America's yawning wealth gap
Our country, with its unique bent toward capitalism, actively fosters the wealth creation process. While nothing is guaranteed, people are free to innovate, take risks, start businesses and, in the process, create jobs and provide income for themselves and others. Some are very successful and, in a few cases, the wealth creators are handsomely rewarded. Extremely successful entrepreneurs create dynasties enriching the lives of successive generations, fulfilling one aspect of the American Dream. So why do we need to cut their taxes? Aren't they already very well-to-do? Didn't the country create an environment for their current and continued success?
The disparity between the haves and have-nots is increasing every year. Isn't our nation better served closing this gap rather than widening it? Maintaining taxes on the wealthy, not reducing them, provides revenue that can be used for better education opportunities and services for citizens in need. Failing that, we can always pay down the national debt.
Bravo to simplifying the tax code and eliminating loopholes. Bravo to eliminating waste and "pork" to groups that have lobbied for an advantage.
Hopefully Congress will reject the notion of further rewarding the wealthy and other actions that will only increase the wealth gap in the United States.
Karl Olander, Indian Shores
Navy ends sea search for 'McCain' missing Aug. 25
Basic safety seems absent
After reading the tragic articles about the USS John S. McCain, it is apparent that they still don't have a clue whom to blame for this and other recent Navy mishaps. Sure the bigwigs' heads will roll, but this is a simple problem. Blame is being placed on the lack of training and the lack of ships. Nonsense. These ships have the best of everything when it comes to detecting other ships and shallow waters. These sailors have much better training than we did back in the early '60s. It all comes down to: Stop relying on so much technical stuff and get back to basics. Nothing beats wide-awake lookouts on the bridge and fantail, especially in busy waters. These are not small ships that have been running into our ships; these are huge, slow-moving tankers. How in the world can anyone say, "We didn't see them?"
I'm not a career Navy man, but the two years I spent on the USS English, DD-696, a destroyer, showed me that being alert to what is going on around you is the ticket to a trouble-free cruise. Someone was likely relying on modern electronics too much, and whoever was using them solely as a lookout messed up.
Four ships in trouble just this year is tragic, and shows we are not the Navy we used to be.
John Wirth, Largo
Diplomats may have suffered brain damage Aug. 24
Cuba's act merits response
Over a dozen American and Canadian diplomats were subjected to life-altering disabilities from sonic wave attacks in their Cuban government-owned homes or workplaces. I was in favor of opening Cuban relations, but recent events have changed my view. The U.S. one-way relationship with Cuba has resulted in thousands of tourists and millions of dollars flowing into the Cuban economy. We should revisit our relationship, stop tourism and institute sanctions against Cuba.
The St. Petersburg Yacht Club reinstated the St. Petersburg-to-Havana yacht race this year after a 50-year pause. I was in support of reviving the race but have reversed course. Yacht club members and race participants are pillars of the Tampa Bay community. These leaders should not race to a country that treats American diplomats so poorly.
When North Korea sent Otto Warmbier back to the United States to die we put a travel ban on Americans going to North Korea. Cuba's action puts it on par with North Korea.
Eric E. Greene, Tierra Verde
Affordable Care Act
Mental health care at stake
On the Sunday political shows, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is fond of saying that the Affordable Care Act is broken and a disaster. However, he offers no data. I am a psychologist in private practice and I serve as the health care coordinator for the Florida Psychological Association.
One of the provisions of the ACA is that mental health care and substance abuse treatment are required essential services in health insurance plans. Before the ACA, families might discover that their insurance provided $1 million for physical health coverage but they may have been limited to 20 sessions of therapy a year, if there was any mental health coverage at all. Since the adoption of the ACA, families have parity, which means that mental health insurance coverage is equal to physical health insurance coverage.
What impact has the ACA had on service delivery? In our practice, our referrals have doubled since the ACA was adopted. In 2008, we served 750 new families. This year, we are on track to serve 1,500 new families. Republicans were unable to repeal or replace Obamacare, but Price and President Donald Trump are trying to sabotage the ACA by denying subsidies and actually advertising against enrollment in Obamacare.
If the ACA is not improved and stabilized in a bipartisan way, we risk the unraveling of a decade of progress in access to mental health services.
Michael T. Smith, New Port Richey
Trump pardons controversial ex-sheriff Aug. 25
Trump's reprehensible act
All Floridians — and people across the United States — should feel shame over the pardon given to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And for President Donald Trump to hide such a reprehensible act behind the nation's concerns over fellow Americans in Texas should heap more shame on Trump.
Every time America believes that Trump can go no lower, he goes lower. And as he continues to go lower, we in the Tampa Bay area should demand of elected Republicans in the area that they go higher.
Ed Coursey, Tampa