Medicare for me but nothing for you — really? | July 22, Robyn Blumner column
Let's put an end to the selfishness
The statistics in this column indicating that older Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act reminded me of a confrontation I had three months ago with a senior citizen. I am also a senior citizen and am thankful that my wife and I have Medicare.
I was going into a store and noticed an older man with a hand-printed sign on the hood of his car, railing against Obamacare to anyone who would listen. As I walked past him he grabbed me by the arm and thrust a CD into my hand and told me that I needed to play it to learn how terrible Obamacare was and that it was a government takeover of our health care system.
I said that statement was not true and he knew better. I then asked why it was okay for him to have access to health care at an affordable cost (Medicare), but not those who are poor or lost their jobs through no fault of their own. His response was that I did not understand the problem or what the cost was going to be.
I said that was possible, but he still didn't answer why he got to have health care and others less fortunate didn't. He had no response; he just stood there glaring at me.
Frankly, I don't understand the apparent greed, anger and lack of compassion that some of my generation have demonstrated.
Chuck Wolowitz, Largo
Medicare for me but nothing for you — really? and Learning to be a doctor for real | July 22
Lessons from the real world
These two columns in Perspective presented quite a dichotomy. On the one hand, with the assistance of robots, the medical student Ravi Parikh is going to cure his patients and make sure, somehow, that every one of them receives their prescriptions and makes it to his clinic. Medical students get an excellent education with robots who have simulated illnesses, and they are given information on how to evolve their practices in the social and business world of today.
But their view is completely shielded from what goes on in the actual world of medicine, as Robyn Blumner noted. People are losing their jobs and insurance, patients can't afford the numerous medications to treat their illnesses, insurance companies are dictating what doctors can order and prescribe for their patients, and senior citizens are still falling through doughnut holes.
You can learn anatomy and you can learn what diseases are related to combinations of signs and symptoms, but the first time a patient describes a symptom that has no physiological basis or tells you that his three months' worth of prescriptions lasted seven months, or he didn't go to the specialist that you wanted him to see, well, students will find out that most of what you learn about treating patients is in the field and not in robots' software.
David Lubin, M.D., Tampa
The. Worst. Congress. Ever. | July 22
The primary cause
Congressional polarization has escalated since the 1960s. I am convinced that a major portion of the cause is the proliferation of closed primaries in states since that time. Closed primaries only allow voters registered for a specific party (Democratic or Republican) to vote. They encourage candidates to ramp up their primary campaigns to cater to the their parties' hard-liners.
Primary elections are low-participation elections to begin with, and when the candidates cater to the far left, or far right, they further alienate voters who are more moderate, further cutting down potential participation by those voters.
The outcome that is a small percentage of the far right and far left of each party in many states in their primaries choose the candidates that draw the preponderance of voters, and the most divisive candidates end up running against each other in the general election, winning and representing us in an increasingly dysfunctional Congress.
I believe that open primaries would help this issue by making candidates represent all the people and giving a chance to candidates who were not playing just to the fringes.
Sharry Arnold, Clearwater
A Congress we deserve
It is difficult to dispute this assessment of the 112th Congress. A recent poll indicated that 64 percent of the American people think that Congress is the problem, not the solution.
If nine out of 10 members of a corporate board thought their CEO was doing a bad job, he or she would be fired and replaced. Members of Congress have languished with an approval rating of around 10 percent for years, yet over the last 20 years they have been re-elected 85 percent of the time. Why? Generally people think their representative is okay; it's the others who are the problem.
Unfortunately, this ignores a basic tenet of a representative republic: Finding common ground and compromising is necessary to accomplishment. At this, the 112th Congress has collectively been a dismal failure.
The American people have deserved what they have experienced over the past four years, and they will deserve what comes to them over the next four. Please be as informed as you can, think about what's important long-term, and above all vote.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Pinellas pokes holes in 'myth' of sandbag defense | July 25
Stopping the waves
The story is correct that sandbags do no stop water penetration. However, they are essential for stopping wave action from either storm surge and/or vehicles driving down your street.
These vehicles make waves that wash into our homes when water is at our doorstep. The city I live in would not restrict traffic on our roads during Tropical Storm Debby, which should have been closed due to street flooding of salt water and rain. Since the city wouldn't restrict traffic, I had to take it upon myself to make sandbags for my home and others.
I guess when budgets were "flush" with taxpayer dollars, sandbags worked. I think the proper way for Pinellas to handle the sandbags is to provide the bags and educate the public as to their proper usage.
Chris Fiser, Treasure Island
Synthetic pot seized | July 26
Legalize and regulate
When will America realize the never-ending war on drugs has not worked and it is time to find alternative solutions, like legalizing cannabis. The whole reason why Americans started to buy products like Gold Spice and K2 is because they could not get the real stuff. You regulate and tax cannabis like tobacco and alcohol and you will not have the problem of a fake cannabis.
Devin Wittcoff, Tampa