PolitiFact Lie of the Year | Dec. 17
'Takeover' claim is affecting care
PolitiFact.com recently revealed its 2010 Lie of the Year to be the claim that the health law is a "government takeover of health care." I agree that the grotesque misrepresentation is worthy of this dubious distinction. As a hospice physician, I am particularly concerned that the "government takeover" hysteria has adversely affected the care of the terminally ill.
Studies indicate that an overwhelming number of people wish to die at home, comfortable, surrounded by family. Yet, more than half of Medicare patients die either in a hospital or a nursing home, often in discomfort.
Many think the disparity is due to a lack of education among the general public and physicians about the choices of care available to the terminally ill. America's Affordable Health Choices Act would have taken a giant leap in solving this problem by providing Medicare beneficiaries with a consultation on advance care planning.
But instead of being welcomed as a compassionate provision for some of our most vulnerable citizens, the consultation was yanked from the bill after opponents said the provision was nothing more than a veiled effort by the government to reduce health care costs by "encouraging" physicians to "persuade" declining patients to adopt presumably less costly care. Some politicians and pundits cruelly and inaccurately mischaracterized the consultations as "death panels" — PolitiFact's Lie of the Year last year.
In light of the political maneuverings, I urge patients and physicians to take the initiative and make advance care planning a part of their health care conversation.
And, finally, we should hold our leaders accountable when they lie, especially when it's about something as important as our health.
Dr. Gary McCarragher, Odessa
Goober and Gomer take over City Hall Dec. 19, Troxler column
The value of speaking up
Howard Troxler's column should serve as a welcome introduction to ethics for some officials.
The mixing of personal and professional business is no less common in county government, where officials are also part of a culture that tolerates conflicts of interest. So long as the actions are not specific violations, public officials bend over backward to give their colleagues the benefit of the doubt. The bar is set awfully low for ethical standards.
Citizens are generally too cynical to speak up. Eileen Julian is all that much more remarkable. The public is indebted to her for speaking up.
Joe Weinzettle, Tarpon Springs
Spreading fear, division
In my 67 years, I have not seen such behavior by a political party as the Republicans are practicing. They are so determined to oust President Barack Obama they will resort to any political tactic, even when it is not good for the country. They have spread fear and division.
Where are the great Republicans of the past, like Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, who truly had the good of the nation at heart? They have been replaced by men like John McCain. I once admired McCain for his principles, but his behavior over the past few years has been disgraceful.
The motives of today's Republican Party are strictly political. It no longer cares about the good of the nation. Its tactics may win elections, but at what cost?
Michael Malafronte, Trinity
Don't ask, don't tell
I hope someday when Sen. John McCain comes to his senses he will apologize and admit he was wrong for his hurtful comments on gays in the military, just like he had to apologize for voting against making a national holiday for Martin Luther King. His hateful rhetoric is not consistent with being a good Christian.
Billy Drulias, Palm Harbor
Ybor power poles and empty promises Dec. 23, editorial
Residents were informed
In Ybor City, where residents are upset about new power poles, Tampa Electric took steps to inform the public before the Port of Tampa storm-hardening project got under way. A contrary characterization in a Times editorial is just flat wrong.
Under the community outreach program, we:
• Mailed more than 850 letters to property owners and tenants Aug. 9. The letters were in English and Spanish to property owners and tenants within 500 feet of the proposed replacement of power poles along the project route.
• Included in the letters a map of the project route through Ybor City.
• Hosted a community meeting Aug. 26 at the Italian Club in Ybor City where residents could view renderings and models of the project and talk with company representatives. Just three people attended the meeting.
• Posted the community letter and map on our Tampa Electric website at www.tampaelectric.com/infrastructure/tampaport/.
• Provided the phone number of the Tampa Electric project manager in charge of this construction project.
• Sent letters to the Ybor City Development Corp.; Ybor City Chamber of Commerce; East Ybor Historic and Civic Association; and Palmetto Beach Community Association.
This project is designed to improve the system's ability to withstand extreme winds at the port, a facility critical to Florida residents both in and beyond our community.
We are proud to serve this community and will continue to be an engaged partner and a good neighbor.
Gordon Gillette, president, Tampa Electric Co.
The numerous homeless begging in Tampa's streets reminded me of a Washington Post article "The death of celebrity activists: Peace anyone?" and the complacency of our time.
The article cites a lack of activist celebrity examples. But the issue is deeper: There is a lack of activist role models in general. For example, there's a small orphanage I help support in Hanang Province in Tanzania, which was the only orphanage in the area when I was there two years ago. The woman who runs it has to turn away four orphans for every one taken in.
I have a friend who wants to help those in extreme poverty, but when asked to donate to the orphanage, she wouldn't because she didn't believe it would make a difference. Her lack of faith is not unusual. We need to believe fundamental problems can be changed and commit ourselves to that faith.
The '60s and '70s were full of activists who believed in the greater good and fought for unpopular things. We need to care again, and not be afraid to break away from the rest of the crowd.
Sara Spowart, Tampa