now I hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tell how the war in Afghanistan is "deteriorating," and how one option is for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American commander there, to ask for troops in addition to those recently sent there by President Barack Obama. And I wonder . . .
John A. Jackson, Indian Rocks Beach
National energy policy
Clean energy available
If the real objective of our nation's "energy plan" is to reduce our reliance on foreign oil as well as our "carbon footprint," the answer doesn't have to be complex.
Natural gas can provide the cleaner energy necessary to power larger vehicles. Fleet vehicles, buses, midsized trucks and even farm equipment can be economically operated on natural gas. The distribution system is already there, reducing the need for large tankers on our roads. Inventory controls and record-keeping should be easier for the companies, cities and states that utilize a domestically produced product.
Our domestic truck manufacturers should offer better natural gas engines.
Fifteen years ago, in Europe, I saw cars and trucks running on natural gas. It was readily available at most fuel stations.
If our future depends on reducing emissions and cutting dependence on others for energy, then we better get on the stick and do all we can.
It should be noted that many companies have utilized natural gas already for their vehicles. This should be part of our nation's policy to reduce our carbon footprint and support a domestic energy source.
George Steffener, Gulfport