Civics program pamphlet laced with religion | Dec. 8
Leave religion to the churches
As a Florida taxpayer, I am incensed that public money is being spent to support the National Center for Constitutional Studies, whose agenda seems to be to brainwash our schoolchildren.
The First Amendment protects citizens from those who would impose their religious beliefs on others, just as it protects the right to practice one's religion.
I'm all in favor of having our schools teach the Constitution, as it is undoubtedly an area of the curriculum that has been neglected. Let's provide our students with a copy of the Constitution without "theological flavor." It is not the province of public schools to promote religion. Leave that to parents and religious organizations.
Hazel G. Smith, Tampa
For some, it's not working | Dec. 9
Scott has done his job well
Gov. Rick Scott was elected on a campaign of getting unemployment down and attracting businesses and jobs to relocate to Florida. He has pursued that endeavor quite vigorously and has been more successful than a lot of other states. Secondly, his campaign was to be fiscally responsible by balancing the budget. He has done that.
To invest in people and public institutions, we need those businesses and jobs. The only way to pay for all those human needs is to raise taxes, grow businesses and jobs, or print money like the federal government does. We can't deficit spend, so we either grow or raise taxes.
Americans have little patience. Progress takes time. I believe the governor is on the right track and the only track. Keep working to build the economy of Florida and our problems will become smaller.
Joseph Zufall, Palm Harbor
Promote small business
The statistics show there is one job opening for every four unemployed Americans. Every politician who has run for office after 2008 promised jobs, and not one of them has delivered.
Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to believe he's created jobs, but at best he's created incentives for existing companies to bring their existing jobs to the state. It's a common practice among all the governors.
It does absolutely nothing to change that one-in-four statistic because it does nothing to create a new job. In order to do that, politicians would have to focus on tactics that create new businesses that create a whole set of new jobs that didn't exist before. Since 75 percent of all Americans are employed by small businesses, it seems fitting we should start there.
We should be ending the subsidies to successful businesses, like oil companies that record billion-dollar profits, and diverting those taxpayer funds toward grants and low-interest loans for small businesses. That has a chance at helping repair our economy more than this shell game the politicians are playing now.
Heidi Halsworth, Tampa
An instant jobs program
In your Sunday edition you rolled out a summary of the failures and successes of Gov. Rick Scott's jobs initiatives. Also on Sunday, John Romano's column talks about jobs in connection with the $51 billion Medicaid expansion available to Florida via the Affordable Care Act.
Many of the jobs Scott claims credit for did not happen or are "down the road" — but even those are small in numbers. The $51 billion for Medicaid would bring thousands of jobs at no cost to the state. If Scott were to take an active, affirmative role in accepting the $51 billion, he could take credit for some of the resultant new jobs and move his goal of 700,000 new jobs over seven years much closer.
I suggest you editorialize daily encouraging Scott to convince Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to take the $51 billion and, by the way, provide health care for 800,000 or so Floridians.
Frank Carman, Sun City Center
Jobs and opportunity are surging in Florida Dec. 10, commentary
Economy in the doldrums
After reading Gov. Rick Scott's self-congratulatory column in today's paper, I have to wonder how he has time to run the state.
I have watched northern Pinellas County and southern Pasco County shut down over the last two years. Every person I know who had a small business is out of business. People who were once business owners are now scraping by working part-time for lower wages than their college degrees should afford them.
The only thriving store seems to be Walmart — selling made-in-China goods. What good is it to bring other countries' business to our state by giving away our tax money?
Now that he is up for re-election, Scott says he cares about education. This after he cut education budgets by millions, pushed an assessment program that punishes teachers of low-level kids, and reduced teacher benefits.
Meredith McGlamery, Holiday
$44,000 for flood insurance? | Dec. 7
Ask the hard questions
Were it not for the Times' investigative reporting, many readers would not have picked up on the potential damage inherent in the Biggert-Waters Act until after the damage was done, including many politicians who voted for the act.
Recently, though, the Times doesn't seem to be asking the political class the hard questions. I'll suggest two questions that would be a good start.
First, what is the origin of the ignorance that led to this bill? Once the details of the bill are explained, a fact emerges that would be evident to any reasonably intelligent 10-year-old. This bill was designed to selectively target a subset of middle class homeowners with an immediate and overwhelming financial crisis. We now see politicians who voted for this bill lining up to correct the damage. The Times seems to be accepting the excuse offered for their original votes: "Some other dude did it" — FEMA being the most convenient target.
My second question is a classic investigative question: Who stands to gain? The insurance industry has been behind this bill from the beginning. The industry that writes and manages flood insurance policies also bears no underwriting risk. They do, however, take a premium cut for their services.
Even though many of the politicians who voted for the act are lining up for a delay, the effort will most likely fail. No one seems to be asking them the tough questions.
Otis Rothenberger, Bradenton