Florida lags on solar energy | June 14
Reject polluting industries
The true cost of burning fossil fuels is not reflected in the price that electric customers pay or in the profit that electric companies realize. The power utilities are dependent upon the fact that their pollution is not priced into their product.
Policymakers in Florida choose to ignore the destruction created by polluting industries when they dismiss the benefits of nonpolluting power sources such as solar. They do not appreciate the extraordinary value of a renewable, nonpolluting power source. Elected officials such as Rep. Will Weatherford see only today's bottom line and not the long-term price tag.
The long, slow aggregate of primitive policies like these will eventually result in a dismally polluted state of Florida that we will never be able to afford to clean up.
Kimberly Trombley, St. Petersburg
Florida lags on solar energy | June 14
It's not cost-effective
I did a study on using solar power for my condo building. I studied three proposals that showed that the sun would generate enough overall power to run the building (not the units themselves). However, it has too many drawbacks to make it worthwhile.
The life of the system is only 25 years because the solar panels begin to degrade immediately and will require replacement. The panels do not generate electricity when the sun is not shining directly on them. Our condo has no room to install huge batteries that could store some of the electricity. Thus, the building would need to stay connected to the Progress Energy grid. Excess power can be sold during the day at wholesale price but power must be purchased at night at retail prices. It will take 10 to 15 years to amortize the cost of installing the system.
Our association decided that solar is not a good investment for individuals until the initial cost is greatly reduced.
Joe Bullers, St. Petersburg
Health care rebates on tap if law stands June 13
Most won't see rebates
This editorial celebrated the $100 million insurers may have to rebate to consumers under the federal health care law's "medical loss ratio" rules, which limit what insurers can spend on administration. But these rebates aren't all they're cracked up to be.
Less than half of Floridians will qualify for rebates. Most will go to employers, not individuals. And most will be less than $100.
The rules are also driving professional agents out of business — to the detriment of small firms in particular.
Small businesses depend on brokers to "handle the responsibilities that larger firms generally delegate to their human resource departments — such as finding plans and negotiating premiums," according to the Congressional Budget Office. Without agents, they'll have to pay much more than the value of any rebate to manage their benefits programs themselves.
Janet Trautwein, CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters, Washington
'Zombie' case fuels effort to ban synthetic drugs | June 12
Keep government out
Reading this article was like reading a satire. Lawmakers and law enforcement officers are scrambling to ban these dangerous, synthetic drugs — a futile effort as drugmakers can make new variations of compounds like we change our underwear — and all the while there is a much safer substance that produces the high young people buy the knockoff for.
Here's a crazy idea: If we want to keep people from synthetic marijuana, why not just let them have the real thing? How many people have been hospitalized because they used marijuana? Arguably less than those who use cigarettes or alcohol, other lethal, legal substances.
Or even better, why not have the government butt out of what people can put into their body? How is that big government is bad when it's trying to pay teachers more or cover medical care, but good when it's cracking down on drug use?
Zoey Lowe, Treasure Island
Lost wealth and a long climb back | June 14, editorial
Let free market work
The Times editorial board endlessly asserts that more government is the answer to every problem. To quote this editorial: "But it was a hands-off Washington that enabled that mortgage and financial crisis to mushroom."
A more accurate assessment would be that our federal government caused the mortgage crisis by instructing lenders to loosen mortgage loan requirements so everybody and their brother could buy a house. This ill-conceived government effort at social engineering is what led to the mortgage debacle that brought down the housing market.
The government needs to back off and let the free market clean up this mess. It is a joke that the government has any authority at all in fiscal matters since it borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar spent.
Laura Harris, Brandon
Rice accepts far-right support | June 14
Hardly a radical
Since when does supporting the Constitution of the United States make a one a "radical"?
The heart of the oath for military or police officers is to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The article states that sheriff's candidate Everett Rice "is now flirting with ideas well outside mainstream political discourse." Thank God. Look where mainstream political discourse has gotten us.
Bob Romanko, Largo
Chip Bok cartoon | June 15
Look to the facts
I'm no big supporter of Barack Obama. He's too much of a corporatist for my taste. But his remark about "the private sector is doing fine" was taken way out of context. He was referring to the growth of the private sector, and in that he is correct.
Americans should not make their electoral decisions based on misleading information.
Frederick Kann, Sun City Center