Florida sees a surge in no-party voters | July 6
Choose a party and participate
The surge of nonparty voters is attributed to dissatisfaction with the uncompromising and ideologically based positions taken by the Republican and Democratic parties and with a Congress deadlocked and unable to do the people's business because of the inability to compromise.
But by not joining a political party, nonparty voters are one of the causes for this extremism and congressional deadlock. If nonparty voters would join the party of their choice, they would counterbalance the extremism. Nonparty voters do not vote in party primary elections that select candidates for the general election. This allows the most partisan in a political party to control the candidate selection process.
If nonparty voters joined a political party, candidates would be able to moderate in their stances and still win party primaries. As it stands, nonparty voters dissatisfied with both parties' candidates will either not vote in the general election, giving up a basic right, or they will vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate they had no voice in selecting and who is often considered the lesser of two evils.
Nonparty voters need to fully join the political process.
Lynn W. Lindeman, Hudson
Text ban rarely enforced | July 7
Tougher laws are needed
I was glad to see this article about cellphone use by Florida drivers. Talking and texting while driving are at epidemic levels and a serious danger to us all. I have had many cars come at me across the center line only to see a driver busy pushing cellphone buttons and failing to pay attention to his or her driving. A check of accident records will reveal how often accidents occur while cellphones are being used by drivers. And the true numbers are even higher since much of it goes unreported.
The Florida Legislature should be held to account for its failure to pass stricter laws to prevent this abuse. Apparently, the cellphone lobbies are more important to the Legislature than the safety of drivers. That is unacceptable and deserves voters' serious attention at election time.
Walt Seely, Riverview
Engulfed by vengeance | July 8
On July 3, an American child named Tariq Khdeir was savagely beaten by undercover Israeli police in the yard of his uncle's home. His family's summer trip to Jerusalem had turned into a nightmare days earlier, when his 16-year-old second cousin was kidnapped by Israeli thugs and burned alive.
A video of the attack on Tariq shows men kicking and stomping a child lying on the ground. He was held in an Israeli jail with hundreds of other children who have no charges against them. They were simply born into the "wrong" group in a society obsessed with ethnic purity and intent on purging non-Jews from the region. The world has seen what happens when unbridled racism is allowed to flourish, and our democracy will be judged by how we respond to this attack.
The terrible deaths of three Israeli teens were on the front page of every newspaper in this country for days. Most newspapers reported the Palestinian child's murder on inside pages, if at all. They did not mention the murder of two other Palestinian children before the Israeli teens were taken, or the kidnapping and murders of many others before that. Our media often assigns higher value to the lives of Israelis than Palestinians, ignoring attacks by Israeli terrorists altogether.
Their victims are Christian as well as Muslim. Christian friends in Bethlehem have seen their water tower burst and fruit trees cut by illegal Jewish settlers who want their property. These Palestinians are renowned globally for advocating nonviolence, yet 1,500 more of their trees were destroyed by Israelis in May.
We should demand that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, be granted equal protection. Tariq's cousin's death should be vigorously prosecuted. Our media should give these events the same coverage as the killing of Israelis. We must stop funding the dispossession and collective punishment of Palestinians. The world is watching to see whether we defend for all the freedoms we celebrated on the Fourth of July.
Susanne Hoder, Punta Gorda
Health premiums heading sharply up July 7, commentary
Companies must adjust
Stephen Parente forecasts that health premiums will rise sharply in the next few years. He sees an upward spiral in which rising insurance rates drive people from the market, causing insurance companies to raise rates even more on their remaining customers, which will drive more of them to leave, which will further raise rates. Premiums will rise unchecked, and vast numbers of people will become uninsured. He sees no way out of this spiral except for the government to funnel more money to insurance companies to keep them afloat.
It could happen that way, but the problem with his analysis is that it assumes that neither insurance companies nor health care providers will change their business models when faced with fewer and fewer customers. A business can't simply keep raising rates to make up for losing customers, when rising rates were what made the customers leave in the first place. To remain viable, insurance companies might have to find new ways to make themselves appealing and affordable to consumers. Health care providers, currently dependent on the insurance industry, might likewise have to find ways to be more appealing and affordable to consumers if the insurance pipeline ceases to function the way it has.
Bob Goodbread, Palm Harbor
Law's design flaws
This column should be required reading for anyone intending to vote in the November elections. Stephen Parente, a professor of health finance, provides detailed analysis as to why health care premiums will skyrocket, likely even double, when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2017. He outlines the inherent design flaws in the plan that create a conundrum for which there appears no reasonable answer.
Perhaps at that point PolitiFact would like to scrutinize the commitments Barack Obama made when he was selling the plan: It will insure millions more people, make health care cheaper, lower premiums and reduce the deficit. My guess is he would not only receive a Pants on Fire, it would probably melt the PolitiFact meter.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin