State seeks to tap bottlers | March 2, story
End the free ride for water bottlers
The overgrowth problem in Florida has an impact on every service provided to residents. Residents are charged for their water use based on the quantity they use. Restrictions are applied when there is a downturn in the yearly rain. Penalties are placed on those who do not comply with the restrictions.
Overgrowth affects the availability of roads, schools and all services required by today's society. It especially affects the availability of water for drinking and for other domestic uses including the growing of food, which is of primary importance.
The cost of recycling water and desalination plants is incurred largely due to the combination of uncontrolled development, waste and free water to industries that draw water strictly for profit.
Companies that profit from the use of Florida's finite natural water resource have been getting a free ride. It is true that these bottled water companies create jobs, but there is a level of diminishing returns that cannot outweigh the water crisis, which grossly affects any continued plan for reasonable growth within the state. Florida's future depends upon the control of water use by all industries.
Not only will the taxing of the bottling industries decrease the uncontrolled loss of residential sources, but it will also help the state economy afford more for schools and other services required to maintain a better quality of life for Florida residents and other industries.
David H. Marshall, Odessa
State should benefit
It is about time our state representatives realize that water is a valuable resource, and hooray for Gov. Charlie Crist to propose a tax on companies pumping it and selling it at huge profits.
We could learn from our oil suppliers in the Middle East and begin to charge such companies by the barrel, bringing money home to Florida. We remain in a drought yet companies continue to pump our water and take it elsewhere. When some counties become giant sinkholes, it will be too late and we will have nothing.
Support Charlie Crist and let's stop the pumping without the benefits to our state citizens.
Jim Thompson, Oldsmar
A business for Florida
How long have our politicians been giving away our water resources for free? We have drought conditions, overdevelopment and draconian water restrictions only to find that Nestle, Coca-Cola and others are siphoning millions of gallons of our spring water a day at no cost to them and selling it for huge profit.
Pray tell me, what do we Floridians get out of this deal except the privilege of picking up their waste in the form of billions of polluting empty plastic water bottles?
A tax of 6 cents per gallon is too easy. It's our water. The state needs to go into the water business itself. Bottle it, label it as pure Florida spring water and we can keep the profit for our state needs. To do anything less is a ripoff of our resources.
Gary West, St. Petersburg
On race, blacks are cowards, too | March 1, Bill Maxwell column
Rules and attitudes on marriage have to change
Bill Maxwell is correct that blacks must address the problem that between 70 percent and 80 percent of black children are born to single mothers. My great-grandson is one of those children, which gives me a right to participate in this debate.
But this is a problem for American society, not just blacks. According to one study, 42 percent of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock. Three of my grandchildren consider themselves Puerto Rican, so this number also greatly concerns me. Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of our population, which means that this problem is only going to get worse. Some 27 percent of white children are illegitimate, a term which must again come into use.
We must reform the rules of marriage and tighten the rules for divorce to correct this problem. As Maxwell notes, children born to single mothers are far more at risk of poverty and poor grades, suspensions and expulsions at school. This leads to future problems with unemployment and underemployment. Liberals are just as stubborn as conservatives in denying the rules of evolution. We evolved to be raised by two biological parents and there are additional problems when we are not.
Single motherhood may sometimes work for upper-middle-class women, but it is a disaster for the poor. Unfortunately both rich and poor must play by the same rules, so we must change current rules and cultural attitudes to assist the poor.
Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg
On race, blacks are cowards, too | March 1, Bill Maxwell column
Context is needed
Bill Maxwell's overarching theme regarding nihilistic behavior in the black community is a point well taken. Unfortunately, he continues to write articles with broad, unqualified statements and generalizations without context while obscuring the fact that many African-Americans lead productive and positive lives. Maxwell mentions the 70 or 80 percent of black out-of-wedlock births and the deleterious effects of hip-hop.
Context is important and necessary lest some surmise that blacks are simply inferior. For example, the criminalization of drugs has largely been an attack on black and poor communities and families. When rich people succumb to drugs, they simply go to rehab. Poor people go to jail. Fractured families are not just a black problem; in 2007, over half of Iceland's children were born out of wedlock, according to the National Statistical Institute of Iceland.
It is interesting to note that the black family unit was stronger during slavery and segregation as opposed to today's statistics. For example, read The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925, an excellent study by Herbert Gutman.
The distasteful array of music that young kids are force-fed by corporate-owned conglomerates rather than local community stations should not be an indictment of all hip-hop. Perhaps Bill Maxwell should heed the words of an old rap group called Arrested Development when they sang, "And to think blacks spend all that money on big colleges and still most of y'all come out confused."
Dr. Keith Berry, professor of history, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa
Student aid going untapped | Feb. 23 editorial
A student's responsibility
The editorial speaks of Florida's students, especially those from low-income families, being "shortchanged, leaving huge sums of federal grants on the table by not applying for them." That's not "being shortchanged." They are shortchanging themselves.
In the first sentence the editorial writer gives away two unstated messages: 1) today's students needing financial aid are helpless victims; and 2) the students are incapable, without systemic change in policies and practices at Florida's schools and colleges, of seeking and finding a share of the millions in aid that's available.
I worked for 40 years with colleges and schools in several states, including Florida, and I know there's more than enough help available — classroom teachers, deans, assistant deans, counselors of every description — well-trained and eager to help. I invariably found such individuals to be dedicated, hard-working professionals.
With or without their help, though, it's ultimately the responsibility of individual students and their families to find and apply for financial assistance. (And without complaining about how difficult the application forms are to fill out.)
If a student doesn't have the gumption to ask a teacher a simple question — "What do you think is my next best step in finding financial aid that matches my needs" — that student has a not-very-promising future in any area of study or work.
What's more, if I wanted to search out information on just about any subject, including financial aid, who would I trust to help me go after it? Just about any 17-year-old (that is, a master Googler). I rely on our grandchildren for such help all the time.
Bob Armbruster, Seminole
If you battle Rush on his turf, you lose March 5, Susan Estrich column
Limbaugh at least is candid
Like him, hate him, Rush Limbaugh has stood the test of time. His commentary is flamboyant, entertaining and decidedly one-sided. Here's where his detractors (the mainstream media) just don't get it: It's commentary. Rush and his popular radio counterparts give us their opinion. They boldly state that their message is conservative commentary. Where the predominately liberal media miss the boat is they mask their left-wing message and sell it as news.
Once upon a time the only source of news that entered one's home around here was via the St. Petersburg Times on our doorstep or the fatherly Walter Cronkite on the tube — and God knows neither one of those bastions of truth would ever put their spin on the news, right?
It's time for the mainstream media to wake up and smell the Starbucks. With so many news outlets available, those of us who give a darn will look for some source of truth, or at least someone like Rush who has the courage to say this is who I am and this is what I believe. What so many fail to understand is the right-wing tripe that Limbaugh spews daily is the flip side of what we get from most media outlets — without the left-wing disclaimer.
Mark Campbell, St. Petersburg
A needed viewpoint
Thank you for presenting the insightful, entertaining and satirical columns by the highly observant Garrison Keillor. In the view of many, his messages are far overdue in the face of right-wing columnists and talk radio hosts, who have monopolized newspapers and airways beyond all reason and for an excessive period of time.
Thanks to the St. Petersburg Times for seeing a need to present more than one point of view. Let us hope the trend continues.
Lou Hunter, Clearwater
Working together | March 2, letter
A balanced approach
I find the logic in this letter, justifying a Republican Party focus on business, to be tortured. The letter writer states that this policy is justified because: "The GOP does care about workers, because they care about business. Without business there would be no need for workers."
The contrary argument can be made: that without well-trained workers who earn an income sufficient to buy goods and services, businesses would have neither customers nor product, and would soon fail.
I believe that this fact serves to support a more balanced approach. Employment is not a benefit bestowed by business benevolence on workers; it is a contract requiring mutual responsibilities. Improved education, curtailment of health care costs, assuring the financial stability of working families are all in the interests of business.
Mark Harris, Pinellas Park
We'll regret this tax | March 3, letter
A GOP scam
The letter writer asserts that since corporate taxes are simply passed through to consumers, we shouldn't tax them in the first place. This is more right-wing twaddle.
First, corporations do "eat" a certain percentage of their taxes because of competitive pricing. Second, when taxes are passed through in the form of higher prices, they're only imposed on the consumers of that particular product or service. You drive less, you pay less of the corporate tax on oil. Similarly, don't fly to exotic destinations, live in McMansions or drive luxury cars and you won't be sharing the tax burdens of airlines, resorts, developers and Mercedes Benz.
But if corporations pay no taxes, then individual tax rates would have to increase, and those not living high off the hog would end up subsidizing the mega consumers. One more GOP scam of the working class.
H. Martin Moore, Largo
Make it in America
I read that the Hershey Candy Co. was sending 1,500 jobs to Mexico. They are confused; they should be sending Hershey candy, not American jobs.
We can't stop American companies from sending some of their work overseas, but Americans can stop buying their products. I wish someone would tell us which companies, like Hershey, have fired Americans to save money by sending American jobs overseas. Then we can fire them!
Americans love Hershey candies, but American jobs are our lifeline to survival. Listen up, Hershey. In my lifetime, I have had many a good candy bar — and not all of them were made by Hershey.
Part of the billion-dollar stimulus plan should be to help companies bring back "Made in America" products. Good old American competition will bring Hershey and other companies back home again. I suggest all "Made in America" products proudly display the American flag. Americans make it, Americans buy it. American jobs and products should never become imports.
Hershey, I am going to miss you. No more kisses for me.
Rod Gaudin, Tampa