Gulf oil rig fire still blazing | April 22, story
Oil drilling's danger is on display
The recent horrific accident on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico clearly brings to the fore how this activity is fraught with unanticipated dangers. This rig has spewed huge amounts of oil into the gulf.
I think it represents an omen which we in Florida — and all those who wish to open the state's waters to oil drilling — should heed. Now that President Barack Obama is attempting to open another region of the gulf to drilling, we who treasure our precious beaches should exert pressure against this effort. The potential for disaster is too great.
Jay Hall, Tampa
Too quick to judge
Your editorial photographs of an exploded oil rig 50 miles offshore and a Fort De Soto beach (Don't let this happen here, April 23) deserve as much juxtaposition as your sensationalism deserves credibility. Why not include an Icelandic volcano while you're at it?
Let's see how much environmental damage is done, and where. Then I'll write a considered opinion letter.
A. LaMont Shultes, Spring Hill
Oil rig explosion
A dose of reality for our leaders
When contemplating oil drilling off of Florida's precious coastline, I cannot think of a more sobering and startling dose of reality than the recent explosion and sinking of the oil rig off the coast of Louisiana.
The scope of this tragedy is immense: lost lives and injuries, environmental devastation, coastal residents fearing for their livelihoods. When the oil industry and their federal and state political cronies tell us that modern oil technologies are safe, please remember the lesson of this tragedy. For so little to be gained from drilling, why risk a catastrophe of this magnitude here?
Daniel H. Hodge, Gulfport
Don't let this happen here | April 23, editorial
A poor argument
To use one fire, on an oil rig 50 miles off the Louisiana shore, as justification to not drill off Florida is the same as using an earthquake in 1906 as a reason to not rebuild San Francisco or using Katrina as a reason to not rebuild New Orleans. Things happen, but they shouldn't be used as justification for putting our heads in the sand and pretending everything will be okay if we just do nothing, or just keep doing it the old way.
Remember when the horseless carriage was thought of as just some "newfangled thing." I'll bet the St. Petersburg Times would have been against that, too.
Florida has one of the worst unemployment rates because people like you want us to continue as a predominantly one-economy state: tourism. In case you haven't noticed, vacations are the last thing people think about when they are trying to make ends meet.
What Floridians need is to diversify, not keep their heads in the sand, as pretty as it might be.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
Don't let this happen here | April 23, editorial
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the two pictures and few words on Friday's Opinion page said very much more than the "Drill, baby, drill" Republican proponents in the state Legislature could ever hope to achieve.
To put our beaches, and the economic benefits we all enjoy, in jeopardy for the sake of a few bucks and a couple of days worth of oil proves — once again — that the GOP leaders in the state capital are more interested in their political agenda than in the best interests and future of Florida.
Come November, I hope your editorial board and the voters will remember the actions of our local representatives and give their support to those who deserve it regardless of party affiliation.
Jay D. Jennings, Brooksville
New energy needed
The explosion and sinking of the oil platform, Deepwater Horizon, off the coast of Louisiana should serve as a warning to Florida's citizens and lawmakers like Gov. Charlie Crist, Rep. Dean Cannon and Sen. Mike Haridopolos who are all too willing to put Florida's coast at risk, claiming drilling and delivery of oil can be done safely. Whom do they think they are fooling?
We should call upon Florida's leadership to pass legislation that will dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and spur investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy like solar and cellulosic biofuels, resulting in job creation while protecting our coastal waters and shoreline.
Bev Griffiths, Riverview
Why America, bold and bright, will come back better than ever | April 18, Perspective story
Optimism not shared
Daniel Gross' article is rather optimistic about the economic future. However, I do not feel that optimistic about the economic future of the United States. It is a well know fact that good economies are inversely proportional to the growth of taxes and regulations. In other words, as taxes and numerous regulations go up, the economic well being goes down.
This is based on the findings of a Scottish philosopher of the 1700s by the name of Adam Smith (1723-1790), who is known as the father of economics today. His findings are roughly described above, along with an exception regarding the need for really smart regulations to provide some control over excesses. For those who would like to argue the point, I suggest they read Smith's The Wealth of Nations along with philosophers like Locke, Hegel and Mill.
I suggest that the work of John Maynard Keynes be dismissed except for rather "light" depressions.
Charles E. Mac Neill, Crystal River
Reform done right in SB 4 | April 19, editorial
A science misstep
While I agree with some of the proposals in Senate Bill 4, such as end-of-year exams to replace the FCAT, your support of the bill does not look at all the ramifications of changing the high school curriculum. While you may claim it was "done right," the opinions of veteran science teachers have been ignored. Pasco County schools have a strong science curriculum that allows students an option of which class to take. To have state rules dictate which courses a student needs for graduation can lead to unintended consequences.
The proposal to require chemistry for high school graduation is flawed. Only a fraction of our high school population attends college, and forcing all students to complete a college-prep curriculum is shortsighted. It will effectively eliminate elective science courses, which give students a choice in building their program. Elective courses such as marine science and environmental science pique students' interest and can help maintain their progress toward graduation. Eliminating this option and forcing students to take chemistry will result in diminished interest, academic and discipline problems and probably raise dropout rates rather than lower them.
Mark DeCrosta, marine science teacher, Pasco County Schools, Holiday
Unity, not division
In his televised campaign ad Marco Rubio says, "America needs Republicans who will stand up to Obama, not join him."
Well, Mr. Rubio, you're 100 percent wrong. It's opinions like yours that are the primary reason this country is in the shape it's in today and why "government is broken," as you also say in your ad.
What America really needs is leaders from both parties who won't stand up to each other, and who will join together to address the problems we're facing. We don't need more Republicans whose only goal is to oppose whatever the Democrats offer simply because it originated on the other side of the aisle. Nor do we need more Democrats who ram their own agenda through the legislative process simply because they can. We need unity.
Alfred T. Barnard, Beverly Hills
The day learning's light switched on April 19, commentary
Making a difference
I enjoyed Kathleen Parker's column so much I read it twice — with great pleasure.
In this time when the teaching profession is being divested of all its mystique, her story seems especially timely.
I would like to see a series in the paper devoted to readers' positive experiences in school classrooms with teachers who made the difference.
Margaret Radens, St. Petersburg