Millions just say no to health insurance | July 4
Don't add to taxpayer burden
I agree that no citizen of the United States should be denied basic health care, but I don't feel this care should be at the expense of the taxpayer. I think it is the duty of our elected officials to help provide a means of obtaining health care without burdening those who pay taxes and who also pay for health insurance.
A report by Families USA, a health care reform advocacy group, estimates that over $1,000 more in insurance premiums per family are paid per year for the 46 million uninsured. Uncompensated care, which is not paid for by government, charities or those receiving care, but is passed on to the insured by higher prices for their care, came to about $42.7 billion.
Those citizens electing not to have health care insurance should know that a catastrophic accident or disease can run into the millions of dollars in health care. Until there is something better out there, I would agree to at least having catastrophic insurance.
Patrick Knight, Land O'Lakes
I recently went through endarterectomy (a cleaning out of my left carotid artery) surgery at Bayonet Point Medical Center. The surgery and results were excellent, but fortunately I had medical coverage.
On leaving I requested an itemized bill and was astounded to see the hospital bill for 31 hours in the hospital was $52,398.03. This included $31.78 for a Lipitor tablet, $5 for one 500 mg vitamin C tablet and several IVs at $958.30 each. This does not include the surgeon or anesthesiologist.
This absurdity goes on in the private hospital sector and we wonder why medical costs are 16 percent of GDP. If someone in the field can explain how this can be regardless of suits, free care for the uninsured or whatever, it sure would be good to hear them. To me it reeks of pure corporate greed.
Robert Larsen, Hudson
Panhandlers can be found high and low
Cardboard sign or mail solicitation from a reputable charity? Both are panhandling. The money either goes directly to the needy or is redirected through an expensive organization with attendant skimming and then trickles down to the needy.
I have given both ways and have been on a first-name basis with homeless people and also with some of the head fundraisers for the local charities. The lifestyles of the two groups of panhandlers vary by a wide margin but both are smart marketeers. They know how to play those of us who believe there is some small amount of good in helping those who are less fortunate. On selective days, both can make more money than I do.
I continue to associate with all these people because it is really an interesting study in human nature. Both groups have a class structure. It was pointed out in your story (The truth is flexible, July 6) that some homeless people make it bad for others who have different moral values. The big charities invite only the top muckety-mucks to the fundraising ball. The homeless are stereotypically considered plagued by alcohol and drugs, but I have known folks who have good-paying jobs who are hopeless alcoholics.
From my personal experience, as you get to know individuals on both sides of this rather extreme bell curve, they are interesting, have their own story, and have the right to pursue their happiness.
Dale F. Gruver, Tampa
Acetaminophen in the crosshairs July 1, story
Few things seem to confound elected officials and their various appointees more than the topic of drugs.
One of these days — in my dream world — policymakers will finally snap to the fact that Americans will always get whatever drug or combination of drugs they want, regardless of how many hoops the feds make them jump through.
Remove the acetaminophen from the combination Schedule 2 opiods and users will simply use the newly packaged and diluted product in combination with a couple acetaminophen pills sold in separate packages. Reduce the potency of average acetaminophen tablets and users will simply consume two times as many of the lower-dose pills.
Meanwhile, in the seemingly well-intended effort to reduce the negative consequences to a relative few who overuse certain drugs, literally tens of millions of Americans who use these same products responsibly are unduly inconvenienced and often find themselves paying more money for the repackaged combinations they need.
In the 21st century, Americans have no shortage of accurate information and educational resources to guide them in the responsible use of drugs. There's no need for our nanny-state federal overseers to further complicate or mess with drugs that serve so many so well.
Stephen Heath, Clearwater
A scary loophole, or just free speech? | July 2
Free to advocate
I wholeheartedly agree with Howard Troxler that groups of citizens should be free to talk about politics without having to comply with Florida's burdensome, and now defunct, "electioneering communications" law.
But I couldn't disagree more with his conclusion that restrictions should kick in when groups start advocating the election or defeat of candidates in order to influence the direction of government policy. The First Amendment was designed to protect this very kind of advocacy, so it makes no sense to suggest that you lose your right to speak without restriction when you engage in it.
Politicians have a self-serving interest in maintaining these restrictions because they don't want criticism of their actions to result in their defeat at the polls. That's why the First Amendment admonishes them to "make no law … abridging freedom of speech" instead of licensing them to regulate speech they don't like.
Bert Gall, senior attorney, Institute for Justice, Arlington Va.
The Institute for Justice successfully challenged Florida's electioneering communications law in federal court.
In Tampa, speaking up for big brother after coup | July 8 story
I agree that, as with any story, both sides of this one should be told, and indeed it seems that this transfer of power may not fit the standard definition of a military coup. However, I have a few problems with the viewpoint presented in this article:
• What kind of democracy features constitutional clauses that cannot be amended under any circumstances?
• Is a low approval rating a justification for a coup? Wouldn't such an unpopular president presumably lose his re-election bid anyway?
• While it is somewhat surprising that the United States would align itself with Hugo Chavez on any issue, as our probusiness government has always painted all leftists as terrorists and autocrats, I do not believe that being supported by Chavez is actually a crime. He is, in fact, a democratically elected leader who is widely supported both in his own country and around the world.
Isn't Sen. Mel Martinez's statement on the danger of "protecting a sitting president regardless of their illegal act" just a bit ironic, considering he was one of George W. Bush's staunchest supporters?
Matthew Levine, Tampa
Current law hurts nation's most talented immigrants | July 6, Miami Herald editorial
Don't encourage them
This article was a good example of our news media pushing politically correct disinformation. The article referred to illegal immigrants as "undocumented immigrants" and not what they really are — "illegal immigrants."
The editorial went on to say our government could deport their children after they had obtained a high-level education, and supported the DREAM Act legislation, which has been turned down repeatedly in Congress.
What this politically correct article did not say was that these families and their children had used our infrastructure (education, medical, housing) on the backs of the American taxpayer, and legislation like the DREAM Act would only encourage more illegal immigrants to come to this country and bleed our welfare system, take more employment from American citizens, and drive wages and work standards even lower.
The article also did not say that deporting these people back to their poverty-plagued countries would help raise the standards of those countries, help reduce the economic difficulties in our country and reduce the need for illegal immigrants to come here.
It's time the media stopped blaming our country for these problems and correctly put the blame on the families who came to this country illegally. Let the children face up to the real facts and work out this problem with their families.
Frank Panella Jr., Valrico
5 uneasy with clout over water July 7, story
Why mention race?
While reading the article I was offended by the statement, "But the proposal to put five unelected, largely unknown bureaucrats, all black and in their 50s, in charge of handling permits without public input sparked a furor."
I can agree that their being unelected gives me pause, but what is it about their race that should "spark a furor"? This kind of racist statement doesn't belong in a respected newspaper in the year 2009.
Oh wait, I misread. The aforementioned bureaucrats are all white. Does that make a difference?
Bill Ellis, St. Petersburg