Cancer patients denied needed pain treatment | Dec. 8, commentary
Patients deserve pain-free dignity
I practiced medicine for more than 40 years and oncology for more than 30. I can remember patients literally screaming from pain all the way to death. Based on my experience, effective pain management has been the most important achievement of medical care in the last 30 years.
Dr. Kathy Foley, who spearheaded this effort, is a Catholic neurologist who works at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She has devoted her professional life, supported and inspired by her faith, to bringing back a human dimension (the patient perspective) to an increasingly technological type of medicine.
Effective pain management has been the first and essential step toward helping the patients and their loved ones to treasure the last days of life, to face the awesome mystery of death without fear of physical discomfort. These remarkable advances risk being erased by the grandstanding and cynicism of some Bible-thumping politicians. They have promoted a law that will make it more difficult for pain patients to access the proper medication and harder for physicians to practice compassionate, patient-centered medicine.
Given that the loss of every single human life is a tragedy, the prevention of an occasional overdose death is not a good reason to interfere with the relief of the suffering of millions of people. The same politicians who promise to take the government off your back want to use the government to deprive dying individuals of a dignified, pain-free death.
Lodovico Balducci, Tampa
Food line shows face of hunger | Dec. 8
Spend the money at home
Many middle-class families now have to choose between paying rent and buying food for their children. The government should bring the troops home from Afghanistan — a war costing hundreds of billions — and put the country to work rebuilding our roads and bridges like the WPA days.
Spend that money to make our country strong and feed our hungry people. There are millions of hungry men, women and children in this country, families who can't pay their rent or mortgage because of unemployment and poor wages. Employers are having a field day paying low wages because there are so many starving workers to pick from.
Our illustrious leaders need to take off their rose-colored glasses and see the reality of what's happening to this country.
Gayle Lerman-DeCoste, Dunedin
Cain shown unfit for office | Dec. 8, letter
Lessons from history
We shall never know, of course, if Herman Cain was fit for the office of the presidency, but if sexual dalliance is disqualifying, we would have been deprived of the leadership of John Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Franklin Roosevelt, to name a few.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
No more business as usual | Dec. 5, editorial
The Times is correct in questioning business welfare masquerading as economic development at the state level, performed through the hilariously named Department of Economic Opportunity. You should be equally skeptical at the county level, for instance when Pinellas County Economic Development continues to list as "success stories" companies that PCED has publicly stated will create zero jobs.
It would be naive to expect any meaningful dialogue on this issue from anyone administering or benefiting from these programs. Even the confirmed socialist Upton Sinclair observed that "it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
Tom Rask, Seminole
Time to deliver help for Postal Service Dec. 8, editorial
Radical solutions required
I agree wholeheartedly with your editorial that a huge paradigm shift in communications is making the traditional role of the U.S. Postal Service obsolete.
What is happening is little different from what happened when film-based imaging went digital. Kodak, once the world's premier photography company based on film, is today teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. As the rug was being pulled from under its feet, Kodak stood still and allowed Japanese and Korean corporations to take over the emerging digital regime.
What the Postal Service needs to do is not a "survival" drill, but an act of rebirth. I have no idea what that might be, but it must include a heavy dose of electronics. Privatization should also be seriously considered. The market has a way of straightening things out. America's brightest minds need to be put to this daunting task. No more congressional subsidies at taxpayer expense.
Sankaran S. Babu, Wesley Chapel
Bump up price of stamps
Members of Congress need to get off their lazy stumps and allow the price of a first-class stamp to increase to about 65 cents. Jumping a penny or two every year is like sticking a bandage on a crack in the Hoover Dam. We're faced with big increases every year from health, home and car insurance, utilities and gas prices and not given a choice. The politicians couldn't care less. What's a 20-cent jump for a stamp compared to a $50 jump for car insurance? Most important, it would still be the cheapest way to deliver that piece of mail.
If our banks and auto manufacturers can be bailed out as easily as they were, why is Congress just turning a deaf ear on such an important part of our lives? A 20-cent increase for first-class stamps and a five-day delivery would solve a lot of the problems. We need the Postal Service; it's part of our American heritage.
Bernadette Seablom, St. Petersburg
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Stand up for consumers
Last week, despite strong support from diverse organizations and leaders seeking to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps, the Senate failed to confirm the well-qualified nominee, Rich Cordray, to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We commend Florida Sen. Bill Nelson for his vote to stand up for consumers against Wall Street by voting in favor of confirming Cordray.
Unfortunately, Sen. Marco Rubio voted no on Cordray. That's a vote against consumer protection and against Florida's hard-working families trying to avoid financial tricks. Without a director, the CFPB remains a second-class regulator without full authority over either the Wall Street banks that destroyed the economy or the payday lenders seeking to pick consumers' pockets. Opponents make the false claim that the CFPB is an unaccountable "monster" even though its structure, independence and funding are no different than those of other bank regulators.
Brad Ashwell, Florida PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), Tallahassee