America had a good year | Dec. 23, Robyn Blumner column
Bad year for economy, our liberty
Robyn Blumner thinks America had a good year in 2012. I respectfully disagree.
In 2012, we had 23 million Americans who were unemployed or underemployed. The majority of 2012's college graduates could not find a job in their field or any job at all. The economy suffered through anemic economic growth. Our dysfunctional political class focused only on dividing the country and their own selfish individual enrichment. Our government could not defend one of its consulates despite advance warning, resulting in the unnecessary death of four Americans.
And most importantly, we saw the continuing deterioration of our liberty and privacy via the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and an increasingly intrusive government that reads and collects our emails, social media postings, telephone calls, etc.
No, 2012 was not a good year. Given that the same political types still reside in the White House and Congress, I see little hope that 2013 is going to be much better.
Walter Korschek, Palm Harbor
Syria sees rebel gains | Dec. 26
Rebels aren't democrats
If it were not so serious it might be funny. Here we go again, lending support to the rebels in Syria in both words and I strongly suspect weapons. How did that work out in Egypt ? How do you think it's going to work out in Libya?
These rebels are not democrats; they are mostly religious radicals. I say you are better off with a dictator rather than a country being run by religious zealots.
Dan Mason, Tampa
Poor results from red-light cameras | Dec. 20
Drivers are to blame
If you are driving and you rear-end the car in front of you, it is your fault, not the other driver's, and definitely not the yellow traffic light ahead. You were driving too fast and too close for the traffic conditions, which include approaching a traffic light of any color.
The Times does a disservice to us all by emphasizing the increase in rear-end accidents when red-light cameras are installed and not taking to task the drivers who are responsible for the crashes. A camera never hurt anyone, but driving too fast and too close can and does.
Paul W. Holland, St. Petersburg
Light rail is gaining support | Dec. 27
Yes, but will they ride?
With regards to light rail, the pollsters asked the wrong question. Instead of asking whether respondents are willing to use public money to fund light rail, they should have asked whether people would use the light rail if it were built.
Pollsters should also ask if the people supporting light rail have ever used the current train. The summer rate from Tampa to Orlando is $12. Further, ask if they have ever used any public transportation in the past year. Surely, a public bus has gone close to where they wanted to go at least once.
My guess is that a majority of the people willing to pay for light rail will not use it for one simple reason: It is easier to drive yourself. The only way to make public transportation a reality is to make it less convenient to drive. People take the train from the suburbs of New York into the city because there is not enough parking for everybody. If they built a thousand more parking spaces, a thousand more would drive to the city.
We cannot and should not simultaneously spend money making better roads and making better public transportation. If you want public transportation, the only solution is to make it more inconvenient to drive.
Martin Keiner, Tampa
Many happy returns | Dec. 27
Carts aren't playpens
As manager of an off-price retail establishment with a staff of 60 employees, I take exception to the four-column image that was part of "Many happy returns" in your newspaper. Shopping carts are provided for the convenience of our customers and not as a playpen to entertain/confine children during that process.
We find ourselves in constant vigil, warning children and insensitive parents of the dangers involved with such practice. One boy, distracted by a toy in each hand, is shown standing in the cart, while another is on his head tussling within it. The slightest motion to that cart and the four wheels it rests on can send that child and his toy to the floor on his head.
Litigation and serious injury notwithstanding, it suggests what we fearfully describe as "poor parenting skills." It's hardly something for your paper to endorse.
Sharon Alvarez, Sun City Center
Look around community
As one who has extensive experience as a volunteer and board member of several local nonprofits over the years, I have some suggestions for those who wish to make an impact in charitable giving in Tampa Bay.
First, never respond to or give information to a telephone solicitor. It is the rare exception for them to be legitimate representatives of a charity. Their percentage of the take that goes to the charity rarely exceeds 25 percent.
Second, check out Guidestar on the Web to see if the charity of your choice is listed and how they rank.
Third, look around your own community. Worthy organizations such as the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, CASA, PARC, All Children's Hospital, Great Explorations and dozens of others will open their doors and records to you any time with full transparency and candor. You can see the end use of your charitable giving firsthand. Better yet, in addition to your money, you can volunteer your time at these places, providing expertise and caring hands. What a New Year's resolution: Volunteer!
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg