The men in black | April 5, commentary
Public shouldn't be forced to buy
For the past week there have been many columns, Maureen Dowd's included, that are using name-calling when describing our current Supreme Court, all because they disagree with the anticipated ruling on health care.
The writers seem to misunderstand why Obamacare should be ruled unconstitutional. They often mention that the Commerce Clause gives the government the duty to regulate interstate commerce. But what they fail to realize is the Commerce Clause is meant to regulate the selling of an item, not the purchase of an item, which is what Obamacare is asking the court to approve.
When you sell an item, no one is telling you to sell an item. But the president, with his health care plan, wants to force everyone to buy something that many people may not choose to buy at some time in their life.
Chris Landrum, Brandon
Do your homework
Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted in Maureen Dowd's column as saying: "You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?"
Yes, Justice Scalia. That is exactly what we want you to do and what you are being paid to do. How else can a Supreme Court justice make an informed decision? Get reading!
Jeff Hall, Crystal River
Reform vs. empty rhetoric | April 6, editorial
Illegal is the problem
This editorial's mention of Mitt Romney's "anti-immigration rhetoric" simply ignores the truth. I challenge the Times to cite a single instance when Romney said that he is "anti-immigration." He has said many times that he is against illegal immigration.
Romney believes, as a majority of Americans do, that illegal aliens should get in line behind the many thousands of people from all over the world who have applied for legal entry into our country.
As for the Dream Act, it should be called what in fact it is: an attempt to subvert our immigration laws by rewarding those who broke the law by entering our country illegally.
Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach
During a recent trip to New Orleans, I was amazed at the transportation options that the Crescent City residents have. Not only is there the world-famous streetcar line, there are human-powered pedicabs all around downtown and even a free water taxi on the Mississippi.
From what I have read in the Times, Tampa Bay is finally taking municipal water taxi service on our magnificent bay seriously. It's about time.
If we are ever going to achieve the global tourist status of cities like New Orleans, we need to create aesthetic and fun ways to get visitors and locals around. The first place to start is a water taxi from St. Petersburg to Tampa, along with an authentic streetcar from the Pier to our world-famous beaches. Sorry, buses disguised as trolleys just don't cut it, and neither do large buses crossing our beautiful bay on congested bridges.
D.E. Brown, St. Petersburg
Matter of life and death
Here are the most recent available data on the number of deaths by firearms, by country:
1. South Africa, 31,918; 2. Colombia, 21,898; 3. Thailand, 20,032; 4. United States, 9,369; 5. Philippines, 7,708.
Canada ranks 14th with 144 deaths. As a Canadian, I'm proud that our country has the lowest rate per capita of deaths by firearms.
We constantly refer to people who are "enablers" for the evils or crimes of others. The United States may very well be in that category. Surely the Constitution must reflect our current values and realities.
Joe Zemanovich, Clearwater
No spoiling their fun | April 5
Helping military veterans
Last week I watched a group of World War II veterans boarding a flight to Washington, D.C., with the help of Honor Flight of West Central Florida. For the last year and a half this organization has been helping some of the 230,000 Tampa Bay area World War II veterans travel to the new World War II monument in the nation's capital.
The organization plans a trip when it gets enough donations to cover the cost. These veterans fought for our very freedoms and made America what it is today. Show these brave men and women our appreciation for what they have done for us and thank them for their service. They are heroes.
Edward Kleinpeter, Clearwater
Bay bridge could add toll | April 5
Raise gas tax instead
Adding tolls on the Howard Frankland Bridge to raise revenue due to falling income from gasoline taxes is, quite frankly, the worst idea I have heard in a long time. I understand and support the need for the Department of Transportation to maintain and improve the road system, and that requires money. But tolls are the dumbest way to raise money.
What will putting a toll on one bridge across the bay do? Yes, it will raise revenue. But it will cause people to move to the toll-free bridges, shifting the congestion. It will create or enlarge a state or county bureaucracy to collect the tolls. It will cost money up-front to build a toll collection system. It causes massive headaches for car rental companies, who have to figure out who was driving what car when tolls are collected via cameras, as they do in South Florida. And it increases gasoline consumption, as people drive indirect routes to avoid tolls.
So what's better? Simply raise the tax on gasoline. This requires neither additional state employees nor additional work for retailers or car rental companies. More expensive gas encourages people to both drive less and to drive more efficient cars, both of which are good for the economy and pollution.
Colin Povey, Clearwater
Heeding the words of Jesus | April 1, Bill Maxwell column
A welcome reminder
I would like to congratulate Bill Maxwell for his very refreshing article. I can't help but think that Christ would certainly be for universal health care (he was a healer). It seems we live in a society where people go to church to get saved and then try to run over each other in the parking lot on the way out.
Gary Battane, Largo