Thursday, December 14, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Sunday's letters: IQ tests have limited uses

Help choose May's Letter of the Month

Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a Letter of the Month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.

Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for May by visiting the website listed below by Wednesday.

Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the Web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style.

The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.

To see the three May nominees and vote, go to

High court spares killer | May 28

IQ test's limited use

The latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling found fault with Florida's statute defining a specific IQ value of 71 as a standard for executions.

The IQ test was originally constructed for Parisian schools by the psychologist Alfred Binet during the early 1900s. It was designed to predict which children would need special assistance in their classwork, and was considered effective for that purpose.

Using this and later instruments to test "intelligence" has greatly helped educators to identify students with unique needs. It is infinitely more useful than most other assessment methods, but was never considered to be a measure of a child's total capability.

Binet considered the scores on his intelligence test to be limited and temporary, not a predictor of a student's success in life. He considered the test results highly dependent upon the child's environment.

Today, the IQ test is much improved but considered by many psychologists as invalid for many of the uses that have evolved since Binet.

The standard often used to define mental retardation in most cases is an IQ of 70. A person scoring below this level would be expected to be less successful in school than 97.8 percent of the population. This is not a valid determiner of whether a person "knows right from wrong," nor was it designed for this purpose.

Fred Prince, Tampa

What the founders meant by gun rights May 28, commentary

Freedom's paradox

I respond to the column on the Second Amendment with an observation about fear and the paradox of freedom. Owning a gun increases the freedom of the person who owns it but decreases the freedom of the community he or she lives in. It does that by decreasing his fear while increasing that of everybody else.

The right to keep a gun is statutory, not natural. Like every other statutory right, it can be changed. I say that as a lawyer.

The sick murderer in California decreased the freedom of the community, the nation, by scaring and distracting it. That will happen again. It will happen until the community gets fed up with having its freedom diminished and, instead, diminishes the freedom of persons in it.

Alan Jude Murley, Tampa

The meaning of gun rights

Bravo to Joe Nocera, who points out that the Second Amendment does not give everyone the right to bear arms — only a well-regulated militia. To me, this means the National Guard. Therefore, if you want to carry a gun, you must belong to the National Guard. Sign up now.

Barbara Counts, St. Petersburg

Scott admits, on climate change, he's no scientist | May 28

Science and sense

When asked if he thinks "man-made climate change is real and significant," Gov. Rick Scott replies, "I'm not a scientist."

I don't get it. He is not an educator, yet he cuts millions from public education. He is not a biologist, yet he actively promotes development over the health of Florida's wetlands and springs. Apparently a leader doesn't have to be an expert to act. He or she just needs to be informed by experts in order to act for the good of the people.

And what say nearly 100 percent of our expert climate scientists? Man-made climate change is real. Scott is also real — a real disaster.

Richard Downing, Hudson

Take down barriers to solar power May 25, editorial

Big return on investment

One aspect of the economics of solar power is the antiquated notion of "payback" — which should be called instead "tax-free return on investment."

This editorial cites a "six-year payback" for a commercial solar power system. This is a 16.5 percent return on investment, compared to a 1 or 2 percent taxable return on a certificate of deposit.

What sounds better: Wait six years to get "paid back" or make a 16.5 percent on your investment? The media keeps this negative concept alive by parroting the fossil fuel industry's words to criticize solar power as a bad investment.

A 16.5 percent return on investment is outstanding in today's market. My solar system just rewarded me with a zero dollar electric bill for March — quite a good tax-free return on my investment for the next 20 years.

Frank Arenas, Coleman

As scores go from bad to worse, no time to waste | May 29, editorial

Shift focus to families

Respectfully, your editorial seems to sidestep the broader meaning of the graphic attached to it. The editorial urges intervention in the schools. The chart, more pointedly, says that good education cannot surmount bad demographics. Lest demography continue as destiny, I suggest we shift our focus to families.

There is no doubt that the output of our educational system has declined over recent decades, but there is little evidence supporting a corresponding decline in instruction. Essentially, we test who is in a school, and not what happens in there. Many proven interventions, public and private, would improve the input, yet these receive little serious attention.

Our penchants for culpability and simplicity misdirect our focus. Our nostalgia for the 1950s is not for Mr. Chips; it is for a middle class with intact families.

Pat Byrne, Largo


Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Updated: 10 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17