The solitary leaker | June 12
Individual takes principled stand
David Brooks is just wrong about the reality of Edward Snowden. It isn't atomization, as if this guy were off on some personal evil plan. It's an individual, well-trained and apparently well-considered, taking a stand when his government exceeds his ability to just go along. An individual's decision to cross that line deserves consideration so long as there is no established criminal intent.
This young man learned enough in the course of paid employment to understand the extent of government oversight and found it so profoundly repulsive that it drove him to renounce career, partner and personal safety to attempt to deliver a clear and convincing message. This is an act of heroism that any American should understand and affirm.
We can argue about Snowden's legal right to do what he's done; but we can't but help support this patriot in the name of a free and open society. Snowden deserves full immunity while events unfold and we have a realistic debate about the limits of intrusive government data collection.
Bob Muhlhan, Palm Harbor
It appears that body scans at airports, cameras on streets and technology data collection (all of which cause objection) are protecting our nation from another 9/11 or other violent act against us. We live in a different world.
There is extensive data collected on us by corporations and by those who want to commit fraud or harm us. There are hackers within our country and without; it is serious when our government or banking institutions are hacked. I want protection, and if it requires our using the same weapons as our enemies, then we must do it.
We can resist harm by using the latest tools, and technology is one of the helpful methods of tracking the bad guys. Governments are usually behind the curve of change, so I'm glad we are catching up.
I have nothing to hide, and neither do most people, but we don't know who among us does and plans evil against us as an individual or nation. Tracing technological trails seems essential in solving crime in this information age.
Susan Schubert, Tampa
When exactly did Americans begin feeling like they had privacy on their telephones and computers?
When home telephones went cordless we greatly expanded the possibilities for eager listeners. The early portable phones were notorious for their inability to work everywhere in your home, but great at occasionally picking up your neighbors' conversations.
Cellphones have never been secure and have created countless new ways for thieves to know what we are saying or doing and where we are saying or doing it.
Anyone online is a target for criminals in a multitude of ways. From viruses to cyber-stalking, nobody in their right mind has ever felt total privacy on the Internet.
Which is why I really don't care if the government keeps tabs on who I'm talking to, Googling or emailing. I'm already used to criminals that are constantly trying to break my codes and passwords. At least now the eavesdroppers are on my side.
David Fraser, Clearwater
My wife went to renew her driver's license and was told she could not because her original Naturalization Certificate, issued when she was 6 years old — she is now 62 — is not valid unless it is certified by the Department of Homeland Security. How unreal. Because a certain politician could not find weapons of mass destruction, we now penalize individuals who have been citizens of this country for over 55 years.
I have never seen any information published anywhere about this "new" requirement for American citizens. There are probably thousands of citizens in Florida who will be surprised when they have to renew a state ID or driver's license. You can buy a gun and ammunition, but you will not be able to drive if you are not certified by Homeland Security.
Alan Pedigo, St. Petersburg
Prices keep rising
When Florida's educational budget was cut $1.3 billion two years ago, universities responded by raising tuition to cover the lost state funding. This had been approved a few years prior under Gov. Charlie Crist as the "tuition differential."
In real terms, this means that tuition increased 35 to 50 percent around campuses statewide amid tuition hikes that were already occurring at several times the rate of inflation. In 2006, tuition at the University of South Florida was roughly $108 per credit hour. Now that same education now costs $212 per credit hour, due in large part to the implementation of the tuition differential.
Now that Gov. Rick Scott's new budget calls for a restoration of $1 billion of the initial $1.3 billion cut some two years ago, some politicians with short-term memory loss are heralding this as a "historic increase in funding."
What do you think the chances are that state universities will make appropriate adjustments to tuition levels?
Michael Brandow, Temple Terrace
Act makes education a pathway to jobs June 12, commentary
For a full education
I have a question about designing high school degrees as "passports to real jobs." But first, a memory. During the Depression, my mother was pulled out of high school by her family to work as a maid. Later, however, when I was growing up, my mother read everything she could get her hands on: Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Dumas, and more. One of her favorite books was a history of words.
What happens if an emphasis on career preparation trumps an actual balanced education? If we continue to conflate the term education with career preparation, will our graduates turn out like my mother — who although lacking a complete education, did not suffer the loss of curiosity as an avid reader and learner? The humanities, not jobs-based curricula, offer such a prism of experience and templates of life. There is no substitute for such education.
I'm not against career education. In fact, I strongly support training in the trades and applied technology. We sorely lack people who understand how to make or do things. But as we direct these talented people into developing these kind of skills, we should be careful what we call a full education.
Antonia Lewandowski, Largo