First of all, the state of Florida has no business being in the insurance business, which should be left to private enterprise.
But if the state is going to be in the insurance business, it must charge rates that are compensatory for the risk involved and to build reserves sufficient to pay the claims that follow catastrophes.
To write that because proposed rates are too high that the poor and elderly can't afford insurance may be a nice populist argument, but as harsh as it may be, that is just too bad.
If rates do not cover the risk, then when claims come in, guess what? Citizens does not have the money to pay and then the taxpayers are left to pick up the bill — something those of us who are not insured by Citizens are already doing via surcharges on our policies to make up for a portion of Citizens' shortfall.
William F. Humphrey, Trinity
Fury, fear fill room at Citizens hearing Sept. 14
Citizens insurance officials say the reason their outrageous sinkhole insurance rate hike is necessary is because of fraud and frivolous claims. Whose fault is this? Last year Citizens collected $32 million in sinkhole premiums and paid out nearly $250 million in claims. Doesn't it send out adjusters to assess the damage and verify if it was actually caused from a sinkhole? And why weren't Citizens' executives aware of the new property insurance law that clearly defines sinkhole damage?
This kind of a rate hike is not warranted when a company makes it own mistakes then tries to punish its policyholders. This is exactly what Citizens is doing, and I hope that Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty agrees.
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
Tea party disconnect
Notice to the tea party: If you truly want smaller government, don't attend meetings dressed as revolutionary characters and ask elected officials to reduce your insurance, utility, prescription drug or other rates while asking for more regulation of these industries.
You don't get it both ways. You don't get to keep your Medicare, Social Security or any other government program of your choosing. You don't get to pick only the programs that are good for you and throw out those that are good for your fellow American.
Wanting to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and then complaining about your contaminated well or smog won't fly. Eliminating the Education Department and then questioning why the nation has lost its innovators to China and India also won't fly.
And asking for the deregulation of the free market, a market that is filled with corporate greed and corruption, will do what it has always done. The profiteers will take back from the very people who gave them their freedom to do business unfettered. You will see more Wall Street corruption, more corporate greed and most likely an end to faux revolutionary characters.
Ray Day, Spring Hill
Not the free market
I found it interesting that the Times chose to show an image prominently featuring an apparent tea party member as one of the homeowners who was advocating against an increase in Citizens' rates. It strikes me as odd that a group that adamantly advocates for smaller government with less intervention in the free-market system would advocate for government intervention in the insurance market.
Tim Randall, Tampa
Citizens' obvious ploy
What Citizens has done in proposing its rate hike is called "moving the debate." It starts out proposing an astronomical rate hike of over $4,000 per year, so that when another rate hike of over $1,000 per year is proposed, which is still very high, people almost beg for it. This is transparent to anyone who has ever studied psychology or political science.
Demi Swearingen, St. Petersburg
Let the voters' will — finally — be done Sept. 12, editorial
Voters want fair districts
Kudos for this editorial on redistricting. When the people speak as loudly and plainly as we did in enacting the amendments, the politicians best take heed.
There are two stipulations that need to be added: that the new boundaries will adhere to present county and municipal boundaries as much as possible; and that no new district will be more than three times longer at its farthest point than it is wide at its narrowest. Any exceptions need to be approved by two-thirds vote in both houses of our Legislature and agreed to by our governor.
Districts for state offices ought to be determined in the same way. Fairness demands that no political party or candidate interest should trump the will of the people.
Norm Lucas, Tampa
1 in 6 live in poverty in U.S. | Sept. 14
They don't feel our pain
Is there anyone who believes the Republican majority in the House of Representatives will do anything about this alarming statistic? They couldn't care less about you.
U.S. representatives gross $14,500 monthly; being charitable, they are probably on the floor of the House all or part of 12 days per month, which means they are grossing $1,208 for every day they "work." Their health and pension benefits are outstanding.
They have no sense of what you are going through if you have no job, no home, no insurance, and no way to feed your children.
The GOP is famous for saying everyone should be responsible for himself, and I agree. But when the House will do absolutely nothing about ensuring that jobs stay in the United States, it's pretty difficult to take responsibility for yourself.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
My heart aches for the truly poor in our nation, and I pray daily and contribute monthly for improvements in the quality of their lives. However, the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent definition of "poor" includes citizens who have many of the creature comforts that middle-class citizens enjoy.
Has it occurred to anyone that it is our current president's intention to drive more middle-class citizens to dependence on the federal government? History has shown such citizens are generally easier to control.
Anita M. Knapp, St. Petersburg
Make it a ship destination
Last week the U.S. Navy made St. Petersburg a port of call with one of its newest vessels. According to the media, passes for the tour were gone in 52 minutes. I have voiced my opinion to the Pier committee that the "new" Pier needs to be a multipurpose attraction, something that will accommodate vessels like the Independence and the Japanese ships that come to Tampa.
I also told the committee that naval vessels are big tourist draws in the cities that house them. A big-ticket naval and maritime museum would bring more people to the downtown area. The carrier USS John F. Kennedy is looking for a home.
If tickets went that fast for a one-time deal, think about how a museum moored to a new pier with shops and restaurants would be a constant attraction, not only to locals but to the many visitors in our area.
Tim Smith, St. Petersburg
U.S. hikers in Iran may go free | Sept. 14
It appears that Iran is going to release the remaining two American "hikers" any day now. With them apparently headed for freedom, there are some pointed questions that someone should ask.
First, what in the world were they thinking "hiking" in one of the most dangerous places on the planet? In the process, they very nearly precipitated an international incident with Iran, a nation that just looks for reasons to challenge the United States. They not only put their own lives in jeopardy but the lives of countless others had this escalated to a full incident. Was there no other place on this planet that they could have chosen to hike?
Then there are the costs involved. Are they going to be liable for the astronomical costs incurred over the two years of diplomatic and legal maneuvering? How about the $1 million bail?
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor
Hard times all over
The Rays played the Orioles in Baltimore this week, and 11,900 fans came to watch. It appears they need a new stadium too.
Ed Cadden, St. Petersburg