If you are passionate about your political party affiliation, this probably won't interest you. But for anyone who is a member of one of the two major parties and is asking why they act the way they do and why they seem to care more about the health of their party than the health of the country, there are some facts to consider.
First, remember that there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the existence of political parties. They are a creation of us, the people, and we seem to have forgotten this and let them assume too large a role in American politics. We think that they have always been there and are required. They are not.
I feel they have become far too prominent in how this country is governed. They set political agendas that are far too liberal or conservative for the average American. And we go along with it because we belong to a party. Think about that — you "belong" to them. I do not like to "belong" to anyone or anything. That's what I like about America — you can be you.
Can you imagine what a 5 percent decrease in party affiliation would do to them? It might cause panic and major changes in their behavior. A 10 percent decrease might literally destroy them.
This is the easiest thing the average American citizen can do to make an impact on the future of our nation. It's simple and it will not affect you at all. Simply change your voter registration from D or R to no party affiliation. I did it and I feel liberated.
Mike Marshall, Oldsmar
Romney running mate serious and principled | Aug. 14, commentary
Appeal to the extremes
George Will is predictable. He believes conservatism is a "thing." You either have it in full measure or you are defective. Thus, to him, Mitt Romney was sadly lacking until the perfect Paul Ryan appeared. After all, like Ryan, was not Martin Luther King an extremist for his cause?
This diversion allows Will to cleverly argue that nothing in politics is moral and correct until he explains it to you in terms of good versus evil. Hence, the Republican team is righteous while the "president has become silly and small." As a bonus, Will thinks, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson endorse this message.
It is too bad that Will could not accept Romney without Ryan. That does indeed return us to 1964, when Americans could not accept Barry Goldwater without accepting extremism. Nor is extremism limited to economic policy.
Don Chamberlin, Clearwater
The 'job creators' myth | Aug. 13
Ryan doesn't have answers
Paul Ryan may consider himself an intellectual, and many of his followers think the same. Well, he may be an intellectual in some fields, but it certainly isn't economics.
All one has to do to validate this opinion is to read the question-and-answer piece in Monday's Times. Joseph Stiglitz, economics Nobel Prize winner, answers a number of questions about the economy and how it got this way. His analysis of the situation is brief and easy to understand. It undermines the basis of all the policies put forth by Republicans like Ryan. If these policies were to be put in place, the effect would not be a strong leap forward; they would wreck the economy.
If more Americans would follow the lead of economists like Stiglitz, the country would come out of the recession and begin growing robustly.
Charles Blowers, Clearwater
RNC to complicate trip to the hospital Aug. 14
A matter of life and death
Ask any trauma/emergency room physician. Any delay in emergency diagnosis and treatment can be disastrous. It is well established that patients' chances of survival are greatest if they receive treatment within a short period of time.
Tampa General Hospital had 78,362 emergency visits last year. Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg reports nearly 50,000. It is not possible for our EMS system, no matter how skilled, to accommodate anything near these numbers. No matter the amount of wonderful press Tampa and St. Petersburg will enjoy as a result of the RNC, it will all be wiped out should one seriously ill patient be denied timely medical care.
With all the beautification and changes made to accommodate this meeting, surely we can find some way to guarantee our citizens uninterrupted access to emergency care.
Dr. John Kauzlarich, Largo
Cuts are illusory
The latest talking point for Fox News pundits is the shocking announcement that President Barack Obama has "stolen" more than $700 billion from Medicare. This is the nonsense of "death panels" all over again — a flat-out lie.
The fact, which you won't hear on Fox, is that Obamacare has saved $716 billion by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, slowing the growth of payments to hospitals and insurers, and cutting overpayments to the private Medicare Advantage.
Every dollar saved will go back into health care — closing doughnut holes, senior wellness visits, cancer screenings, etc. — with no cuts in benefits to seniors or to Medicaid.
Jackie Gavrian, Brandon
The health insurance industry exists solely for the purpose of making a profit. As a veteran of more than 30 years in the health care industry, I have seen how insurance companies work. Medicare HMOs are a prime example. The insurance industry jumped at the idea, until they found out how costly it is to provide care to elderly people with chronic illnesses.
The companies took every avenue of escape from dwindling profits, including cherry-picking patients, denying coverage for services they supposedly covered, offering ridiculously limited services and raising rates.
Examples include providing only three days of rehab for stroke patients, and routinely turning down people with even mild dementia for skilled nursing care, claiming the dementia rendered them unable to participate in therapy.
Profit, not high-quality patient care, is the focus of the insurance industry. Medicare has much lower overhead than private insurance companies and its problems have solutions that don't involve the massive transfer of public money into private hands.
Sandra Mutolo, Lutz
Beyond Tampa Bay | Aug. 14
Fines for falsehoods
I find it troubling that a manufacturer must pay $40 million for false claims regarding athletic shoes, while candidates for president incur no such punitive action. We could put a dent in the deficit if we charged candidates a fine every time they made a ridiculously inaccurate public statement.
Larry Van Gelder, St. Petersburg
One vote matters
If you think your vote doesn't count, take note of this race in Hernando County: Candidate Jason Sager tied with the incumbent, John Druzbick, for a County Commission seat, 6,097 to 6,097.
If you were planning to sit this one out, America — please don't. It only takes one vote to tip an election toward, or away from, the establishment.
Jenny Earnest, Brooksville
Voter turnout for Pinellas County was about 20 percent. Some 80 percent of citizens did not do their duty to vote.
I am foreign-born, an American citizen since 2006. Voting was one of the reasons to become a citizen of this great country. People should realize that voting is special; it is sad to see them disrespect themselves and the country by not voting.
Millions of people all over the world are looking for that freedom. We have it, and people don't do the right thing.
Irmgard Knorr, Sun City Center
St. Petersburg fire fee
Abuse of power
We all know the St. Petersburg fire tax as proposed by Mayor Bill Foster is unfair. I don't care how he rationalizes it. Additionally, Foster's proposal to put a tax lien on the property of a resident who can't afford the fire tax is insidious and un-American. To impose a tax on people knowing the poorest would not be able to pay and then force them to agree to allow the city to grab their equity, with interest and fees, gives me a new perspective on the government's "abuse of power."
I constantly ask myself how such bad ideas get this far in the process.
Michael Keeley, St. Petersburg
A dog's life celebrated | Aug. 16
When I saw the color photo of a casket on Page 1B, my first thought was: Who died? Then I learned it was a dog. Are you kidding? The dog's owner can build a mausoleum for all I care, but does it really rate front-page coverage? I don't think so.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor