When we bought our home, we knew that due to the elevation and proximity to water we would need flood insurance. I can't argue that point. Look around Pinellas County and other areas of Florida: Many of us have the threat of flood without a beachfront view.
So, over the past 30 years, we have watched the premiums climb. Thankfully we've never been flooded and never had to make a claim. I don't feel bad about the premiums paid, but fear that we won't be able to afford the increases if there is a huge increase.
It seems that if there needs to be an increase, it could be done in a more fair manner. Don't just look at elevation; look at homes that have not flooded in a period of time. There should be a discount figured in. The house I live in was built more than 50 years ago, and I don't believe it has ever flooded.
Then, regarding subsidy, rather than taking at face value whatever the total actuarial risk is for a location, assessments could be graduated. Have a scale where homes would be assessed a certain percentage of the risk for value up to $100,000, a higher rate for the next $100,000 and so on up to a cap, beyond which full risk would be assessed by the premium. New construction could have different rules altogether.
Will Scott, St. Petersburg
Technology does its worst, and a girl dies Sept. 17, Daniel Ruth column
Searching for answers
This insightful and poignant message by one of the Times' pre-eminent writers, Daniel Ruth, shows us how he can help us see through all the nuances and ramifications of such a tragic social event.
He does not unrealistically castigate, for example, the morals of these bullying girls (middle schoolers, after all), which would be tempting to do. There are too many girls and too many examples of this to ascribe an individual, underlying evil that would judge them as having a criminal mind. Not that they should not receive appropriate measures to bring them the needed recognition of their roles in this death of an innocent and budding talent, in addition to the lifelong guilt that most of them will have to live with (but live they can).
Ruth's usual brilliant and effective sarcasm is held wisely in check in this difficult but so necessary search for answers.
Earl Kendall, Largo
President decries a 'cowardly act' | Sept. 17
Crime, not gun, problem
President Barack Obama is seizing on the most recent disturbed person mass shooting to institute gun control by executive fiat. The number of victims of these events pales in comparison to the garden variety we live with in our society on a day-to-day basis thanks to the prison door turnstile created by well-intentioned liberals.
We don't need gun control. We need criminal control. We need mental case control. And last but not least, we need an out of control government brought back under control (see the NSA, IRS, EPA, Obamacare, Syrian situation, etc.).
Dwayne Keith, Valrico
Moral consensus eroded
Once again another mass killing takes place. This is the 20th one to occur in the United States in nearly five years. As usual, the media cite the usual suspects to explain this murderous atrocity: need for more gun control, lack of security, a grievance, a plot, and so forth. Bandage measures will be demanded until the next bloody massacre takes place. When I was growing up, such horrors were unheard of. No one with a conscience would have had the desire or audacity to carry out such diabolical actions. What happened?
We have slowly lost all sense of a moral consensus over the past 50 years. Many young adults today were raised without a moral compass to learn what is always right and what is always wrong. How can this be universally taught when one-third of American children are being raised without a father? AWOL parents have a devastating negative psychological effect on children. So does having 40 percent to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce, and having 40 percent of babies born to unmarried mothers.
These social pathologies often produce very wounded and deeply troubled adults.
The greatest tragedy in all this mayhem is the complete incapacity and will of society and its top leaders to recognize and speak the unambiguous truths affecting these crimes against humanity. They're looking for causes in all the wrong places.
Jim Connolly, Tampa
State trims list of surplus land | Sept. 13
Water is the key
Members of the Florida Legislature should consider that the most vital concern of the state is not development and tourism but water.
The disposal of large recharge areas proposed under the latest "prodevelopment scheme" endangers the very existence of Florida. Is it not apparent to everybody that overpumping is causing sinkholes? Is it not obvious that despoiling our springs, rivers and estuaries is causing algae blooms that cause fish kills?
We need more, not less, wetlands to recharge our aquifer. After all, without water, we cease to exist.
Erika Milligan, New Port Richey
Cancer care raises concern | Sept. 9
This article highlighted a serious problem that many dying elderly want to be at home or in a hospice, but hospitals take over and provide very aggressive care at the end of life.
Fortunately there is a resolution. First, Medicare can establish a repository for all advanced directives of its beneficiaries. Second, when a hospital establishes Medicare as the payer upon any admissions, the hospital would be required to query the Medicare repository by Social Security number for any advanced directive.
If there is none, the hospital may proceed as usual. If there is an advanced directive, it must be followed and Medicare will not reimburse hospitals for care that was not requested. Once hospitals are at financial risk for uncompensated care for Medicare patients, their practices will change.
Laurence Branch, Dunedin
Plight of the poor | Sept. 11
Roadblocks to care
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford told listeners during a lecture that Medicaid is "one of the worst forms of insurance you can get in America."
He added: "Nobody in here wants to be on Medicaid," which is probably true and went over better than saying, "Nobody at this political luncheon would like to be poor and not be able to afford health insurance."
The reality, of course, is that nobody wants to be poor and nobody would like to have Medicaid more than they would like to have the insurance that Weatherford can now afford. Apparently our speaker feels people in poverty would be better off with no health care and Floridians will just have to tough it out with nothing rather than take funds supplied by the government.
The U.S. Census Bureau says there are about 3.8 million people in Florida without health insurance. Now the Florida Legislature is trying to make sure people get no information on the Affordable Care Act and their insurance options by barring "navigators" from health departments in supposed concerns for consumer protection.
What we have in Florida is a gag order against consumer education. The political malfeasance of the legislators is far more than an embarrassment of our state nationally; it is a cold, callous disregard for the citizens who will surely have worsened health care at the hands of petty politics.
Cecilia Yocum, Tampa
A writer with wit, whimsy, wisdom | Sept. 17
A treat to read
Jan Glidewell was always a treat to read. He was a true columnist who wrote what he thought, honestly, never apologizing for stepping on anyone's toes.
When I moved to New Port Richey and was deciding what newspaper to receive, Jan Glidewell was the reason I went with the St. Petersburg Times. He's been missed for quite a while now. May he rest in peace.
Gail McGlone, New Port Richey
Russia's crooked path to freedom Sept. 17, letters
Cold War is over
As I read the well-written opinions of your readers concerning Vladimir Putin and Russia, I wonder if I am reading opinions of a populace still involved in a Cold War.
The economic fall of Russia that led to an American victory in this Cold War has allowed Russia to step back and forced America to step up in places like Syria, Iraq and Libya. This is the unhappy truth about being "the fastest gun alive."
In Syria, however, Putin stepped up and realized that Russia's interests and those of America are very similar in a region as volatile as the Middle East. Putin can lecture America all he wants as long as his main goal is cooperation with a president who knows that cooperation with Russia in places like Syria, Iran and North Korea can further the cause of world peace.
It is only the cooperation of these two powerful nations that can curb the world's most dangerous threat, proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is 2013. There is no longer an Iron Curtain. America won the Cold War. It's over. In order to secure a peaceful America, cooperation with Russia and an arrogant Putin are essential in a changing world.
Robert F. Clifford, Tarpon Springs