Insurers making plenty | Jan. 30, letter
Stock crash, rate hike may be tied
PIP is a red herring, deflecting attention from the larger issue. The question is why did a gigantic auto insurance rate increase occur throughout the United States in 2009. It is not explained by crashes, as traffic safety improved from 2007 to 2009 with decreasing fatalities, injuries and vehicle miles traveled.
In Florida, average auto insurance rates increased by 58 percent in just one year (averaging $1,055 in 2008 and $1,668 in 2009).
A more likely explanation for the large increase is the stock market crash of 2008. As my colleagues and I recently noted in a publication, in 2008, stock market returns were down by more than 37 percent, which was followed by large auto insurance increases nationwide in 2009.
State legislators should ask insurance regulators if they allowed insurance companies to include investment losses in justifying the large auto insurance increase in 2009. If true, then insurance policyholders are insuring insurance shareholders.
Insurance rates should be returned to 2008 levels, as traffic safety has improved and the stock market has recovered.
Barbara Langland Orban, Tampa
For Apple, American companies can't cut it Jan. 29
Partnership drives jobs
The article on why Apple manufactures in China rather than in the United States points out the biggest flaw in the Republican call for less and less government.
Apple chose to hire a Chinese company to make the glass screens for the iPhone because the Chinese factory could count on their government to underwrite expansion costs of a new factory to do the work. The government/private industry partnership made the difference. Of course, having a captive workforce that could be required to work six 12-hour days for $17 per day didn't hurt.
The only question I have is why do we not emulate Germany with higher wages than the United States, better health care, longer vacations for workers, and three times our manufacturing exports per capita? Then we would not have to depend on the Chinese.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
Nuance is absent in school rankings Jan. 29, John Romano column
Manipulating the data
Thank you, Mr. Romano, for your candid response to the ranking of Florida's school districts. You were right on target. Rankings without context can serve anyone's agenda, and Gov. Rick Scott is just the man to manipulate any data that can demean teachers.
I only wish that the article had made the front page instead of the sensationalism found in "Pinellas students are losing ground." Sure, that article made mention of our "test scores rising" and "cautioned against leaping to strong conclusions," but those comments were buried in the middle of the article and were but two sentences long.
Jane Burgos, Palm Harbor
Climate change's verdict Jan. 29, commentary
Majority doesn't rule
Science is an ongoing process, with new evidence from observation and experimentation constantly coming in, and a "final verdict" is never reached.
For example, when I was earning bachelor's and master's degrees in geology in the early 1970s, the prevailing theory was that the continents had formed through a process called "continental accretion" and had always been in their present locations. The observation that the west coasts of Europe and Africa appeared to "fit" the east coasts of North and South America was ascribed to coincidence. The then-new ideas of plate techtonics, sea-floor spreading, and continental drift were largely dismissed. Since then, new evidence has led to their acceptance.
Nor is science done by majority rule. That a majority of scientists accept a certain hypothesis is meaningless. The history of science is replete with examples of the overwhelming majority of scientists supporting theories that have since been disproved. Scientists know this, and know that new evidence may require theories to be modified or abandoned.
Tod H. Markin, St. Petersburg
Openness in foreign policy
In recent debates, candidate Newt Gingrich stated that the United States should not relax travel restrictions or other sanctions against Cuba. He suggested that such actions would bring about a "Cuban Spring" similar to the "Arab Spring" and that such a "Cuban Spring" could bring about the end of the Castro regime.
The United States has had a fairly open relationship with Egypt for many years. The relationship included over three decades of financial aid at the same time Hosni Mubarak was in charge. The "Arab Spring" in Egypt occurred with a minimum amount of outside intervention.
At the same time, the United States was an adversary of the Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya — similar to the relationship that Gingrich advocates with Cuba. The "Arab Spring" in Libya required massive military intervention by NATO, with substantial military support from the United States.
This all suggests to me that open relationships with nondemocratic countries are the correct way to encourage the development of democratic ideas in those countries.
Palmer O. Hanson Jr., Largo
Unplug Internet cafes | Jan. 30, editorial
The right to choose
The Internet cafes offer a social atmosphere where people can go and meet and have fun without getting drunk. If you close the Internet cafes, that will not stop gambling — it will only give the Hard Rock more business and more losses for the people as it costs a lot more at the casino than at the Internet cafes.
We should have the right to choose; this is America after all. Prohibition did not stop drinking; it just caused more crime. Let us have our pleasure and focus more on the drunken drivers who kill.
Linda McCauley, Palm Harbor
Value for your dollar
Scratch-off tickets take seconds to determine if you are a winner; playing an Internet machine can provide hours of entertainment for that same money. What is all the controversy about?
Jim Caputo, Spring Hill