Staying in Afghanistan not worth price
As history has shown, whether we withdraw our troops from Afghanistan today, or in 2014 or 2020, the country will revert to its fourth century tribal ways.
The excuse that we are there to defeat al-Qaida is without merit.
Al-Qaida is all over the world, and very few are left in Afghanistan. Do we chase them in Yemen, Somalia and London, or should we concentrate more on securing our defenses at home?
Remaining in Afghanistan is not worth the death of one more American daughter or son.
I suggest we take our troops out of Afghanistan as soon as logistically possible and station a substantial number on the Mexican border. The porous Mexican border is the direct cause of thousands of murders and violence in Mexico, which is spilling into the United States.
We should be more concerned about our neighbor to the south being the murder capital of the world than attempts at nation building in Afghanistan.
Harold H. Dean, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force (retired), St. Petersburg
Senate bill strengthens insurance market March 2, letter
Bill hurtful to homeowners
State Sen. Garrett Richter's explanation conveniently left out the most damning piece of the legislation, which is that all insurance companies, including Citizens, will no longer be required to cover sinkhole damage. They will offer only catastrophic insurance, which means your home literally has to fall into a hole. How many times does that occur? They also will no longer have to cover sinkholes in industrial areas.
This bill, if passed, will have a devastating effect on all homeowners in Hernando and Pasco counties. If people carry a mortgage on their home, they are required by state law to have sinkhole coverage in order to protect their lender. Where will they obtain this insurance?
It's my opinion that Richter — who obviously does not live in either of these two counties — did not give much thought to the devastation that SB 408 would cause to so many of the taxpayers in this part of Florida. I would urge every concerned homeowner to make your opinion heard by writing Richter and our Sen. Mike Fasano, who so tirelessly works on behalf of his constituency.
Pat Montgomery, Spring Hill
Children in poverty
Going hungry in Florida
I watch 60 Minutes every Sunday. Never have I been driven to tears as I was watching the segment "Hard Times Generation" on Sunday.
It was about children of homeless families living in motel rooms and going to school in Seminole County, Florida. They go to school hungry every day. This is happening in America, where politicians do not think twice before giving billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies and spending billions of dollars every year to bring democracy in places like Afghanistan.
At the same time, the politicians want to reduce spending on education and food programs for the poor. They seem to be oblivious to the children in that 60 Minutes piece. It should be required viewing for all politicians in Tallahassee.
Raghupathy Sarma, Odessa
I hope Gov. Rick Scott saw Sunday's program detailing childhood poverty in Seminole County. He would have learned that nationwide 25 percent of children live below the poverty line.
He would also have learned that the situation is even worse in Florida and that a rapidly increasing number of these children are homeless and experiencing hunger and inadequate nutrition.
If Scott witnessed this horrendous problem hitting our vulnerable children, I feel confident that he would recognize the need to raise state funds to alleviate their distress by raising taxes on higher-income citizens. Our family income does not put us in the highest brackets, but I want to be included in those paying higher taxes to help deal with this dreadful problem.
Richard Rolfes, St. Petersburg
Public employee unions
Politicians around the country seem to be operating under some sweeping misconceptions about public employees and their unions.
Unions are made up of people. I and over 5,000 other teachers and support professionals in Pinellas County are the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the Pinellas Educational Support Professionals Association. The so-called union bosses are science teachers, language arts teachers, music teachers and guidance counselors.
Second, union contracts are negotiated by both labor and management. To hear Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker and our own Gov. Rick Scott whine about collective bargaining, you would think that the workers unilaterally imposed working rules and conditions on management. The fact is that management agreed to those conditions. Now they would strip us of our bargaining rights so they can unilaterally impose their rules.
Finally, there is the ridiculous notion that taxpayer dollars are being funneled to political parties and candidates by public sector unions and that this constitutes a conflict of interest. It is true that the taxpayers of Florida pay my salary. But I earn every penny of it. I have the right to spend my money as I choose. I, and many of my colleagues, choose to spend a portion of our earnings on the work protections and advocacy provided by our local union.
Rob McMahon, Safety Harbor
In praise of trains | March 5
Engines of growth
Slate editor Annie Lowrey commented about Warren Buffett's purchase of "well-managed, profitable" BNSF, but then writes of "their clunking machinery and crumbling infrastructure."
She must be writing of a steam engine passenger excursion on Amtrak, not the modern BNSF with its high-tech diesel electric engines running hundreds of containers on quality track.
Regrettably, many Americans have no idea how rail technology has improved to where trains are "dramatic engines of growth," as Buffett says.
John Evan, Seminole
Hitting redial on cell tower question March 4
Public input needed
Thank you for publicizing Hillsborough County School District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe's statement that questions and comments would not be allowed at a School Board workshop on cell towers. Some board members might well fear comment from the public, but is that any reason to suppress it? Isn't this America, where the exchange of ideas is encouraged?
The problem with this School Board is that, collectively, it doesn't want facts (or the law, apparently) to get in the way of anything it wants to do. Like ostriches, members simply push the public out of the picture, then proceed to do what they want. They forget whom they serve.
Deborah M. Rubin, Tampa