Lawsuits drive up medical costs
One day last month, I was sitting at a traffic light listening to the radio when tort lawyer John Morgan came on telling me that he was "for the people." I glanced up at a billboard and saw two really slick-looking attorneys telling me that they would seek justice for me. A couple of minutes later, a large city bus came by covered in Pepto-Bismol pink paint with an 800 number on the side and an attorney's name in large letters.
Within a couple of minutes, I was being encouraged to file a lawsuit by three different law firms. This is one reason why our emergency rooms are overcrowded. People involved in minor fender-benders are attempting to establish a record of injury. This is why doctors must practice unnecessary and expensive "defensive medicine" to protect themselves from lawsuits. This is why our medical expenses are higher and why our insurance rates are going up. And that is why we lose businesses to Texas and other states that have enacted genuine tort reform.
Florida trial lawyers arrogantly believe that their political contributions can control tort reform that would make it harder for them to extract money from insurance companies, doctors and businesses. There has been incremental tort reform in Florida the past few years, but nothing like Texas or Mississippi has enacted.
John Galloway, Tampa
Cut the rate, grow jobs | July 15, letter
Demand brings growth
If you say something loudly enough and often enough, people will tend to believe you whether or not what you're saying is true. This seems especially true given the number of letter writers who argue for a lower tax rate and claim that it will somehow result in jobs, which seems like nonsense.
Businesses create jobs when there is more demand for what they sell or do than they can handle, not when they get a windfall or a lower tax rate. "Releasing pent-up demand" is a supply-side canard, just like "we can't find enough qualified workers" is — unless you add the phrase "at the price we want to pay."
Chris Woodard, Tampa
Break the impasse on immigration policy July 14, commentary
Congress should be fired
In this column, co-authors and business billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates implore Congress to get past ideological gridlock and finally pass immigration reform legislation.
That's a great start, but it doesn't go far enough to fix what's broken in Washington. Fortunately, the entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for re-election in November. Now's the time for voters to turn our own inaction into action and go to the polls en masse and fire Congress. That's right: Give every last incumbent the boot.
Of course, there's no guarantee what will happen if, by the miracle of an organized voter uprising, the nation actually did give every incumbent the boot and come January we had a U.S. House of Representatives composed entirely of 435 new members. But we're absolutely certain of what's happening now: crippling legislative inaction on dozens of vital issues.
And, as hard as it is to accept — and as easy as it is to point fingers at the inept politicians in Washington — we have only ourselves to blame because we sent them there. And we're the only ones who can throw them out. The buck stops with us. So let's quit passing it. Let's fire Congress and start over again. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Jeffry Scott, St. Petersburg
Race for governor in ethical quagmire July 15, Steve Bousquet column
Tuned out from political ads
Some years back my wife and I decided to "pull the plug" on television. The Dukes of Hazzard was, I think, the No. 1-rated show at the time. When I was a kid, we had three choices: NBC, CBS and ABC. There was plenty to watch that included wholesome, intelligent, edifying material. As hundreds of channels were added over the years, there seemed to be nothing to watch. TV seems to blight everything it touches: sports, politics, religion, marketing, you name it.
I've rarely seen any of those feckless political ads that Steve Bousquet referenced in his column. And that suits me just fine.
Joe King, New Port Richey
Centrist party would be a winner July 14, letter
Open up the primaries
With more and more voters registering as independents, recent letters make a valid point that they are giving up the ability to participate in most Florida primaries. Nevertheless, these voters are still making an important declaration outside the primary process. They are clearly casting a vote against the increasingly radical positions of the two major political parties.
The rise of a more moderate third major party, as advocated by one letter writer, would be an awesome event; unfortunately, it's not likely to happen any time soon. Instead of pressuring voters to accept party affiliations they find distasteful, I suggest Florida follow the lead of many other states and make primary elections open. That would give all voters a voice without compromising their principles. I suspect it would also increase the number of independents and show how little the public really cares for the two major parties.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Scott offered a lesson on climate | July 16
Save your breath
A message to the scientists interested in educating Gov. Rick Scott on climate change. There is an old Florida saying: You can't teach a pig to sing; it's a waste of your time and annoys the pig.
Darryl David, St. Petersburg
Redistricting quandary | July 16
Special election solution
The judge ruled that the Legislature did not follow the law when the voting districts were redrawn. This applies particularly to two districts. The Legislature agrees, but says it's too late for this to apply to the 2014 election.
So hold the election for the sake of expediency, but then proceed in good faith and due speed to draw up acceptable districts. Then hold a special election in the two outlier districts. Problem solved.
David Beaven, Clearwater