Drug firm bringing jobs | July 19
Drug companies behaving badly
There is a lot of euphoria about Bristol-Myers Squibb coming to Hillsborough and bringing 600 jobs with average salaries of $65,000. We certainly need good jobs here and especially those paying well above a living wage. These are necessary if we are to have an economic recovery.
But will this company be a good neighbor and do no harm? Apparently not if you consider that they and other pharmaceutical companies are still the largest defrauders of the federal government. Bristol-Myers Squibb's total financial penalties from 1991-2012 were $789 million (2.6 percent of the total).
According to Public Citizen report "Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: An Update," more settlements are being announced between state and federal governments than ever before. In their findings, overcharging health programs — mainly in the form of drug pricing fraud against state Medicaid programs — was the most common violation, while the unlawful promotion of drugs was associated with the largest penalties.
The bottom line is that the pharmaceutical industry is making money hand over first while systematically defrauding taxpayers. And all the while, individuals in the United States are not getting the medicines they need because they cannot afford them.
This company does not fit my criteria for a good neighbor doing no harm.
Dwight Lawton, St. Petersburg
To vote on July's Letter of the Month, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion
Rubio deserves support
Our current immigration system is defective. Washington has recognized that we need immigration reform, and Sen. Marco Rubio recently guided a measure through Senate that begins to address the issue.
Legal immigration is the unique premise that has made America what it is today, but 11 million illegal immigrants not only threaten the future of our open-armed immigration policy, they threaten the economic health of our country and our security.
If passed in the House as well, Rubio's reforms would immediately improve our immigration system as a whole. The bill does popular things like double border security and prevent the number of illegal immigrants in America from growing to an even higher number. It also addresses the less glamorous issues of legal immigration reform and an overhaul of the number of work visas that are distributed.
In addition to economic recovery and resident safety, this bill makes sense and offers real solutions. When leaders go to Washington and lead, we need to show them that we appreciate their actions by supporting them publicly. Rubio has made a valiant effort and has produced significant legislation. He needs our support.
Eric Fischman, Tampa
Spending on arts pays off
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would cut the National Endowment for the Arts by 49 percent. I think this is a terrible idea and call on our congressional delegation to reject this cut.
According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry (museums, theater and dance companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, arts councils and others) generates $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues annually — a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations.
Because the National Endowment for the Arts supports artistic excellence and improves access to the arts by granting funds to nonprofit arts organizations, I call on our federal officials to support an increase in funding for the NEA beyond its 1993 funding level of $174 million. That funding figure equals $277 million in today's dollars.
Our schools need more arts education. Schools, especially those struggling, can retain their best teachers by becoming incubators for creativity and innovation; places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach. Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade-point averages, score better on standardized tests in reading and math, and have lower dropout rates — findings that cut across all socioeconomic categories.
Across the country, the role of the arts as an economic engine is growing. I call on lawmakers to support funding and policies at the federal level that recognize the growth potential and direct benefits of investing in the arts.
Michelle Knapp, Largo
Food stamp cuts
Match the reductions
Any cuts to the food stamp program must be accompanied by proportional cuts to gigantic agribusiness entitlements.
Emiliano Quindiagan, St. Petersburg
Russia gives 1-year asylum to Snowden Aug. 2
Returning the favor
I don't particularly like Edward Snowden, who clearly broke U.S. law for reasons he apparently thought were important. But I should point out that when Moscow demanded the return of its citizens for business dealings in the past, we often decided they were dissidents and refused to extradite them.
Michael Francis, Homosassa
On Obamacare, Rubio's data is flawed July 31, PolitiFact
Low road on health care
This PolitiFact article explained that Sen. Marco Rubio's statements on Fox News about Obamacare were "Pants on Fire" lies. Rubio had stated that Obamacare would cause 75 percent of small businesses to either fire workers or cut their hours. PolitiFact determined that the truth was that only 5 to 9 percent of businesses said they would be affected.
It would seem to me that as a senator, Rubio would care to take the high road when it concerns integrity. Instead, he has chosen to take the low road and use spin and lies to make his point. And should our senator blame his incorrect figures on his research staff, that should tell the voters something about the integrity of his employees.
George Petrick, Riverview