No time to waste on climate change | April 14, editorial
True capitalists would go solar
An article by Mark Fischetti in Scientific American compiles 21 surveys of more than 20,000 Americans and demonstrates that about 75 percent agree that the climate is warming, and humans are responsible. Given the science and popular support, how would real leaders respond? Real capitalists would take entrepreneurial risks, offer new solutions, and compete in a dynamic marketplace.
Unfortunately, the timid capitalists at Duke Energy cling to their regulated monopoly and rely on campaign donations to maintain their privileged position. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu called the centralized fossil fuel energy business an obsolete business model in a death spiral.
Duke uses its monopoly to enrich stockholders while abusing customers and trashing the environment (burning coal, coal ash spills). Duke could use its vast resources to compete in the distributed solar photovoltaic industry. That would be the path for an honest capitalist who believes in the American ideal of entrepreneurial free-market capitalism.
Guy Hancock, Largo
Senate Bill 594
Smoke-free cars with kids
When parents smoke in the car it's like taking their children to a smoky bar. Legislators are finally working on this important children's health issue. Under Senate Bill 594, smoking in the car with minors will become a secondary offense — similar to texting and driving.
Smoke-free car policies have been successfully enforced in 10 states nationwide, and another 17 states have introduced similar laws. Now is the time for Florida to take action. This bill, introduced by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, supports children's health. We know that second-hand smoke harms children's health by increasing respiratory problems, ear problems, sudden infant death syndrome, and even premature death. Many of these problems lead to hospitalizations and school absences.
Even more, smoking around children is bad for the economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are over $700 million per year in medical costs for children exposed to second-hand smoke. By passing smoke-free car laws we can improve Florida's health and wealth. Contact your local representatives and ask them to support Senate Bill 594.
Alison Oberne, Brandon
Medicare reimbursements' tale of two eye drugs | April 16
Greed and waste
Two facts that jumped out of this article regarding two drugs used for macular degeneration.
First, Avastin (the cheaper choice, $50) and Lucentis (the much more expensive choice, $2,000) are both are produced by the same pharmaceutical company, Genetech.
Second, the federal government "cannot" negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices. I understand that this one sentence took almost eight hours of "wrangling" before the Medicare Part D program was signed into law — as the pharmaceutical lobby needed to (ahem) talk to congressmen in order to see how they might vote.
Genetech has refused to go to the FDA and get Avastin approved for use for macular degeneration as it is given in smaller doses and, therefore, their profits would decrease greatly. As Gordon Gecko said, "Greed is good."
My question is: Who is running the Medicare program, Health and Human Services or the pharmaceutical companies? When the House is trying to reduce costs and save the government money, why aren't they all over this?
Rosanne Paris, Palm Harbor
Reid's selective outrage | April 16, letter
Robbery under law
This letter writer chides Harry Reid (not that that's necessarily a bad thing) for calling the Koch brothers "un-American." He says that "if Reid thinks the Kochs are doing something … against the law, let him prove it."
In this context equating "un-American" with "the law" is truly an apples to oranges comparison. Here's why: Billionaires such as the Kochs often spend untold sums of money getting existing laws they dislike rewritten into more favorable (to them) laws that will then cheerfully not be broken. Citizens United comes to mind as does the more recent ruling to lift caps on campaign donations. Now more money can be given to more candidates eager to reward their donators' largesse by sponsoring favorable legislation.
Legal? Yes. Obscene? Yes. Un-American? Oh, yes.
Richard Downing, Hudson
They chose the NRA over your safety April 17, editorial
The choice of our legislators to acknowledge and support the Second Amendment, a fundamental birthright acknowledged and codified by the founders of this nation in the Bill of Rights, is being attacked by the Tampa Bay Times.
The Times stands in the shadow of another one of those unalienable rights, the First Amendment, for cover in its damnable attacks on the our individual right to defend ourselves, our families and our property. History teaches us what happens when the citizens of a nation lose the means to defend themselves from their own government as well as from thugs.
Perry Cross, Largo
Thank God for the representatives who voted to make it possible for all of the citizenry to be able to protect itself from the thugs who want to steal everything when an opportunity arises like a natural disaster. Thank you for letting us know who we should return to office at the next election.
Don Brown, Seminole