Try growing sugar if you need a bailout | March 18, commentary
Farm subsidies hard to swallow
Super-sized sugary drinks are the symbol of freedom and choice. Upon further examination, the large drink is also a sign of a broken U.S. farm bill. With one hand taxpayers provide $25 billion in subsidies to assist large agribusinesses that probably already have a decent profit. Sugar is just one of those subsidies.
With the other hand, legislators withdraw nutritional support for families who are experiencing financial hardship. These could be families who work for the minimum wage, or reduced income, and pay taxes.
Just a few weeks ago, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas introduced a bill that would cut $36 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, potentially forcing millions of children and their families off SNAP. Now, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has introduced his budget for next year, which would nearly quadruple the Senate SNAP cuts ($135 billion), both decimating the program and the 47 million Americans who rely on it to help put food on the table.
I find the farm bill and the budget cuts hard to swallow. If you do too, let your legislators know.
Barbara Drake, Tampa
15 years for tax refund scam | March 19
Keep after the scammers
It's about time. We can only hope that other judges will follow the lead of Judge James Whittemore. The crooks who are committing these tax scams are neither sophisticated nor even smart. They are just greedy and, as the judge said, exhibit a "callous disregard" for their victims.
I hope to read about more of these criminals getting even longer sentences as a sign that the feds are getting serious about putting an end to this crime.
John Robbins, Tampa
Talking and texting behind the wheel March 20
Danger on wheels
I witnessed a young woman texting while driving 70 mph entering the Veterans Expressway from Van Dyke Road. She weaved from the left lane to the right lane and back several times.
It is taking too long for a bill to be passed that says no texting — period. No second chances. The person killed by a texting driver won't have a second chance. And texting should not be a secondary offense.
Beverly Fromal, Spring Hill
Polished but not perfect | March 17
The headline on the story about Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, "Polished but not perfect," raises the question: Exactly who does the Times believe is a "perfect" politician? I would very much like to review that list. It's comforting to know that the editors at your paper have the ability to recognize perfect politicians.
Dave Gehris, La Plata, Md.
My wife and I recently returned from a driving trip to our home state of Kansas. During the trip we drove through Atlanta, St. Louis and Memphis during the weekday rush hour. Traffic was extremely heavy but was never stopped completely.
The only time that traffic came to a standstill was when we got back to Tampa, on I-275 South, on a Saturday afternoon. It was an eye-opener as to how bad the traffic problem really is in our area.
Ron Holzman, Clearwater
Assault weapons ban won't be part of Senate gun bill | March 20
Shooting from the hip
Among the flurry of antigun bills being offered for passage, mostly by Democratic lawmakers, not one addresses the issue of specifically prohibiting gun trafficking by the U.S. government to Mexican cartels, gangs or other bad guys as seen in the failed "Fast and Furious" debacle.
Here in Florida, a gun control bill filed in the Legislature would force gun owners to take an anger management class before purchasing ammunition (SB 1678, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville). Perhaps we would be better served by a bill requiring anger management classes for drivers and golfers. Talk about shooting from the hip.
Harvey Alexander Smith, Palm Harbor
The rest of us earn a living | March 20, letter
Gaming the system
The letter writer describes a politician who has had his way paved for him, has not accomplished anything on his own, and who was able to land jobs paying thousands of dollars while nobody seemed to know what he did. This is a perfect description of Barack Obama.
The writer also asserts that the rest of us have to earn our own way. I guess he has never seen any of the millions of U.S. citizens who are perfectly healthy yet collect "disability" payments while working "under the table" for tax-free dollars.
Our current president does believe in that kind of America, where the nanny state hands out money taken from those who actually earn it and too often gives it to those who game the system.
David Haney, Spring Hill
Cruise ship limps back out March 18
Economic boost sails away
The Times seems to have a real dislike of Carnival Cruise Lines judging from the last three articles I've read. The problem is, out of 2,500 passengers coming off the boat you could only find two or three who were upset. I could find that many on a normal cruise.
The story you should spend time on is the fact that the Legend is leaving soon to spend the summer at another port. This is the first time the ship has left for the summer, and as a result there will be a real economic loss for the Tampa area. Several hundred people will lose two days of work a week because the ship is not coming in. All the ship's stores that are purchased locally and loaded while the ship is in port will not be purchased. All the hotel/motel rooms and all the restaurants used by the cruise passengers will not be used.
This is going to cause a hardship for many of the people who work in the local cruise industry. This ship leaves full, every time, all year round, yet have the county commissioners done anything to keep the boat here?
Ben Loveland, Gibsonton