FCC should keep the Net fair, open | Sept. 7, editorial
Internet doesn't need new rules
New government regulation is not necessary to "keep the Internet fair and open," as the Times editorialized.
Broadband providers already have an economic incentive to provide fast, reliable access to the most appealing content, applications and services the Internet has to offer. Previous attempts to create "walled gardens" online have failed not because a regulator objected but because consumers weren't interested.
Regulation is rarely "smart," practical or without unintended consequences.
Nor is a requirement to deliver all data equally necessarily a good thing. For example, spam does not get the same priority as legitimate e-mail. Most spam, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of e-mail traffic, is blocked completely. Some services arguably should be prioritized above everything else, such as remote monitoring of patient vital signs.
If broadband vendors do try to discriminate against unaffiliated content, application and service providers for selfish purposes, they will likely face an antitrust probe.
Finally, it makes no sense to require wireless providers to treat data traffic equally. They are struggling to squeeze an exponentially rising tide of data traffic from smartphones through limited airwaves. Regulation will not solve the problem of not enough spectrum.
There is no question all Internet users should continue to be able to access any legal content they want just like they can now, but more regulation is not the answer. The solution is to build a bigger network. Fortunately, broadband providers invested approximately $60 billion in more network capacity last year alone without being told to do so.
Hance Haney, senior fellow, Discovery Institute, Alexandria, Va.
New health plan too costly for many Sept. 7, story
Health care reform was a necessary start
Please do not blame President Barack Obama for Clyde Holladay's unfortunate predicament. If Congress had had the courage to pass a bill that included the public option, Holladay would not be in this untenable position. But like the warnings received by biblical characters, it is best that we not look back for fear of turning into unyielding stone.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now law that will be enacted within the next four years, not the next four seconds. We are not yet past the days of the recent past when patients such as Holladay were denied medical insurance for "pre-existing conditions" by any means necessary and at all costs. We elected our political representatives to do the will of the people but somehow that goal was overshadowed by political agendas.
Clyde Holladay and Jeanni Bajenski will receive subsidized insurance premiums in four years. However, the fact that there will be subsidized premiums for patients who have "pre-existing" conditions is nothing short of a miracle. And make no mistake about it, all the unemployed naysayers and consumers of tea will be the first in line to receive the much-needed benefits.
Nobody said the PPACA was perfect but at least it's a start. Physicians have a professional responsibility to promote equitable access to the best health care available. The PPACA is a necessity, not an option. Perhaps Vincent van Gogh said it best, "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"
Linda Burke-Galloway, M.D., Winter Springs
New health plan too costly for many Sept. 7, story
Costs still need control
I was totally able to identify with Clyde Holladay's problem on the expense of insurance. I am in a similar situation and found the same problem when searching for a solution: almost $800 a month for coverage.
With such "affordability" a lot of us are going to die too soon. No other civilized nation allows such a massive social tragedy to persist for so long. Why didn't they just extend Medicare to cover the unemployed and people over 55? That was on the table for a while. We have no regulation to cover medical costs. The cost of a medical education is outrageous. The cost of malpractice insurance is insane. Lawyers are sucking it to death like litigious leeches.
Socialize it? Hell, yes, socialize it! Anyone who thinks the recently passed reform package does that, or does anything to actually rein in the out-of-control costs doesn't understand the reform package at all. It is all still for-profit private insurance companies servicing for-profit doctors and for-profit hospitals. Until we tackle the cost issue head on, all we have done is mandate unaffordable coverage for a lot of people who still won't be able to afford it.
We need to fix this "wealth care" nonsense now.
Gary Rice, New Port Richey
Mayor cracks down on bicyclists | Aug. 28, story
A missed opportunity
In Andy Boyle's article, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster says, "Cars and bikes don't mix." The mayor is incorrect. On Pinellas roads, automobiles and bicycles mix every day.
As noted in the article, there were 10 tragic instances in Pinellas County in 2009 when that mixture was deadly. If the purpose of Operation Share the Road was to educate, the mayor missed an opportunity to enforce a 2006 Florida law. Drivers must pass bicyclists with a minimum 3 feet clearance whether or not a bike lane exists. Cyclists and drivers who violate the rules of the road should receive traffic citations.
The article noted that "Foster said he loves the cycling community and wants to do more to promote bicycling." After St. Petersburg City Council Chairwoman Leslie Curran makes what hopefully will be a quick recovery from a bike mishap, the mayor can confer with her on that matter.
His honor might also consider pedaling a few miles in a cyclist's shoes to see the city from that perspective. As a cross-country cyclist and bike commuter, I hope the Foster administration will make St. Petersburg a much safer and bike-friendly city.
Bob Wise, Tampa
Letters on bicyclists | Sept. 4
Hubris on wheels
It was very disappointing to see that four of the five letters about bicyclists' behavior dealt exclusively with motorists rather than pedestrians. (Of course bikers can play victim regarding motorists, rather than acknowledge that they may be victimizing pedestrians.)
It's also disappointing to hear bicyclists whining, when accused of ignoring rules of the road, that motorists are worse than they are. That makes it right? That makes them less injured in confrontation with a motorist? What about accepting one's own responsibility?
When cyclists find themselves honked at by motorists, it might be useful for them to review how they've been riding. Perhaps they gave themselves leave to run the last red light, to ride many abreast, etc., and the motorist is trying to remind them.
My street is clearly not part of the bike path the city has meticulously marked out, but bikers know better and prefer it to the designated street, so on weekend mornings we dare not walk our dogs or otherwise put ourselves on the street. (Of course, government also ignores pedestrians, so we lack sidewalks.)
Packs of 30 or more bikers tear down our street, shouting at each other, claiming they ride single file because they stagger their five-abreast formation, and totally ignoring anyone else on the road. They apparently don't even see people leaping out of the way, as they never apologize, which raises the question of whether they have the visual acuity to be on the road at all.
Most of us, before moving to a "bicycle-friendly" city, admired their devotion to fitness and appreciated their contributing to reduced use of fossil fuel. The dislike they find all around them now is due strictly to the hubris of too many, demanding the special privilege of ignoring rules while themselves ignoring and endangering pedestrians.
Eileen O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg
Screen older drivers | Sept. 4, letter
While I agree with the letter writer about screening senior drivers, there are some even more serious causes of traffic accidents and deaths. To name a few:
• Drivers speeding down the highways and city roads while talking and texting on cell phones and no laws passed against it.
• Alcohol — How many persons driving under the influence many times are only slapped on the wrist, particularly pro athletes, people with money, teens, speeders and weavers?
• Lack of sufficient law enforcement.
Norman Elzeer, Largo