Bay area pays its respects | March 26
'Thank you' can never be enough
As we line the roads while your casket rolls by, what do we say to you, Army Spc. Zack Shannon? Surely, thank you is not enough for being willing to sacrifice your life for our country. What you have done reminds all of us of the beautiful young people who have been lost fighting the "wars of the old people."
It makes me wonder what your parents did to make you love your country so much. How very proud they must be while their hearts are breaking. We talk about sacrifice while forgetting the true meaning of the word.
I grew up in a family that had a history of fighting for our country all the way back to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II. And we were always so proud that our family was willing to sacrifice for our country. But we were fighting for a reason.
Now, as a country, we are wiser, and we look at our country invading other countries, starting unprovoked warfare and we watch the cream of our young people losing their lives while war has become a business where oil companies and companies like Halliburton get rich.
I bowed my head as you went by and said a prayer that America would no longer lose our wonderful young people to fighting wars. Our young people deserve something better.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
Embrace marriage equality March 25, editorial
Elections, not opinion polls
This article and several others recently in the Tampa Bay Times have used the results of a number of polls to suggest that the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. The problem with using poll results to determine public policy is that the response people give to pollsters is often different than that made on a ballot.
If we made decisions based on poll results, Mitt Romney might be president. There's only one poll that really means anything, and that's the one that's taken in the voting booth.
Kenneth Reikowski, Valrico
Don't redefine marriage
The Times' editors seem determined to continue down a slippery slope with their push to redefine marriage. The editorial headline calls it "marriage equality," but this is a euphemism for redefining marriage as something it has never been. Marriage has always been between opposite genders. "Equality" does not apply here.
What the word "equality" does is push the Times editorial board down a slippery slope. "Equality" can include plural marriages. One can agitate for marrying their dog or cat under "marriage equality."
At what point will the Times put the breaks on "marriage equality?"
Christopher Martinez, St. Petersburg
Politicians and their districts disconnect March 25, commentary
The elusive rational voter
Dylan Matthews acts like it is an earthshaking finding, if true, that constituents are on average 20 points less conservative than their elected representatives.
But to any of us of an even centrist bent, such a finding has an obvious genesis: Namely, a majority of human beings will tend to favor some new policy or program in the abstract, like universal health care, when this abstract question is removed from the context of actual implementation or funding of said policy.
Matthews seems to presume a rational, coherent archetypal citizen-voter, when in fact no such creature exists. Any pollster will tell you that large majorities favor both massive entitlements and not paying for them.
John V. Linton, Tampa
Bill links education, emotion March 26
Parents are in the mix
I am a part of the Pinellas County team that helps draft individualized education plans for students with disabilities. As a special education teacher, I follow very strict guidelines relating to parents' rights. They are given copies of the procedural safeguards pamphlet, which explains their legal rights, at every meeting. If a parent does not attend the scheduled meeting after two or more notices, the IEP cannot be initiated for seven to 10 days, giving parents time to dispute what has been written for their child.
Also, the goals are all based on testing results and classroom performance. After elementary school, if the student is more than two years behind in reading, math, etc., special diploma status may be initiated so that the student is not frustrated with assignments he or she cannot do. We all are mindful and respectful of how important a parent's status is as part of the IEP team.
Luverne Taylor, Clearwater
Unfair phone, TV taxes need reform March 25, editorial
Taxing satellite signals
Your opinion that local governments get less taxes because satellite TV is not taxed the same as cable TV is flawed. Cable TV has physical property in Florida and wires going to homes, whereas satellite TV does not.
I have satellite TV and am charged $14.66 per month Florida tax for the Choice package, HBO, Showtime and three receivers. I fail to understand why Florida taxes me for receiving entertainment from space, since Florida does nothing to deserve it.
Al Kamosa, New Port Richey
There's no free pass
I think you have the situation backwards. I recently changed to a satellite provider for my TV programming. As usual they give you pretty much everything free for three months. The surprising thing is, you pay tax on those freebies. So on a $51 bill there is $10 in tax, for a rate of about 20 percent.
Meanwhile in Florida, if you are wealthy and can afford a $200 million yacht or private jet, the state asks you to pay virtually no sales tax. I don't think satellite TV is the culprit here.
F.M. Younglove, Brandon
Budget debate has corkscrew twist March 25
Yale high jinks
I started reading the front page about a grant given Yale University to study ducks' sexual behavior. I checked the date. No, it was not April Fool's Day. Then I thought it was a joke by Yale students, as they are known at Vassar College for pulling jokes. Our "brother" school used to put black shoe polish on the black toilet seats.
Haylee Tyler, Clearwater