Paul Ryan still a fan of Rand | Aug. 19, Bill Maxwell column
College inflation fueled by loans
I often agree with or respect Bill Maxwell's articles, but this opinion piece is not one of them. In it, he strongly disagrees with Paul Ryan's position that increased federal funding for student loans has led to a steady rise in tuition charged by universities and colleges.
Yet on the front page of Perspective, where the feature article discusses the cost of tuition at USF, one graph clearly shows support for Ryan's position and refutes Maxwell's. It shows that since the mid 1980s, while the Consumer Price Index has risen 125 percent, tuition and fees nationwide have risen 570 percent — twice the increase in medical costs.
When you know your student customer base has access to federal education loans and no longer has to rely exclusively on Mom and Dad and a part-time job, you bet the tuition and fees are going to go up. Basic economics says the more money your customers have to spend the more you charge them for the products.
Jack Brand, Hudson
Paul Ryan still a fan of Rand Aug. 19, Bill Maxwell column
Thank you for Bill Maxwell's column regarding the Republican candidate for vice president. As Maxwell says, this man is a lifelong follower of Ayn Rand. Any attempt to slide away from his history must be viewed as fraud and subterfuge. He and those of his political party are out to not only destroy the middle class but public education, Medicare and Social Security too.
Maxwell's column should be required reading for all in this country who intend to vote in November.
Barbara Hodges, Tarpon Springs
$20,000 | Aug. 19
USF is a bargain
Your Sunday Perspective on the high cost of college commits a cardinal sin of journalism: skewing facts to fit a predetermined story or cultural prejudice. The giant $20,000 banner shouts the cost of a year at USF, except that $13,060 (64 percent) of that figure is made up of "housing, meals and personal expenses." Last I heard, you still have to pay for these things whether you're at USF or not. Not to mention the fact that a very large percentage of the school's students are commuters. Of course an honest $7,334 banner might have evoked the exact opposite reaction to what you intended.
Then after noting that 45 out of 50 states have higher college tuition than Florida, the piece juxtaposes that with "Yes but …" and a graph of how high the national rate of inflation has been for colleges. Why didn't you add a third line showing how dramatically Florida had bucked this trend over the same time period? That's the real positive story here.
USF is a bargain. It offers educational excellence far beyond what can reasonably be expected for the funding it receives. It is a critical economic engine for the future of Tampa Bay, and at a time when the state's Republicans want to "improve" education by gutting it, needs all the help it can get.
An interesting college story that needs to be investigated is how the explosion in the number and pay of administrators in colleges over the last 20 years has contributed to that insane national rate of inflation.
Robert Clark, Tampa
What? The stimulus worked | Aug. 19
A million little stimuli
My sister and her husband have a small business. It started out as auto glass but had to diversify to window glass to survive competition from franchises of the insurance companies. The winter after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was implemented, I asked her if their business was doing okay. She assured me they were; in fact, they had won a couple of bids for upgrading windows in local schools and had to hire some extra help.
No, this piece of the stimulus didn't create a million jobs, but those school districts are saving money on heating costs and my sister was able to keep her trained workers through the worst of the recession. My guess is that there are literally millions of similar stories out there. I just wish more of those who benefited would tell their stories.
Pamela Muller, St. Petersburg
Not only is this election cycle producing more extreme statements and positions, but our entire electoral process is showing severe signs of stress. That stress has created a dysfunctional electoral process.
• Voter turnout: Less than 60 percent of voters will bother to turn out for the general election in November. Changes need to be made to promote higher voter turnout, including Saturday and Sunday voting, or making Election Day a national holiday.
• No paper trail: Until there is a foolproof paper trail, there will be doubt about the veracity of the vote. Computer experts have indicated that voting machines can be hacked to throw elections.
• Electoral College: The Electoral College needs to be abolished. If we want a true representative democracy, the person who gets the most votes ought to be elected.
• Voter repression: This has reared its ugly head again in states with Republican majorities in their legislatures and Republican governors. We have voted for our entire history without the need for photo ID. There is no voter fraud sufficient to suppress the votes of thousands who will lose their legitimate right to vote.
Mark Brandt, Dunedin
Matter of fairness
Under normal circumstances Mitt Romney's tax returns are not relevant; he is just another citizen paying the legal rates. But he is running for president. It is important to know what he is paying. The question is not whether he is paying the legal rate, but a fair rate.
When I consider candidates for the presidency, I would like to know they are batting for the people, not their bank account.
Carlo Salmeri, Seminole
Republican National Convention
Crimes, not protests
I am becoming seriously concerned about the proposed antics of the "protesters" coming to the Republican convention. Someone was stockpiling bricks on the roof of a building in the convention area. Another protester was quoted as saying "We won't target ordinary citizens." It sounds as if they are going to target law enforcement officers.
A brick thrown from a multistory building is a deadly weapon. I hope that the local law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties recognize these actions as such and don't just treat them as normal protesters.
Alfred J. D'Amario, Hudson