Obamacare's toll on jobs | Feb. 5
Workforce, not jobs, will shrink
Please tell me what I'm missing. The front-page headline reads, "Obamacare's toll on jobs." Yet the first paragraph clearly states that the Congressional Budget Office is projecting a shrinkage of the workforce, not jobs. The predicted shrinkage of the workforce by the equivalent of 2 million full-time positions is thought to be caused by workers voluntarily reducing or eliminating the number of hours they wish to work.
Isn't this the whole idea? With the Affordable Care Act in force, fewer people will have to work just to have some semblance of health insurance (often with unconscionable restrictions and exclusions). With the labor force voluntarily reduced, more employment opportunities will be created for those unemployed who are seeking work, thereby reducing the unemployment rate. What's wrong with that? Your headline implies that unemployment will somehow be increased through eliminating jobs.
Kelly Anderson, Riverview
Hope for the unemployed
The Congressional Budget Office reported that as many as 2.3 million people could leave their jobs because they only needed them to get health insurance. It seems to me that if that many who did not need to work left their jobs, it would open that many jobs, for possibly the unemployed. Go, Obamacare.
Eric Ager, Clearwater
Keystone XL gets boost | Feb. 1
Bad for the environment
Last week news broke that we are in the 90-day period for public opinion feedback regarding the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. If built, this pipeline would carry the heavy tar sands from Alberta to the Gulf Coast for refining.
Environmentalists are protesting this potential build-out of the pipeline because the tar sands are much thicker and carbon-rich than typical oil, meaning the refining process would release an inordinate amount of carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, highly polluting methane gas may unfortunately also be released in this process.
In short, this is not a good idea. Climatologist Dr. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Space Institute warns against the building of this pipeline for transporting the Alberta tar sands. In fact, he declared "game over" for saving our delicate environment — which is already obviously teetering — if the pipeline is built.
For some reason, our heads are literally in the sand on this. We must wake up and protest this pipeline being built. Already we've breached 400 parts per million carbon in the atmosphere, when 350 ppm is considered the healthy maximum. We must curb a catastrophe in the making and put our resources into producing green energy, which provides many more new jobs than the pipeline ever would.
Jan Larraine Cox, Clearwater
Savings accounts exist for those who want them | Feb. 4, letter
Minuscule interest income
While I agree with previous writers that the myRA is poorly designed, I have to respond to the writer who opined that an option already exists: a savings account. Are you kidding? Why not just tell people to put money in a jar in the back yard or under a mattress? My current rate of return on my savings account through my bank is 0.01 percent. I have a money market account that gets an astounding 0.70 percent.
Should everyone have a savings account for emergencies or large purchases? Yes. Would a savings account ever pay for someone's retirement? No. Savings accounts are not tax-deferred nor do you get any kind of tax break. There is no rate of return for someone putting in $5 per week.
There should be private market options for low-income people to have retirement accounts for personal responsibility, but to pretend that a savings account is the answer is silly.
Barbara Ticich, New Port Richey
Congress passes 959-page farm bill | Feb. 5
The federal government is ready to deliver a crushing blow to millions of homeowners who live in flood zones by increasing flood insurance rates. These rates will force some to go "naked" and not purchase protection. Homeowners who have mortgages will have no choice but to pay the new fees or sell their home. Hardships are created with any of the options.
Under the new farm bill, the feds will pay 62 percent of the premiums for "crop insurance." This amounts to billions of dollars in insurance payments from the government.
Does anyone else find this contradictory or inconsistent?
Gary Folden, Largo
Judge Judy and condoms | Feb. 3, commentary
Don't trifle with creation
In Gina Barreca's column, she states, "Birth control is not a moral issue; it is a medical one." That statement makes pregnancy akin to an illness — a disease. Roman Catholics believe differently. Being a parent links men and women to the miracle of creation. It is an honorable undertaking with repercussions that last forever. The church, the voice of Jesus, counsels that married love is the only setting for sexual union, and that union must be open to the possibility of life. Creation is not to be trifled with.
In today's world, this is a hard position to speak publicly. I am a huge Judge Judy fan, but she got it wrong this time. Condoms won't "free the women of America." Our hearts know that sexual intimacy is a matter of supreme importance. When we act otherwise, we don't tell the truth.
Catherine Plum, Lutz
Lobbying is a basic right | Feb. 5, letter
Laws for sale
The verb "lobby" means to attempt to persuade or influence government. The work of today's "lobbyists" differs somewhat from that definition. Lobbyists do try to persuade, but ultimately they try to purchase legislation. That is true for both liberals and conservatives. Let's call it what it is.
John Dalton, St. Petersburg