Cowboys and pit crews | June 12
All must work for better health
This was an insightful piece. I am a third-generation registered nurse, brought up with stories of adventures in the hospital setting. A great deal has changed, and the need for cooperation in the health team is important.
Dr. Atul Gawande brings up the struggle of change vs. ego as it relates to the delivery of health care. There are not enough dollars, doctors and hospitals to meet the needs of humans in this world. The responsibility each one of us has is to care for and nourish our bodies so that the actual numbers of those who need care will be manageable. We all must be on the team.
The need is evident for understanding on the correlation between eating fresh, whole foods and physical health. Illness and accidents will happen, and the medical profession needs to be there to heal us, but all the money in the world will not save us if we have reckless disregard for our own health.
It is not just obese children we need to focus on. All people regardless of size and age need to follow the recommendations for less processed, cheap food and much more real food. Many health problems can be traced back to a diet filled with processed food.
As Gawande said, people worldwide want and deserve the benefits of your capabilities. He was addressing the medical profession, but they cannot save us with out our willingness to save ourselves.
Rita Sewell, St. Petersburg
GOP field aims worst barbs at president June 14
In the Republican presidential debate last week, the candidates' blatant derision of the president was more than stunning; it was offensive.
Historically in this country, there has been a right-wing backlash when the economy has stumbled. But these candidates appeared to be basing their appeal on an unhinged radical propaganda. Here are just a few of the generalizations made:
"The Obama administration is an antijobs, antibusiness, anti-American-energy destructive force."
"He has turned his back on our allies and he has embraced our enemies."
"All we have to know is that the president deferred leadership in Libya to France — that's all we need to know."
This Rush Limbaugh-Fox News type of political rhetoric has apparently trickled up to the very top of the GOP.
Kimberly Trombley, St. Petersburg
Oil subsidies subvert free market functions June 13, commentary
Oil and gas pay fair share
The writers of this column have subverted an economic discussion on energy policy and misled readers by erroneously labeling tax credits as "subsidies." The tax credits they mention are similar to credits offered to all manufacturers across the United States. The misnomer "subsidies" has recently been applied in an attempt to specifically target the oil and natural gas industry for increased taxes.
Oil and natural gas companies pay their fair share — and more. In fact, they pay an effective tax rate of 41.1 percent compared to 26.5 percent for all other S&P Industrial companies. The industry generates $87 million per day to the federal government. These numbers don't sound like subsidies to me.
Given that the oil and natural gas industry also supports nearly 9.2 million American jobs and generates more than $1 trillion each year to the U.S. economy, we should focus our policy discussions on increasing domestic access to oil and natural gas. With smart decisions, we can have secure supplies from the United States and Canada that meet 92 percent of America's liquid fuel needs by 2030.
Dave Mica, executive director, Florida Petroleum Council, Tallahassee
Violators get off lightly
As the dust settles on the 2010-11 school year, we learn that more than 30 Florida school districts failed to comply with the class-size law. Some districts complained that the Legislature didn't provide funding, but since all districts receive the same per-student base allocations, that argument fails.
Not to fear: The Legislature and Department of Education developed a formula for penalizing noncompliant districts. Unfortunately, this plan has been winnowed down to near-meaninglessness.
Example: For spending $3 million over what was funded for compliance, Escambia County will receive a whopping $220,000, meaning $2.8 million was spent following the law in that county. Palm Beach County, on the other hand (the most noncompliant district) did not spend the estimated $59 million it would have had to spend to fully comply, and for that it will be penalized $4 million — meaning Palm Beach county saved as much as $55 million for its constituents through noncompliance. And apparently there will be no legal repercussions for its disregard of state law.
Jeff Bergosh, Escambia County School Board member, Pensacola
Fla. party chief vows changes | June 12
Candidates, ideas are key
Rod Smith, Florida's Democratic Party head, misses the mark as to what changes are needed in his political party.
Smith incorrectly advocates changes in the state's Democratic Party structure, its ways to campaign and raise money, as well as how to manage itself. Not once does he refer to the caliber of the party's candidates or the importance of ideology.
Former Democratic candidate Alex Sink, who ran for governor, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the party's current and only major officeholder in Florida, act more like conservative Republicans than liberals, progressives, or even moderate Democrats.
Smith fails to acknowledge that a significant share of his party is made up of progressives and even democratic socialists. Yet the party continues to embrace and support candidates who receive financial support and endorsements from the corporate and financial industries, and from interest groups beholden to monied self interests.
Florida Democratic Party members are not given the opportunity to indicate what positions on issues they support nor are they offered a choice of alternative candidates who might better represent their liberal and left-leaning philosophy and ideology.
Smith just does not get it. Unless the party changes its philosophy, it will continue to swing empty-handed in the wind.
Brian P. Moore, Spring Hill
A standardized path to school ruin | June 12
Class experience proves it
Many thanks for the article by Diane Ravitch. I am a teacher with over 30 years of experience, and this is what I too am seeing in the classroom.
Janet Caraballo, Valrico