Thursday, February 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: U.S. should reduce its nuclear stockpiles

As members of Physicians for Social Responsibility, we are increasingly concerned by the debate on the "fiscal cliff." We know that if our country fails to reach a compromise before the end of the year, we face a situation where a hatchet may be taken to life-saving programs that prevent diseases, help keep people off the streets, and provide health care to our elderly and poor. We need a patient hand and a sharp scalpel to make the type of responsible and meaningful cuts to our federal budget to preserve our common future.

Our country is spending more money on war and defense than it has since World War II. This is not sustainable and it reflects Congress' desire to fund pet projects more than any reasonable assessment of our national security requirements. Even as our security challenges have changed, Congress continues to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on Cold War-era programs. That war is over. According to a study by the Ploughshares Fund, the United States will spend $640 billion on maintaining our bloated nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years.

This month, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., released a letter signed by 45 congressional leaders outlining cuts that could save our nation much-needed money by reducing our nuclear arsenal along with our Cold War baggage.

More spending discipline is needed in Congress, and we need a clearer definition of the Pentagon's mission. As retired Gen. James Cartwright wrote recently, "The world has changed, but our current arsenal carries the baggage of the Cold War."

Our current arsenal has over 5,000 warheads as of 2010. National security experts have long argued that spending billions to maintain an arsenal of that size is counterproductive and that the United States could maintain an effective deterrent with around 300 nuclear devices. While nuclear weapons are not the only place Congress can find savings from the Pentagon budget to pay down the debt, it should be one of the highest priorities for our elected officials in Florida.

Lynn Ringenberg, M.D., Tampa

Jefry Biehler, M.D., Miami

Lonnie Draper, M.D., Tallahassee

Rani Gereige, M.D., Miami

Todd L. Sack, M.D., Jacksonville

Ron Saff, M.D., Tallahassee

Overextended overseas

The elephant in the room is the defense budget. We have a Cold War defense without a Cold War enemy. Cut defense spending over 10 years and reform the tax code and we're back to a balanced budget.

Get our soldiers out of Germany and Japan and Afghanistan and focus on undermining the terrorist threat. We've got enough bombs and submarines and aircraft carriers and jet fighters. Our "leaders" are afraid of cutting defense because of the power of the military/industrial complex, and the issue of how to employ in America all those soldiers on standby overseas.

Mike Ahrens, Tampa

Marooned in Tampa | Dec. 12, commentary

Buses worked fine for me

Fabio DeSousa is way off base.

I was recently without a vehicle for six months. In that time, I discovered that both PSTA (Pinellas) and HART (Hillsborough) kept promptly to bus schedules.

I had no problem traversing both sides of the bay area on express buses for only $3. I traveled to the beaches, Bucs games, work, doctor appointments, etc. There were no worries with parking, and in fact I lost over 30 pounds with the increase in walking to and fro after exiting buses. Also, there are discount fares for seniors, students and the handicapped.

Sure, driving is easier (and far more expensive), but I never felt "marooned."

Ted Wolfe, St. Petersburg

Sprawl isn't a strategy

Nearly every Florida citizen without a car is marooned. This is the result of the state's century-long addiction to car-centric sprawl. It continues apace, as developers throw carloads of money at politicians.

The car capital of the world, Los Angeles, now has what is rated as one of the best public transportation systems in the nation, right up there with New York City. California policymakers realized decades ago that there is no way enough roads could be built to solve single-occupant-car freeway gridlock.

This state will remain in the transportation doldrums until Floridians elect policymakers who have the vision to lead us out of the sprawl development quagmire.

Mike MacDonald, Clearwater

In Scott vs. Crist, whom will voters forgive? Dec. 12, Sue Carlton column

Image and reality

Fortunately, there are two years between now and the election for governor, plenty of time for voters to do a better tally of Rick Scott's agenda and impact than Sue Carlton gives us. Voter restrictions are but the latest in a string of ultra-right moves the governor has made, paling beside his first-year cuts to education, efforts to privatize everything from prisons to auto licenses, waffling over the Affordable Care Act, and canceling the light-rail project. No amount of "image-remaking" can gloss over those.

Stephen E. Phillips, St. Petersburg

Citizens proposed loan program comes under fire | Dec. 5

Troubling tradeoff

I received notification this week from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. that my homeowner's insurance had been assumed by another company with an address in Tallahassee and a local office in St. Petersburg. There were no local phone numbers.

In doing some research on this company, I found that it filed with the state of Florida to do business in August 2012. What kind of assurance do we, the consumers, have that any claims could or would be paid out by such a new company? What kind of capital do they have to protect policyholders for a catastrophe or even just a simple claim?

I visited their website and did not find anything that would give me any further assurance about my policy assumption. I did find an "opt out" letter in their FAQ section, which I am processing.

We, as consumers, need to do diligent research before accepting blindly the policy assumptions being passed on to us by Citizens.

Carol Hess, St. Petersburg

Lie of the year | Dec. 12

Tax lies trump Romney's

If you think the Mitt Romney lie regarding Chrysler and China is the biggest lie of the year, you have proven your liberal bias. The collective lies from the left regarding the fairness of the tax code, specifically that the wealthy don't pay their fair share, is the lie that has perpetuated a continuous stream of lies from the left.

Steve Stanford, Tampa

Painful truths on the way

The most appropriate "Lie of the Year" would be someone stating that your newspaper is not a shill for the left.

People voting to call a lie the truthful statement by Rush Limbaugh — that the Obamacare tax load is the most onerous in history — because he sometimes distorts the truth are just the type of woefully uninformed people who thus far have kept your paper afloat. The tax truths of Obamacare are starting to unfold and they will keep on coming as we move into 2013 and 214.

Jack Kuechler, Safety Harbor

Chiefs award hefty raises | Dec. 12

Voters are to blame

For the life of me, I cannot fathom what Florida's legislative leaders are thinking. The working poor and middle class are floundering financially, while Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford are handing out substantial pay increases to their staff.

Until we step up to the plate and take responsibility for this behavior by our elected officials in Tallahassee, nothing will change. The folks of Florida will have no one but themselves to blame.

Christopher Jonathan Gerber, St. Petersburg

'Fiscal cliff'

Close the loopholes

Both parties are ignoring corporations that squirrel away tax dollars in overseas tax havens. For example, Google avoided about $2.2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues to a Bermuda company.

We are talking big tax dollars here, and yet I don't recall hearing anything from either party about closing these loopholes.

William R. Dubin, Hernando Beach


Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18