Rare elected socialist to serve Seattle | Dec. 29
'Socialism' no longer a dirty word
I read with interest about a candidate from the Socialist Alternative Party being elected to the city council in Seattle.
Contrary to popular opinion, "socialism" is not a dirty word, nor should it put fear into people's hearts. As Kshama Sawant would put it, socialism is the path to real democracy and protecting the environment. It is the best hope for young people who have seen their options crushed by the tide of low-wage, futureless jobs in the postrecession economy. Further, we should applaud her statement that workers "deserve the value of what they produce."
Capitalism has shown its ugly head, even before the recession of 2008, as evidenced by the resurgence of the new robber barons. In this land of opportunity, where immigrants still think that the streets are paved with gold, the rich are getting even richer and the poor are getting much poorer.
It seems that the poor and the 7.3 percent unemployed lost their last hope when Congress denied an extension of unemployment compensation.
In this environment, Sawant's advocacy of a single-payer health care system and getting workers what they deserve sounds pretty darn good.
Miklos Lorand, South Pasadena
The Great War's ominous echoes Dec. 29, Perspective
West dithers in Syria
Margaret MacMillan cites many parallels between the present and past in her excellent article, but one that is glaring by its omission is the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. The active diplomatic and material aid to the Bashar Assad government by Russia and Iran versus the willy-nilly Western support to the rebels is a classic example of each side sensing the other's political and military capital and resolve to use it. As we witness the tragic plight of the victims of those perfidious games, will the West ever learn from the mistakes of the past?
Jerry Rawicki, St. Petersburg
Distracting and dangerous | Dec. 29, letter
I appreciate the letter about the digital billboard in Sun City Center, which calls to mind a billboard that has been used by Brandon Regional Hospital for a couple of years, currently posted near Highway 301 in Riverview. It says "Text ER to 23000 for Average ER Wait Times." I always wonder if this message to drivers is designed to increase the hospital's business.
Jay Cooper, Riverview
Website glitches lead to fines | Dec. 21
So why is it that when the Florida unemployment benefits website doesn't work, it's the fault of the consulting company hired to implement it, but when the Obamacare website doesn't work, it's the fault of President Barack Obama and his secretary of health and human servies, Kathleen Sebelius? We heard the "buck stops here" speech from Washington, but all I see from Tallahassee is finger-pointing.
W.A. Massey, New Port Richey
Here's the best way to modernize gas tax Dec. 30, commentary
You drive, you pay
Michael Webber's idea of having every vehicle inspected every year to have a state-licensed inspector read the odometer and assess a fee based on ton-miles driven would be funny if it were not so ridiculous. It is an idea that passes to the consumer more legislative and governmental responsibilities — admittedly a popular move with antigovernment lawmakers and pundits.
I have a better idea. Eliminate the gas taxes entirely and convert all transportation infrastructure to private companies who could charge tolls on all roads and bridges. We could each pay a quarter to leave our driveways, and then whatever the market will bear to use the roadways.
I feel certain the tea party members of Congress would be quick to embrace such a move.
David R. Watson, Tampa
Where do leaders pay a price for corruption? Dec. 30, commentary
Joshua Tucker's study on countries that make their leaders pay an electoral price for corruption would have been more interesting had he included the United States in his examples. Given that checks from companies are given openly to House members and that campaign contributors' identities are mostly hidden, our country would seem to warrant a place on this list. And since many of our leaders are usually re-elected, would we rank above Sweden or below Moldova or Turkey?
Wayne Logsdon, Hernando
Answering call of center ring | Dec. 31
Cruelty plain to see
With social media reporting the latest news as it happens, no one can ignore the obvious cruelty animals endure in a circus. Why people continue to support an outdated tradition by buying tickets that promise animal enslavement disguised as cheap entertainment is beyond acceptable.
There are videos now that anyone can watch. Years ago animal activists held posters and chanted. Circusgoers ignored them. However, the media and ticket buyers cannot ignore YouTube or Facebook — the videos and pictures tell it all. People can rationalize all they want that circus animals are happy or that the circus conserves wildlife. Visuals, along with sound, now prove otherwise.
There are countries and cities that have banned the circus for good reason. Teach your children to respect life, observe compassion for all beings and stop animal abuse.
Louise Kahle, St. Petersburg