Insurance industry's excuses fall flat | Feb. 12, letter
Discounts hit insurers' solvency
Property insurance rates have not gone up by the percentage this letter claims — and that data comes straight from insurance regulators. With state-mandated discounts factored in, property insurance rates were pushed down by 30 percent from the second quarter of 2007 through the end of 2009. Providing these required discounts is what hurt insurers' solvency, plain and simple.
It's also irksome to have someone dismiss the fraud that makes sinkhole claims a man-made catastrophe. A state Senate sinkhole report issued in December showed evidence from one insurer that 79 percent of claimants represented by a public adjuster or lawyer on a sinkhole claim did not repair their home — and 58 percent of those people either paid off their mortgage with the claims money or sold the unrepaired home.
Some people may think that doesn't mean it is outright fraud, but it sure seems close to the edge.
Lynne McChristian, Insurance Information Institute, Brandon
First, help our own
We are the wealthiest country on the planet. So why do we have so many homeless and so many people having to choose between medicine and food? Here are some ways our government can stop these injustices.
First, bring back servicemen and women stationed in over 50 countries around the world. The billions of dollars we send to other countries every year could be used to help the homeless build housing for themselves.
Next, if we can manufacture it, grow it or produce it in America, it should not be be imported. This would surely help bring back some of the millions of jobs that Americans have lost to foreign countries. We have too many Americans standing in unemployment lines — wearing pants from Taiwan, shoes from Italy, shirts from China — asking, Where did my job go?
We as Americans can help ourselves by buying only American-made goods.
Willie Haddix, New Port Richey
Florida Retirement System
I am a Florida resident but was employed for 30 years in law enforcement in New Jersey. A mandatory contribution of 7.5 percent was deducted from my salary for my entire career.
Florida's severe budget deficit would indicate that employees must contribute to their pensions so they can receive their benefits in the future. Florida is one of the last states not requiring that employees contribute to their pensions.
I support Gov. Rick Scott in his endeavors to balance the budget. It will be difficult, but it's the proper thing to do for the long-term survival of this state.
Charles M. Griffin, St. Petersburg
A dramatic end and hopeful start | Feb. 12, editorial
Obama's naive policies
Although it may not have been intended, your editorial pointed out the waffling and naive foreign policy of President Barack Obama's administration.
I recall that candidate Obama mocked both Hillary Clinton, in the primary debates, and John McCain, in the debates leading up to the general election, for the way they would have conducted foreign policy. His supporters cheered when he, as an example of how he would put a new face on the conduct of foreign diplomacy, promised that he would sit down face to face with the Iranian president within 16 months of taking office. Of course, he didn't do that. But this was an example of his being out of touch.
So it comes as no surprise that his State Department was blissfully unaware of how close Egyptians were to the tipping point. What worries me is the possibility that all those folks who were shouting "Down with Mubarak!" last week will be shouting "Death to America!" within the next few years.
David Brown, Sun City Center
Bush deserves some credit
Now that everyone is happy with the recent revolution in Egypt, I am waiting for the politicians and the media to acknowledge the role that former President George W. Bush played. After all, didn't his administration topple the dictator Saddam Hussein and introduce democracy to Iraq as well as drive out the Taliban and introduce democracy to Afghanistan? Isn't it probable that these actions helped motivate the recent demonstrations in Egypt, Iran and Algeria?
Douglas Nielsen, Belleair
Health care law
Subsidies already exist
Those who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act should consider that the annual tax breaks extended to employers for their insurance programs dwarf the projected annual cost of the entire health care law. Therefore, those who do not get insurance from their employers are nevertheless forced to subsidize the insurance provided to those who do get insurance from their employers.
So, to those in favor of repeal: Do you approve of subsidizing the insurance provided to people with good jobs with good benefits but oppose subsidizing insurance for those who are less fortunate?
Mark Rains, Temple Terrace
Courting Jeb and Hope | Feb. 12, 13
No more, please
Please not another Bush for public office. Didn't his brother do enough harm? I certainly hope Jeb continues to say no.
Jean Centore, New Port Richey
Money woes echo for Janssen | Feb. 11
Regardless of one's perspective on Julie Janssen's performance as Pinellas County school superintendent, the Times' front-page article on her personal affairs is both invasive and ill-considered. Is there any one of us who has always exercised perfect judgment?
Janssen is not a politician; she is an appointed leader. Her personal affairs should have been respected as just that: personal. Only if her job performance were affected should the Times have spotlighted her life such as it did.
The Times used poor judgment in publishing this prurient piece.
Coleen E. Sams, Palm Harbor
Deficit fight for freedom | Feb. 14, commentary
The expense of wars
I usually find David Brooks' articles sensible and well-reasoned. However in this one I wish he had mentioned for the consideration of the "courageous senators" he mentioned cutting back on the huge expenses of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will take courage to question the efficacy of these hugely expensive military operations which, I believe, should give way to peaceful, person-centered operations.
Edward L. Mooney, St. Petersburg
Iwo Jima anniversary
Remember their sacrifice
An obituary in this week's Times noted the passing of a World War II Marine who fought and was wounded on Iwo Jima. Saturday marks the 66th anniversary of the start of that terrible battle. Most people have seen the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, which was used in designing the Marine Corps War Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery.
What seems to be forgotten is the price paid in lives — more than 6,800 Marines, Navy and Army personnel, as well as 20,000 Japanese military. More than 20,000 Americans were wounded and 27 Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded.
We who survived are deeply grateful to our comrades who made the supreme sacrifice. World War II veterans are passing from the scene at a rate of more than 1,000 a day. Please pause for a moment to honor their memory and sacrifice.
Donald Pero, Pinellas Park
Budget tinkering won't dent deficit | Feb. 16, editorial
Not a budget buster
It's disappointing that this editorial connects Social Security and the budget deficit. Social Security is funded by workers and has a surplus. If you think Social Security needs an overhaul, fine. But leave the deficit out of it.
R. Scott Blank, St. Petersburg