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Monday's letters: Equal protection is fundamental

Wary court hears gay marriage plea | March 27

Equal protection is fundamental

As the Supreme Court hears cases on the right for gays to marry — or the right of the government to prevent it — the parallels with all prior battles to win equal rights are clear. We denied nonwhites rights for more than a century, the vote to women for an equal time, and the right to go to work to the physically challenged for far longer.

In his questioning during the case on Proposition 8, Antonin Scalia asked when it became unconstitutional for same-sex marriages to be prohibited. That the answer escapes him simply shows the perils of his idea that the Constitution is "dead." So, apparently, is Scalia's intellect. It happened 150 years ago with the ratification of the 14th Amendment. There is nothing ambiguous about equal protection under the law.

The notion that the Supreme Court should not be in any hurry to grant rights that various state legislatures have denied ignores a vital purpose of the court: protecting minorities against the tyranny of legislatures or constituencies run amok.

If we had stuck to the notion that the court should wait for public opinion to catch up to the truth, a few Florida counties along the Georgia border would still run our state and "separate but equal" would still be the law of the land.

Buck Beasom, Tampa

To get better leaders, restore 2nd primary March 28, commentary

Open primaries to all voters

Bob Graham and George LeMieux's article is a start, but wouldn't having open primaries also produce better government?

The writers are correct that in primaries fewer people show up to vote, and the ones who do are usually passionate and extreme. As a result, at the general election I am finding myself voting for the lesser of two evils.

I changed from independent to Republican so I could offset the extreme. If we had open primaries, all registered voters would be able to cast ballots and we could (hopefully) get more people involved in the primaries, reflecting the majority rather than the few.

Jim Deveney, Pinellas Park

Two more options

This column asserts that, without the second primary, there is "zero guarantee the two contestants facing off in November represent the broadest consensus of approval within their own party."

This could also be true in a second primary system. Consider a three-candidate race. Candidates A and B have strong appeal to narrow and divergent constituencies. Candidate C is the moderate candidate without a fanatical following. In a first primary contest, candidates A and B may easily eliminate candidate C, while in a one-on-one contest, candidate C would likely defeat both A and B.

Two other voting methods strive to rectify this situation: ranked choice and approval voting (where a voter can select all the candidates he or she approves of). While I believe ranked choice to be too complicated for the voter, election administration and recounts, perhaps both should be brought into this discussion.

Chuck Smith, Tampa

Fixing medical bills that are just sick March 24, Robyn Blumner column

It's up to Congress

In her discussion of Steven Brill's "Bitter Pill," a searching expose of why medical bills are so high, Robyn Blumner concentrates primarily on hospitals and is unsparing in her indictment of their exorbitant charges. But she neglects to put her finger on who is allowing all the overcharging. It's not the hospitals or any other health care providers. It's our elected officials, who refuse to rein them in. As Brill notes, having spent $5.63 billion since 1968 on lobbying in Washington, the health-care-industrial complex has got what it paid for. Health care prices are high in America because, by law, we've allowed them to be high.

As to solutions, whether we switch to universal Medicare, or to price controls like some European countries and Singapore, is entirely up to Congress.

Kenneth T. Barnes, St. Petersburg

Can a human please just answer a phone? March 28, commentary

Service economy? Hardly

Leonard Pitts hit all the intensely irritating characteristics regarding customer service as it exists in the United States. It is no wonder that a few years ago an older woman attacked a cable company's customer service outlet with a hammer.

Most annoying of all are the exaggerated, unrelenting expressions of remorse, the need for repetition of information already entered and/or spoken, the reading of the "script" and, almost always, no real problem resolution. As he says, if it wasn't so sad it would be humorous.

With the decline of manufacturing in this country you would think that at least when it came to service we would excel, but we can't even do that.

Allen Stein, Clearwater

For Greer, it's prison and silence March 28, editorial

There are plenty like him

Jim Greer was a scapegoat who covered up for a select few Florida politicians who benefited from his criminal activities. I'm sure once he is released he will be welcomed back into the Republican Party with open arms to continue the systemic ripoff of taxpayer money that permeates not only the Republican Party but Florida politics as a whole.

Anyone who sees this as a victory for cleaning up Tallahassee politics is blind to the fact that things will continue as is — they will just find a new Jim Greer.

Don Mott, Largo

Powerball winners share windfall March 29

Generosity, not greed

One of the discussions that permeates offices, retail businesses and barber shops is the question of what to do with all the money if everyone pitches in a buck or two and wins a lottery jackpot.

Twelve real estate workers in Plantation extended their hearts and wallets by offering an equal share of the winnings to a fellow worker who was financially unable to participate. The unanimous response from the workers speaks volumes about their character.

Perhaps this will send a message that, unlike the statement in the 1987 film Wall Street, greed, for lack of a better word, is not good.

Mike Merino, Tampa

Monday's letters: Equal protection is fundamental 03/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 3:12pm]
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