Almost daily we read or hear about the economic hardship of rising gas prices. It seems that the headlines are a bit overblown and make no sense in relation to the driving habits of the American driving public.
Anyone who has driven on any of the nation's two-lane, four-lane or interstate highways soon realizes that the journalists and the TV news readers are sensationalizing the "hardship" of rising gas prices.
If you drive the speed limit on any highway or city street, you will practically get blown off the pavement by the gas-guzzler SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks, eight-cylinder luxury cars and all sorts of "family cars" and vans.
We did a little experiment while on vacation this year, driving interstate highways as well as two-lane country roads. We drove the speed limit. Result: honking cars and lights flashing behind us to get out of the way or drive faster. Even while driving 10 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, cars nearly touched our rear bumpers attempting to pass us.
If the rising gas price hardship was for real, folks would be driving the speed limit, buying Smart cars or Mini Coopers or small Fiats or whatever would save money on gas.
The public's driving habits and purchases of gas-guzzlers make the entire "Price of gas rising daily" articles nothing but comical entertainment.
Mik Lorand, South Pasadena
Democratic National Convention
Conventions give boost
to civic participation
National political conventions can be remarkably inspiring when one's political persuasions are in general alignment with the party having the convention. National conventions are a drawing card for our most articulate, dynamic speakers.
Conventions do for politics what church services do for religion and football rallies do for school sports. Without them, peer influence and enthusiasm would fade along with voter participation, causing our democracy to suffer. The high financial cost and inconvenience of the conventions are minimal compared to the devastating effect that apathy would have in national politics.
We should all pay attention to what is said, vote, and monitor compliance to promises made. But most of all we should be uplifted by the positive speakers and enjoy the promotion of democracy in this great country.
Dave Hewitt, Parrish
Wanted more coverage
I was deeply disappointed with the paltry four pages of your coverage of the Democratic National Convention as opposed to the entire sections that appeared every day in the Tampa Bay Times last week devoted to the Republican National Convention.
I was looking forward to stories about the thrilling speeches given by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Michelle Obama, of which there were only small excerpts. Where are all the human interest stories that could have been generated by the other heartwarming speeches, especially the one by the mother regarding her disabled child needing heart operations? You certainly dropped the ball here.
Are your writers tired from all that overblown coverage and hoopla you extended to the RNC? Or are you just trying too hard to dispel what Republicans have always complained about — your pro-Democratic Party bias?
Kathleen Elliott, Pinellas Park
Path of decline
Growing debt, a deteriorating economy and a society in decline is the path President Barack Obama and his supporters are taking our nation. We have been fed the line that Obama is the most intelligent person to ever occupy the Oval Office. Nothing could be further from the truth. He knows quite well that his belief in leftist ideology and his actions as president have placed America in jeopardy.
His re-election strategy of exploiting race, class and gender issues is beneath contempt.
Larry Biddle, Lady Lake
Paul Ryan's Medicare plan
Worse care, more expense
Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to reform senior health care eviscerates Medicare and turns it over to private health insurance companies. Medicare reform is essential for its solvency, but the rate of increase in health care costs is higher in the private sector than for Medicare, or compared with any industrialized country in the world, like Germany, that provides universal coverage.
The Congressional Budget Office has already determined that Obamacare is less expensive than it would be to repeal it and return to the prior system of health care the GOP favors.
Ryan's proposal would provide seniors with basic HMO coverage much like basic Medicare HMO/Advantage plans of today, also controlled by private health insurance companies, which often provide grossly inadequate health care coverage.
I was a state social services counselor in Florida for over 30 years and worked with many seriously ill and infirm seniors on basic Medicare HMO/Advantage plans. Those insurers were often reluctant or unwilling to deliver services such as skilled home health services, durable medical equipment, referrals to specialists, short-term placement in skilled nursing or rehabilitation facilities, and extended hospitalizations. Health insurance companies' first priority is profit, often accomplished by limiting health care expenditures.
George Howlett, Tampa
Shorter season, less money
Eyes, ears and minds are being filled with TV ads, political mailings and unwelcome telephone calls. This irritating and costly campaigning has been going on for months. The worst thing is that rarely are there any real issues discussed, just malicious words about the opponent.
The public is tired of this nonsense. Campaigning should be limited to five weeks. This is enough time to state proposals and policies.
As it is now, only the wealthy can afford to continue campaigning, either with their own money or contributions. No campaign contributions should be allowed, since acceptance of large donations is tantamount to promising a favor in the future. Money can be provided by the government and should not be exceeded.
Renee G. Salzer, Seminole
Pinellas term limits murky Sept. 5
It's time for them to go
In recent articles it appears that the two Pinellas County commissioners faced with being term-limited out of the upcoming election are unwilling to step aside and follow what the voters and the courts have determined they should do. They should not use the county attorney to take their side when the court and the voters have spoken.
We want term limits, we voted for them overwhelmingly, and the court has spoken. The purpose of public service is to help your community, not to make a career out of serving the public. At what point have they stopped serving the public and begun serving their own needs?
Tim Keffalas, Tarpon Springs
Memories of a POW | Sept. 2
I was very pleased to see the article on Capt. Kenneth Horner surviving as a prisoner of war of the Japanese in the Sunday Times. There are too few stories done about our POW/MIAs.
Today, thousands of service personnel remain unaccounted for. We must continue to support those who still do not have a sense of closure for a loved one who served his country above and beyond.
The third week in September has been designated as POW-MIA Week, and Sept. 21 is officially designated as National POW-MIA Recognition Day. Please make it a point to join in observing this special occasion that is deserving of all of our support and recognition.
Victor Bartholomew, Tarpon Springs
Lens out of focus
I just returned home from spending a day at the Corvette show at the St. Petersburg Pier. It was a beautiful day on the water and the more than 100 Corvettes in attendance made it even more enjoyable.
In my wildest dreams, I cannot understand why the city of St. Petersburg wants to tear this beautiful destination down and replace it with a venue that is only attractive to bicyclists and joggers. Shame on the City Council and mayor for not allowing the citizens to decide the fate of the Pier.
I think the Lens will go down in history as one of the area's greatest blunders, maybe even eclipsing the Clearwater Beach roundabout. I am truly going to miss coming to St. Petersburg and enjoying the Pier.
Larry Broga, Seminole
Pain Awareness Month
Not many people know that September is Pain Awareness Month. It is a good idea for people to become aware of the different types of chronic pain that people deal with and the different types of treatment for that pain. It is sad that many of those in constant pain have a hard time doing things you and others take for granted, like reaching into the refrigerator to pull out a gallon of milk or even getting up from a chair.
There is a stigma attached to those who need to take certain medications that allow them to be contributing members of society. People are called "drug addicts" because they are in pain. Please, read some articles on chronic pain and what some sufferers must deal with. Your attitude just may change a bit.
William Beckman, Largo