Corporations and conscience | Dec. 1, Robyn Blumner column
Corporations push their beliefs
Corporate executives who are seeking an exemption from providing employees contraception coverage are showing yet another side of corporate greed and megalomania. The purpose of incorporating is to provide a separate legal entity for personal asset protection and limited liability of debts and obligations. When a corporation is formed, personal liability or conscience is relinquished for the benefits of monetary protection and security.
The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood want their cake and to it eat it too. They want all the benefits of protecting their personal wealth by hiding behind a legal shield, while at the same time pulling back that same corporate veil to insert their selective religious beliefs upon a distinct population within their corporate environment: women.
The claims of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood reek of ego, greed and discrimination.
M.A. Russell, South Pasadena
Iowa in the Amazon | Dec. 1
Sustainable Florida farms
This was one of the most information-laden agricultural articles ever published in the Times. It adds needed clarity to two types of farming that are practiced here in Florida: "low-productivity pasturing" and "high-calorie" crop farming. As the article states, "In the coming decades we will need to produce a lot more food." Choices will have to be made between small, low-producing, nonsustainable organic farms and large, highly productive, sustainable crop farms.
It appears that the pasturing of cattle is being replaced by sustainable vegetable and fruit production. Florida will need to produce more nutrients on fewer acres as our population grows.
What will be the economic choice in Florida: the unsustainable or the sustainable?
John B. Weber, Spring Hill
Obama unveils new HIV initiative | Dec. 3
U.S. leads on AIDS fight
I applaud President Barack Obama's commitment to combat AIDS with new research and a pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The administration's support and bipartisan congressional action have made great strides against these diseases and saved millions of lives.
We cannot drop the ball now, especially since every dollar we contribute up to $5 billion will be matched with $2 from other Global Fund donors. The fund's executive director Mark Dybul says, "Invest now or pay later."
Preventing the spread of these diseases is an arena where U.S. leadership is unquestioned. We can all be proud.
Linda Schatz, Tampa
Sex trafficking in spotlight | Nov. 30
Awareness brings progress
Why is it that there are commercials on television urging watchers to donate in order to help rescue abused animals, but nothing about stopping the abuse of human beings? Three hundred thousand children under the age of 18 are drawn into the sex trafficking industry each year. When the subject of human trafficking arises, most people shake their heads in sadness and briefly feel a twinge of sorrow for all those poor children overseas who are being sold for sex. Little do they know, it happens frequently in the United States, probably in their own city.
The average age of females being trafficked is 12 to 14 — these children would be only middle schoolers. The Justice Department estimates that of the 450,000 U.S. children who run away from home each year, at least one-third end up homeless and lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. Florida has one of the highest occurrences of human trafficking in the United States, with Orange County leading the state in the number of cases.
However, on Jan. 1, 2013, the Safe Harbor Act went into effect in Florida. It aims to ensure safety for child victims of sex trafficking and protect them from doing time for prostitution, while also providing them with safe homes and treatment.
The most important way to bring about change is awareness. Countless stories exist about a friend noticing suspicious behavior among peers and reporting it. If informed individuals know what to look for, we would unquestionably see a rise in convictions of trafficking leaders.
Kayla Larzani, Kissimmee
Routes are eyesores
Driving in northwestern Hillsborough County, especially with an out-of-town visitor, is an embarrassment. Major roads, specifically West Busch Boulevard/Gunn Highway, West Fletcher, West Bearss/Ehrlich Road and Van Dyke Road are eyesores.
The medians are so overgrown with weeds that in many places the weeds are the same height as my automobile. The sides of the roads are trash-strewn and overgrown. Most of North Dale Mabry Highway, just out of Tampa city limits, is a Third World zoning travesty. There seems to be a double standard compared to routes that a tourist is likely to travel on.
My demand as a taxpayer is that before you spend any more citizen money on baseball stadiums and fishing tackle stores, clean your own house.
David Cardina, Tampa
Milk prices hinge on new farm bill Dec. 6
High cost of low wages
Cutting food stamps would seem like an easy thing to do, what with all those loafers on the federal dime and all.
Interestingly, approximately 40 million of those 47 million Americans who rely on this benefit would not qualify if the federal minimum wage were a living wage.
Any head of household with two kids working an entry-level position at Walmart, for instance, qualifies for food stamps and other assistance.
The cry from the extreme right that raising the minimum wage would cost jobs is just plain wrong and has been disproved time and again since the federal minimum wage was enacted.
Let's cut the corporate welfare and instead focus on our citizens. ExxonMobil, for example, certainly does not need a subsidy.
Dan Fiorini, St. Petersburg