Beneath the ground in Alaska lies a valuable resource: oil. The state of Alaska allows energy companies to remove this oil and sell it for a profit. However, the state of Alaska has determined that this oil actually belongs to the citizens of Alaska, and when it's sold for a profit the citizens of Alaska should share in that profit.
Alaska charges the energy companies a royalty on each barrel of oil they remove from the ground. The royalty money is deposited into a trust fund and invested by the state. Each year the income from these investments is distributed to the citizens of Alaska.
The underground oil in Alaska is exactly like the underground water in Florida. However, unlike the oil in Alaska, the water in Florida is given away free to businesses that want to sell it for a profit, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District sees nothing wrong with this picture. They continue to freely give away our water to private companies while at the same time severely limiting the use of this public resource by the citizens of Florida who own it.
Why can't our leaders in Florida show the same consideration for their citizens that the leaders in Alaska show? The water belongs to the citizens of Florida, and the citizens of Florida should either be allowed to use it or they should be paid for it.
Alfred T. Barnard, Beverly Hills
Veterans jobs bill
Senate failed the troops
Our troops have paid a terrific price in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to those killed and wounded, many suffer from high rates of posttraumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injury and suicide. Veterans endure more than 10 percent unemployment, not including those who have stopped looking for work or those who work part-time.
Politicians always talk about supporting the troops, but they don't always vote to help them. Just before the Senate adjourned for election season, Senate Republicans on a nearly straight party-line vote defeated a veterans jobs bill on a procedural motion.
Instead of supporting the troops, Senate Republicans voted to advance their own ideological agenda. Sen. Tom Coburn's comments typify their priorities. He said cutting the national debt is the best way to help veterans in the long term. "We ought to do nothing now that makes the problem worse for our kids and grandkids."
Worrying about our children and grandchildren sometime in the future is important, but our veterans need to be taken care of right now.
Coburn's hypocrisy about the national debt is an affront to common sense. A major cause of our national debt is the war of choice in Iraq, which was approved by the Senate.
The jobs bill to provide work for veterans with the National Park Service, America Corps and other agencies would benefit America and cost much less than the money we waste in Afghanistan and at the Pentagon every month. The Senate vote defeating the veterans jobs bill is disgraceful and an insult to veterans.
Gene Jones, Sarasota
Mack's failure to respond
The voter's guide that was included in the Tampa Bay Times this week was very informative in helping me better understand the issues and people in this year's election.
However, I was shocked that U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack "elected not to respond" to the questions presented to him and Bill Nelson. There were only four questions for him to answer, and they were important ones. Nelson responded, and in so doing exhibited his respect for the voters' right to know where he stands on these issues. Shame on Mack.
Joanne Danaher, Tampa
Fla. justice criticizes GOP attack | Sept. 25
Default setting: no
A recent front-page article spoke to Supreme Court judges being upset that their records were being exposed. If we the voters are supposed to make informed decisions and vote to retain these people, then we should be able to find out if these are constitutional or activist judges and how they have voted on key issues.
Finding this information without help is near-impossible. If I cannot determine what these people stand for, then I will always vote "no."
Merrill Albury, Land O' Lakes
Obama sets right tone on Mideast Sept. 26, editorial
Look to history
Neville Chamberlain thought he could prevent World War II by appeasement and diplomacy.
How did that work out?
Patricia Wood, Brooksville
I thought President Barack Obama's U.N. message about free speech was great. The response from Egyptian, Yemeni and Pakistani leaders was very disappointing. Their rejection of protection for speech critical of religion is a demonstration that they absolutely don't "get" this "freedom" thing. And the evidence is they only protect Islam, not other religions in their countries.
The clash of civilizations continues. Obama is right to reject Islam's conditional "freedoms."
Bernard Waryas, Dunedin
Global competitiveness report
Gridlock hurts economy
In a recent letter from Congress, U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent. R-Spring Hill, cites the latest Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum as evidence that America is in severe economic decline. Yet the report states quite clearly that the United States remains "very competitive" and is in a recovery. The United States did slip in the ranking of 144 nations (from fifth to seventh place), but except for sixth-place Germany, so did all of the largest economies — the United States, China, Japan and India, a lingering effect of the world financial crisis. China, by the way, is only 29th.
The writers of the report seem most concerned about the gridlock over the deficit and "political disputes that threaten to push the country back into recession through automatic spending cuts." Nugent needs to be reminded that he and his colleagues forced the automatic spending cuts, the sequester, as their price for raising the debt ceiling. And he and his colleagues seemed to have made gridlock the goal and crowning achievement of their time in Congress.
Ray Fones, Ridge Manor
The unbalanced conservative mind Sept. 26, commentary
There is an alternative
I usually disagree with much of what David Brooks writes. However, this column is spot-on as to what has happened to the Republican Party. Brooks argues that the party has lost its soul to those who espouse only economic conservatism. Traditional conservatism placed emphasis on establishing and maintaining a secure social base, i.e., "families are intact, self-discipline is the rule, children are secure and government provides a subtle hand."
There is another term for this lost side of Republican thinking. It is called the Democratic Party.
Richard Block, Tampa
Cruise advice from a lifelong traveler Sept. 26
Caution on excursions
I have just read Peggy Hammond's tips on cruising, and as a retired travel agent who specialized in cruises, I would never recommend that a client take any shore excursions with locals in an attempt to save a few bucks.
If you use a local and they break down or experience some other delay, the ship is not going to wait for you, and you will have to catch up with the ship at your own cost. If you use the cruise line's vendor and are delayed, the ship will be notified and they will wait for your group to return.
More importantly, few locals are likely to be insured, which can lead to devastating results in case of an accident.
Randy Baldwin, Lutz
James A. Haley VA hospital
A record of great care
My eight years' experience as a patient at the James A. Haley VA hospital in Tampa has been one of the best patient experiences I have ever had. I was recently admitted through their ER and was impressed from that moment until I was discharged a week later. All the nurses were very competent and caring, the doctors were expert and made me part of their decisions.
I was a volunteer there for eight months and saw how hard the staff work even without adequate funding, short on staff and space.
This hospital deserves credit for doing an outstanding job 99.8 percent of the time. They are always doing their best to keep the promise of quality health care for the veterans who have defended our country.
Richard Beeman, Tampa