Cheers to USF's provost, Ralph Wilcox, for putting a good face on Kim Wilmath's question regarding what students are getting in return for the higher rates they are paying for higher education. I believe Wilcox when he says that USF students are receiving a first-class education that will allow them to compete successfully in the global marketplace. If the recent trend of decreasing state funding significantly while raising tuition marginally continues, he may not be able to say that for long.
Since 2008, when state leaders first approved the tuition differential program allowing tuition increases of up to 15 percent per year, state funding of public colleges has decreased by 50 percent. During the same time period, tuition increases have only been able to make up 20 percent of the funding that has been slashed by our state's leaders.
As the parent of two college-age children, I find these trends alarming. At a time when more students are enrolling in our public colleges, the fact that our colleges are losing state funding at a greater rate than tuition is increasing (unlike other states on average), means that Florida colleges have less funding to serve more students. In my view, students are getting less in return for the tuition increase (a necessary evil), not more. Our legislative leaders know that and must address it. The math does not add up.
Andrew Ritter, Tampa
Scott's big gift to Calif. | July 10, editorial
Rail line didn't make sense
Gov. Rick Scott wisely rejected the opportunity to waste billions of dollars building an ill-conceived high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. This was a project that would have received minimal ridership. To put it bluntly, the distance is too short.
Meanwhile, the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco is 375 miles. It is a 6- to 8-hour drive. In this case, people will ride the train because it makes sense.
The federal government does not have unlimited resources to foolishly waste them on projects that serve no real purpose. I would have supported Tampa to Miami or Tallahassee. But Tampa to Orlando was a joke. Thank you, governor, for using your brain.
Deb Butler, Valrico
Use existing tracks
People with no knowledge of the real cost of maintaining a railroad continue to bemoan the loss of the billions of dollars we might have spent on a poorly designed and located new railroad to Orlando. With all the stops, it could never reach the high speed intended, and setting up an entirely new company would have been costly. Statements that it would earn a profit referred only to the train itself. The long-term maintenance of the track and equipment would have added to our tax burden forever.
Running fast modern trains on existing tracks by existing railroad organizations is better suited to our American geography.
Robert A. Stanton, Seminole
Extremely valuable product | July 7, letter
Take lesson from others
The letter writer says health care in this country will not be expensive forever, but on what is that assertion based? Citizens of every other developed country in the world enjoy universal health care without the threat of fines for noncompliance, "pre-existing conditions" are unheard of and doughnut holes exist only in doughnuts.
So why don't we just copy one of their systems? Because in every other country health care is run by the government as a service and not for profit, with Big Pharma, insurance companies and their lawyers having no say. As long as our so-called representatives in Washington — most of whom represent only themselves — are bought by lobbyists working for those who make huge profits from our present corrupt and shameful system, nothing will change.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg
Affordable Care Act
Mend it, don't end it
Good health care should be a right, not a privilege reserved just for those who can afford it. And while the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, it does recognize and address the need that all of us have for health services.
Republicans complain that "Obamacare" will kill jobs, raise taxes, take over our health care system, etc. In their TV commercials they advertise that any changes should focus on "sensible health care reform" or should be "patient-centered reform," but they don't tell us what that means. What are their specific proposals to address our needs? Do they think that our health care system is fine the way it is? Or do they think that good health care is reserved only for those who can afford it or get it through their employers?
Here's an idea: Why not work together and amend the Affordable Care Act so it serves everyone? Isn't that better than just saying "no"?
Tony Edl, Odessa
Torrent of negativity
I find it interesting that some two-thirds of Barack Obama's campaign ads are negative and/or attack ads. Wouldn't you think an incumbent president would run on his accomplishments during his term? On fulfilling all of the promises made during his run for election? This is not possible since his only accomplishment is an overbearing health care act that is apt to be repealed with a new administration.
Nothing in the way of economic grandeur, nothing on immigration, certainly nothing enhancing our status internationally. He can only attack Mitt Romney for being rich which, unlike John Kerry, he earned and not by marrying a wealthy woman. The remaining one-third of his campaign ads center on his just having bad luck, headwinds, etc.
Don Niemann, Seminole
Storms kill 13, cut power to millions | July 1
TECO was a life-saver
Tampa Electric now has die-hard fans in the Baltimore area. After 6 ½ sweltering days with no electricity, the sight of five huge TECO trucks arriving in our neighborhood was like manna from heaven.
The workers who poured out of those trucks greeted us with empathy, respect, a good sense of humor, and a genuine desire to help.
It was the first glimmer of hope we felt all week. You restored our power, and most of all our faith. Thank you! Come back again when you don't have to endure such horrendous heat. We send love from Baltimore.
Myra MacCuaig, Towson, Md.
Claims of deception shadow Duke | July 10
Taste of their own medicine
Executives at Progress Energy are whining about deception and foul play because Duke Energy ousted Bill Johnson, the CEO of Progress Energy, after the acquisition. Now those executives know how we consumers felt about them when they got us to pay for their iffy nuclear reactors.
Maybe we consumers will be strong-armed by Duke as we were by Progress, but at least it is slightly gratifying to know that Progress executives got a taste of their own medicine.
Steve Wilson, Safety Harbor
TB rages as state cuts back | July 10
Threat of disease
Against the advice of former public health officials, Gov. Rick Scott and Florida legislators ordered the closure of the only inpatient facility for the treatment of tuberculosis. As reported in the Times, with 13 deaths and 99 illnesses in Duval County, we now face one of the worst tuberculosis outbreaks in the past 20 years with no specialized state intensive inpatient alternative.
Although curable, treatment for tuberculosis requires an intensive and regular routine of medications taken over a prolonged period of time. If the treatment is interrupted or discontinued, the infection can become resistant to drug therapy and that resistant strain can be passed on to others. It is essential that people with difficult to treat cases be isolated from the general community and treated until their cure is assured.
Replicating this level of treatment capacity in major communities throughout Florida is not a cost-effective alternative to Holley.
James M. Kouba, St. Petersburg
Multiple endings give glimpse into Hemingway's genius | July 9
Colette Bancroft's interesting article about Ernest Hemingway's many endings for A Farewell to Arms brought to mind a local connection that is probably not well known today. Agnes von Kurowsky, said to be Hemingway's inspiration for nurse Catherine Barkley, was a Gulfport resident at the time of her death at 92 in 1984.
Lynne Brown, Gulfport Historical Society, Gulfport