Casualties of gambling | April 17
Help is available to treat gambling addiction
The sad story about the financial losses of Scott Dennison and his family because of his wife's gambling problem point up the need for wider recognition of the compulsive, addictive components of gambling. While such stories are heart-rending and attention-grabbing, it would have served the public more if the article included information on the dynamics of compulsive gambling (recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an addictive disease), and listed places where family members and problem gamblers can seek help, e.g., Gamblers Anonymous or the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.
Primarily discussing Jennifer Dennison as a criminal serves to perpetuate stereotypes of people as deviants. Instead, it is worth discussing the role of government in promoting gambling activities that can adversely affect 1 to 3 percent of the population who have psychological and biological predispositions to abuse such activities.
It's always easier to blame the victim than look at how society's institutions promote such behavior.
H. Roy Kaplan, Tampa
Internet poker houses charged with fraud April 16
The Declaration of Independence says every citizen has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Justice Department's action in blocking U.S. players from online poker sites, without first obtaining a guilty verdict, pretty much renders the above guarantee worthless.
Why should my poker business be shut down in the short term, and virtually all of my substantial poker money be locked away indefinitely, while the Justice Department takes months to sort this matter out?
It's time to find a new country to live in, pay tax to, and work from.
Kenneth Borror, Brandon
City ready to add red light cameras | April 15
Solution seeking a problem
The St. Petersburg City Council's approval of red light cameras is a solution to a problem they have yet to define. As the article states, the city now has to find the problem and "decide which 19 intersections will get cameras." The city will likely agree to pay vendor ATS $1.1 million a year for this program.
If a problem is identified at an intersection, will the council inquire as to the best solution? It might be increasing the yellow light timing, which can virtually eliminate red light running. But I suspect it will be their preapproved solution, to be implemented regardless of the characteristics and conditions of the intersection.
Etienne Pracht, Lithia
A wakeup call for safety in the skies April 16, editorial
Check for sleep disorders
As someone who discovered as an adult that I've had sleep disorders since I was a child, I suggest that air traffic controllers should be required to have a sleep study as a condition of employment.
There are many people in many professions who are fatigued and have no idea why. Many of them could have sleep apnea, narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness, or other related problems.
Some professions are more risk-prone than others, and maybe it is time for a hard look at the sleep lives of employees in these professions — employees we depend on to keep us safe.
Frederick Kann, Sun City Center
It's not just controllers
Air traffic controllers are not the only ones sleeping on the job.
When my husband was in the hospital, he turned on his bedside light for a nurse. When no one came, he got out of bed and went to the nursing station. The nurse was covered with a blanket with her head on the desk, sleeping.
My husband complained to his doctor and she was suspended for two days. This happens more then we know or hear about.
Ruth Vinson, Holiday
House okays GOP spending plan | April 16
Make them pay their way
Rep. Paul Ryan says "we cannot keep spending money we don't have" and proposes turning Medicare into a voucher slip for private insurance companies.
I can think of a better way to save some money. Let's eliminate the government health plan for all elected officials, state and federal. This will let them go out and buy a health plan for themselves from the private sector. That sounds like less government spending to me.
William Shumaker, Tampa
Income taxes and the deficit
How much more?
A recent letter writer wants the very wealthy to pay more taxes than they do now. But the top 1 percent of earners now pay 38 percent of all income tax. How much more does he want? The bottom 50 percent of working Americans pay only 2 percent of income taxes collected, and most of them pay no income tax at all.
Let's look at some other factors of the Eisenhower era. That was before we had Medicare, Medicaid and Supplementary Security Income. It was a time when the national debt was $300 billion, as compared to today's $14.3 trillion.
Yes, I would like to go back to the Eisenhower era when people were responsible for their own destiny and well-being, before we became a nanny state where people rely on the government to take care of them.
Thomas Varnum, North Redington Beach
FairTax is sensible reform
I support a plan that incorporates flat and fair aspects of tax reform: It is called the FairTax. This plan has been developed by several liberal economists.
The FairTax uses a rebate system to be fair to all — welfare recipients to multimillionaires. This "prebate" comes to each citizen, based on family size — nothing else — and arrives each month just like our other federal subsidy programs (Social Security, etc.) The amount is calculated to cover the taxes on necessities that all must buy each month.
The tax is collected by the merchant when you buy toothpaste, new shoes, a new car, a new home and everything in between. Notice the word "new." If you buy used items, there is no tax. It has another advantage in that it encourages savings, as taxes are only paid on money spent on new products.
This tax system would totally eliminate all other federal taxes (the list includes the 60-plus taxes currently collected by the feds), none of which existed in the early 1900s. This plan also eliminates the Internal Revenue Service and its tremendous expenses to collect annual taxes.
Support is gradually growing in Congress, and with more citizen support this FairTax concept can at least make it to the House for an up or down vote. Get involved — support the FairTax.
R.L. Anderson, Spring Hill