Yes, it would be wonderful if every Medicare recipient were informed of the cost of the benefits he or she receives. Having said that, it would be even better if the costs were brought under control.
The pharmaceutical, hospital and medical device manufacturers operate virtual monopolies. Hospitals collude on pricing. Drug manufacturers spend more than twice as much on advertising as they do on research and development. Patents are frequently granted for meaningless modifications to drugs that should go generic. New and dangerous drugs are allowed to enter the market, endangering patient health. Politicians have allowed the Food and Drug Administration to become Big Pharma's lap dog. It now "protects" us from foreign imports and equivalent but far less costly products that are effective but cheap. Washington is up to its ears with lobbyists.
More than 65,000 Americans choose treatment outside the United States every year as our costs are so completely insane.
I agree that Americans are largely uninformed about the costs. I disagree as to where to place the blame.
Gary Rice, New Port Richey
Don't ignore those in danger
Florida has a large population of elders. Some elder abuse is reported to authorities, but much is not. June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Elder abuse can take many forms aside from the obvious physical. Mental abuse can be just as damaging. Deprivation of food, medicine, comfort (heating and cooling) and friends or social activities may also be of concern. We cannot turn our backs on this vital issue and must be responsible for reporting it to the authorities. A call to 911 can save a life of a friend, neighbor or loved one. We truly can be our brother's keeper.
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa
Washington stalls as economy stumbles June 5, editorial
Spending isn't the answer
Paul Krugman and the Times still seem endlessly convinced that if we spend fast enough and hard enough we can outrun and outspend the negative economic effects of our profligate spending. Instead of Krugman, you should listen to Isaac Newton. He had no Krugmanesque quasi-magical economic formulations, but he did say that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Every dollar wrenched out of the independent economy through taxes is a dollar lost to the economy. If you put that dollar back into the productive economy it is a zero-sum gain at best. If you put those dollars into what, more often than not, is an unproductive sector of the economy (spending for "compassion," symbolism, national pride, bloated military, corporate welfare and other forms of vote-buying), the effect on the economy is negative in that it drains resources out of the real productive economy and dumps them into an unproductive false economy.
Yet Krugman and your paper seem quite firm in the conviction that if we hit the spending wall fast enough and hard enough we will outrun natural economic limits and blow through and emerge into a magical realm of economic Nirvana. It's a bit like trying to outrun the speed of light — something Einstein said you can't do.
Robert Beatty, Tampa
Spending crisis runs deep | June 5, letter
Limits to growth
The letter writer is correct that, because of globalization, deficit spending will no longer sufficiently stimulate the economy and merely plunge us deeper in debt. Keynesian economics depends on perpetual growth to offset deficits and, because we have added 3 billion people to the world economy — 2 billion in India and China alone — we are reaching significant limits to economic growth in the West.
But globalization was inevitable. If we had tried to keep China and India out of full participation in the world economy, China would have become more fearsome and militaristic than the old Soviet Union, and India would have become equally dangerous to us. The current situation is far more manageable than the alternative.
But the letter writer is incorrect in blaming socialism for our woes. All successful industrial societies are a combination of capitalistic and socialistic economic principles, and the challenge is to find the correct balance. Blaming the evils of socialism, or the evils of capitalism, for all our problems ignores reality.
Reducing the deficit will be painful to all, but if the pain is equitably spread it will not be unbearable.
Arthur Volbert, Gulfport
Offensive solution to a non-problem June 4, commentary
Showing ID no problem
It seems that Leonard Pitts believes if you have been in the service you should not have to show an ID when voting.
I have been in the service and I have no problem showing an ID for anything. You still need an ID to cash a check, get on a plane and numerous other situations.
Anyone against showing an ID to vote is only pushing their own agenda.
Dan Meyer, Largo
Apathy is the biggest vote suppressor of all June 5, commentary
Democrats lack a message
Frank Cerabino points out that the Republicans have been able to dominate the Legislature and Governor's Mansion in Florida despite trailing Democrats statewide by nearly half a million voters.
I can tell him why. I truly have no idea what today's Democratic politicians stand for. Just this week, we learned that the leader of the PSC, a Democrat, approved outrageous rises in bills by Progress Energy and therefore did not stand up for us, the ordinary middle class.
I know what Republicans stand for: businesses, preferably large corporations; I just wish Democratic politicians would take a hard look at themselves and ask why people don't vote for them.
John Starkey, St. Petersburg
Paycheck Fairness Act
Part of doing business
I have been reading about Republican opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which addresses male-female pay disparities. As a human resources professional, I fail to see how the bill could be a burden to businesses. I have always performed these equity studies. Any well-managed businesses should already be conducting these equity reviews.
Ross P. Alander, Tampa
Lack of leadership
What kind of leadership does Mitt Romney provide? In Wednesday's Times a Romney spokeswoman is quoted as saying, "Of course Gov. Romney supports equal pay for women." This after every Republican senator (47-0) voted against a bill for equal pay for women. What kind of leadership does that demonstrate? If he can't persuade even one of his colleagues, how much leadership will he provide for the entire nation?
Chris Lewis, St. Petersburg
Disney: No junk food ads for kids | June 6
Dump the junk food
Kudos to the Disney Co. for banning ads for junk food on its radio and television channels and websites. In 1977, I worked with two advocacy groups who petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to ban television advertising for high-sugar foods pitched at children. Needless to say, the campaign didn't budge the agency to do anything to promote good eating habits among our youth. Now, some 35 years later, we see the results of those failed efforts — an epidemic of childhood obesity and correspondingly alarming rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and tooth decay in children.
How wonderful at last to see some responsible companies in the private sector (and government agencies) boldly moving forward in a much-needed effort to improve our youth's dietary habits. (Of course, this is something that their parents should have done years ago but, unfortunately, have failed to do.)
Prior to Disney's recent campaign, San Francisco banned toys served with children's meals if they incorporate junk food such as french fries. New York City now prohibits the use of trans fats in cooking oils and shortening. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is moving to ban selling sugared drinks containing over 16 ounces of any beverage. Let us hope that other agencies and companies serving children will follow suit in pursuing measures that could help improve our children's health.
Stephen Feldman, Valrico
President's lethal strikes need checks June 4, editorial
Show some backbone
Your editorial is clearly opposed to the drone strikes. However, you do not have the backbone to state it and reject this presidential action. If this was George W. Bush, you would have completely and forcefully opposed these actions. Man up and be consistent.
Ken Johnston, Tampa