Sorting out the truth on energy | Oct. 5, PolitiFact
Costly nuclear power won't take us to the future
In this article, the St. Petersburg Times summarized the present and past positions taken by the two presidential candidates as to how the United States should meet its demands for energy. Unfortunately, one of the solutions proposed by both presidential candidates is nuclear power.
In addition to the well-known health, safety and security risks of nuclear power, constructing new nuclear plants makes no economic sense. Our economic crisis stems, in part, from our continuing to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from China that we give to the Middle East for oil. Building a nuclear power plant is the most capital-intensive means of producing energy, and employs the fewest workers.
We are in an economic crisis requiring huge infusions of capital to keep our country and perhaps the world from economic collapse, and there are far less capital-intensive means of producing energy, such as solar and wind generating units, which can be manufactured and operated on a vastly smaller scale, and decentralized, thereby creating many times the number of American jobs in our troubled economy, for the same investment.
The power companies are promoting nuclear power because their rates (and their profits) are based upon a percentage of their capital investment — the higher the capital investment, the higher profit for the power company.
As pointed out by Dr. Helen Caldicott in her book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, oil (and its byproduct, gasoline) is used to power internal combustion engines in our cars and trucks, and to heat buildings. It does not power the electric grid. (Only about 2 percent of our electricity is derived from oil.) Nuclear power can't help us reduce our oil imports, but spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a few dozen new reactors would divert the resources needed to address our fundamental energy and economic problems. We need to invest in energy efficiency, in solar and wind power, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and in distributed generation and smart electrical grids.
These 21st century technologies are ready to meet our energy needs. Rather than return to the failed energy policies of the 1970s, we can and must do better. Our presidential candidates and the next Congress need to take the steps necessary to effectively address our climate and economic crises, and move us quickly to the nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future Americans want and deserve.
Louis D. Putney, Tampa
Ban may go beyond gays | Oct. 5, story
Amendment 2's effects won't be widespread
I am no lawyer, but the fears of some that Amendment 2 may harm others seem unfounded if one reads the whole amendment. It begins by defining marriage as the "legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife," then continues that "… no other legal union treated as marriage, or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."
Thus, it seems to me that as long as people wishing to receive certain benefits or privileges — such as a roommate's health insurance benefits or the right to visit such a friend in the hospital when sick — it would be quite possible under this amendment, if they do not take any legal steps to be recognized as a "married" couple (as the amendment defines it), even if they happen to be male and female living together as roommates, or something more intimate (or even a same-sex couple).
And as long as a company granting such health benefits, etc., to a friend, or other partner, doesn't consider the two people as "married" in any legal sense, there would seem to be no problem. "Legal status for unmarried persons" is not marriage, as defined in the proposed amendment
The Rev. John B. Kelley, Clearwater
Here we are at another presidential election cycle and as in the past the foolish things spouting from some people are amazing.
First of all the president does not make any laws unilaterally. Congress must vote on and pass a bill before it becomes law. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say if this guy becomes president he'll make this law and that law or if the other guy wins he'll make all kinds of laws. Not so! If it worked that way we wouldn't be living under a democratic republic, we'd be living under a dictatorship.
Talking about bills, you'd think by now the public would know better than to fall for the political advertisements that state that so and so didn't vote for a bill that gives better health care for children or for a bill that increases funding for energy alternatives. These both sound like reasonably good bills and why would anyone vote against them? No bill stands alone today. They all have add-ons and pork that wastes taxpayer dollars and would actually be irresponsible for our representatives to vote for. This is the political gamesmanship that Congress plays and it goes for both parties. Why doesn't the media expose this nonsense?
So please before you think you are ready to vote, look a little deeper into how government works — or in some cases doesn't work — because you can't assume what you see on the surface is the real story.
Neil Wieczoreck, Ocala
High stakes for next president's high court | Oct. 10, commentary
Keep court balanced
Erwin Chemerinsky made an excellent point in his op-ed about the next president and the U.S. Supreme Court. The retiring of one or two of the more liberal justices is imminent in the next four years. As an American, I like to think that we all benefit when the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are fairly balanced in numbers with respect to ideology. Some of the most relevant decisions whose results directly affected American lives have been made by a 5-4 vote. The court must remain balanced, or at least as much as it is now.
As such, I encourage Americans to think about this particular issue in November and the fact that it is liberal justices who will likely retire in the next four years. I want the highest court in my country to be as balanced as it can be, no matter who is president, because we are a powerful but democratic nation and should not strive for our highest court to be at either extreme.
Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park
The next president will probably appoint at least one and possibly two justices to the Supreme Court. That's enough to give any undecided voter some anxiety as they ponder their choice in November.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
Seniors share stories of fraud Oct. 7, story
Protecting our elders
Three cheers and a double bouquet of orchids to Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for her timely beneficial actions for Florida's elders.
By instituting actions, not just the usual well-intended words, to prevent the abhorrent financial abuse of our vulnerable senior population, many thousands will be saved from financial ruin. This top- level state executive has saved Florida millions of dollars since taking office.
We only wish she had control over other areas so that we would not be silent observers of HMOs' theft of millions as well as other poorly managed areas. Elder Care Advocacy of Florida and Associates join millions of Florida's deserving elders in applauding her actions.
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa
Teachers of Glen Cove High, I salute you | Oct. 5, Robyn Blumner column
I hope the teachers Robyn Blumner referred to get to read her column, if only to confirm in their minds the influence teachers have on their students long after they part company. The column can also remind the rest of us teachers how important we are to the health of our society.
I retired from King High International Baccalaureate program in June. My students at King and before that at Hillsborough IB were like those Blumner described: Some were brilliant; others not so but extremely motivated. And if they were not so motivated, their parents were, and the kids very quickly changed their attitude. The students and parents made my job so pleasurable.
Robyn Blumner salutes her teachers. I salute Robyn Blumner.
Frank Entis, Tampa
Teachers of Glen Cove High, I salute you | Oct. 5, Robyn Blumner column
Reading Robyn Blumner's salute to her teachers has inspired me to send thanks to mine, too.
Going to Tyrone Middle School for sixth grade was a frightening experience for a shy little girl in 1980. I can't even imagine how daunting an ordeal it is for kids in today's middle schools.
My science teacher, Mrs. Archibald, introduced me to a universe of wonder, and ever since, I have loved science. One teacher (I am ashamed for not remembering her name) taught us music and humanities. I remember sitting in the portable classroom, getting lost in the beautiful classical music she played for us. Thanks to both of them, and to every other teacher who has helped the education of children.
I think Blumner is correct in her assessment of why some schools are failing now. Teachers are not treated with the respect they deserve by the students, the parents, the taxpayers, and the community.
Adrienne Ruga, St. Petersburg