A health care system that is second to many | Dec. 5
Market forces could reduce costs
Robyn Blumner's column argues that the U.S. health care system is more expensive and less effective than systems in Europe.
The assumption that private enterprise is the cause of health care cost escalation is fundamentally flawed. U.S. health care, far from being an unregulated bastion of unrestrained free enterprise, is one of our most highly regulated industries. Most Americans receive tax-subsidized health care insurance through their employers, and state mandates make it impossible for the uninsured to purchase insurance across state lines.
The one bright spot to health care cost escalation is elective and or cosmetic surgery. Since these procedures are not covered by tax-subsidized, employer-provided insurance, the free market has worked its magic to constantly drive down costs for these procedures.
With a little ingenuity and creativity, we can create a uniquely American way to provide universal coverage for all Americans without bankrupting the country or providing substandard care. It's called the free market.
John Kriegsmann, Land O'Lakes
Death rates not only data
This column should come with warning signs about cherry-picked research and skewed data.
Using U.S. mortality rates to indict our health care system doesn't make sense because mortality statistics do not separate the reasons why people need health care from the quality of care received.
A quick glance through World Health Organization statistics shows that our death rates due to traffic fatalities and violence are twice those of other advanced nations.
Similarly, U.S. death rates due to HIV/AIDS are multiple times those of other advanced countries — not because of poor medicine, but because the incidence of AIDS in the United States is multiple times that in those countries.
Rolf H. Parta, Bradenton
Bacon … or pork? | Dec. 5
Taxpayers being scammed
Your article misses some important facts regarding the use of earmarks by our elected officials.
It's not just the value of the earmarks but the fact that they are used to influence votes on other legislation worth billions. In the real world this is called bribery.
Earmarks are secretly slipped into important legislation, at the last minute, to assure passage. In the real world this is called sleight of hand.
Earmarks are added to the deficit and are funded by borrowing more money and requiring interest payments for years to come. In the real world this is called "digging the hole deeper."
A local official told me, "If we don't get it somebody else will." That is simply greed.
The truth is, earmarks cost the taxpayers billions more than the public is advised. The taxpayers are being scammed.
Jim Harpham, Palm Harbor
Root cause of corruption
Thanks for this informative article on earmarks from our representatives in Congress. I hope you follow up with a report as to how many and how much those who received these earmarks contributed to the campaigns of their benefactors.
Although many of these earmarks went to worthy and perhaps needed projects, this earmark process is a root cause of corruption of our public officials and should be terminated and replaced by a process that is transparent and does not contribute to the excesses that are evident today.
Jay D. Jennings, Brooksville
Bloggers and editors apparently assume that anyone who is disappointed with Barack Obama is a liberal. Nonsense. I worked for, donated to and voted for Obama (never again) not to advance some liberal agenda but to halt the slide into neomonarchy begun in the Reagan years.
Obama has shown himself to be an incompetent manager, a visionless planner, a befuddled strategist, a weak negotiator, and a frighteningly inept judge of people — friends and enemies alike.
I have little in common with either the liberal or conservative agenda as I understand them. I am in far greater agreement with the sentiments and warnings of Tom Paine's Common Sense, written in 1775. The danger then is the same as now — the power of enriched aristocracy over the public.
Jim Williams, Homosassa
Three myths in the news
Three subjects much in the news are largely myth: middle class, too big to fail, and entitlement.
There is no middle class in America. We have only two: the working class and the leisure class.
The working class consists of the nation's producers of wealth. Some of them are rich, well-paid for their ingenuity, creativity and productivity. Some are poor. But all are earners.
The leisure class consists of all who do not work: children, retirees, unemployed, handicapped. Some are wealthy, living well on saved or inherited resources. Some are in abject poverty. But rich or poor, all are nonproducers of goods or services that create wealth.
There is nothing too big to fail — no company, no agency, no government, including the United States.
Except for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," there are no entitlements. Our Constitution guarantees us certain rights protecting us from the federal government.
We have no "right" to Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, or any other governmental program that takes money from the working class and redistributes it to the leisure class.
Norm Lucas, Tampa
Lack of shared sacrifice
In October 1942, Congress passed the largest tax bill in history, $9 billion ($121 billion in today's dollars) to pay for World War II.
The measure imposed a victory tax of 5 percent on earnings over $12 a week (now $161); reduced exemptions; and raised rates from 4 percent to 6 percent. Added to that was a graduated surtax of 13 percent to 82 percent. Corporate taxes went from 15 percent to 19 percent for the first $25,000 (now $335,000), and 24 percent on income over that. And we were coming out of the worst Depression in history.
What is the matter with this generation? And Congress?
Howard M. Jensen, Largo
Scott begins jobs tour | Dec. 7
Let me see if I have this right:
Gov.-elect Rick Scott wants to create jobs in Florida. And he wants to create a film of his tour.
So why did Scott hire a California company to film the tour? Nice way to lead by example.
Cindy Gamblin, Dunedin