Obama blocks new air quality standard | Sept. 3
Missed chance to clean up our air
Floridians should be appalled at the Obama administration's failure to protect families from car and truck pollution. Gas-guzzling vehicles generate smog and inflame our lungs, but the president just delayed issuing stronger protections until at least 2013.
By delaying new smog protections, President Barack Obama has sentenced our children to years of more deadly air pollution that is making us sick from asthma attacks and heart disease. Also vulnerable are our senior citizens and anyone who suffers with upper respiratory problems. We have successfully banned cigarette smoking in public places to reduce harmful effects of that type of pollution. But the pollution generated by vehicles is a far greater hazard to the public.
Why do oil companies matter more than our children? Smog pollution costs us billions of dollars in health costs each year. Obama missed his chance to clean up the air for future generations.
I will watch carefully to see if the president breaks any more promises. There is too much at stake to let anything get in the way of science. What happened to his campaign promise to promote green energy?
Susan Rosetti, Tampa
Obama's political strategy
Watching President Barack Obama's address to Congress, I kept thinking I was in a time warp. We spent almost a trillion dollars on the first stimulus, and it did create jobs — at a cost of roughly $270,000 each. Now this Ivy League community organizer wants to dole out another $470 billion to again "jump-start the job market." Read: buy votes.
Obama hopes to shame Congress into going along with this campaign gimmick in hopes of improving his poll numbers. Saying "Congress needs to pass this now" numerous times, he again put himself in the position of being able to blame Republicans and tea party activists if the proposal does not meet congressional muster. That is very likely, given the dire financial situation we are in and the fact that the president did not explain where the funds would come from other than leaving it up to Congress to make cuts elsewhere.
This speech was not about creating jobs but the illusion of doing so in order to save a presidency in utter disarray. This nation needs leadership, not polished speeches and empty promises.
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Try apprentice programs
I recall wondering back in 1974 why America refused to look at the German apprenticeship system as a way of giving workers specific skills and thus retaining both manufacturing jobs and world-class products.
Fast forward to 2011: Germany is thriving with a trade surplus while America has a huge trade deficit and a severe shortage of jobs for people without college educations.
The only thing I've come up with in over 35 years is that schoolteachers, administrators and college professors dislike "dirty" work.
Rolf H. Parta, Bradenton
Union rips school planning | Sept. 10
Cut bloated administration
At a time when our elementary schools are being gutted of vital resources and key support personnel, the chairwoman of the Pinellas School Board, Carol Cook, has the audacity of being quoted in the Times as saying, "I don't know that we've ever looked at exactly how many extra people we have."
Extra people. Is that the way she views guidance counselors, highly trained computer specialists and vital secretaries? The survivors of the current budget cuts are working their fingers to the bone, often doing the work of two people to make up for the contributions of the missing "extra people." Sadly, the damage from stripping away the talents of these "extra people" will show up in student achievement and the number of dropouts in the years to come.
If the system's budget needs more cuts, start by thinning the ranks of the bloated district administration's headquarters. How many assistant superintendents (and their little cluster of helpers) does the administration really require to function effectively?
Robert W. Swanson, Largo
We lost our rights, too
Another casualty of 9/11 has been our willing dismantling and shredding of our own Constitution and some of our most cherished principles in our unceasing and unrealistic demand of our government to make us 100 percent safe from terrorist attacks.
A prime example of this is going to an airport and having to submit to humiliating searches and at times Gestapo-like tactics by agents of the Transportation Safety Administration.
Then there is the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act, two particularly repugnant laws that should be drastically altered or repealed. The latter gives the president broad, sweeping and arbitrary power to designate anyone, citizen or not, as an "enemy combatant" and thereby deprive that person of legal and civil rights without due process.
Obviously, some Americans are only too willing to sacrifice our Constitution when it becomes inconvenient. And clearly we as a people have done the very thing Benjamin Franklin warned against over 200 years ago when he said, "Those who trade an essential liberty for a little temporary increase in security deserve neither liberty nor security."
Kevin T. Hurlbut, Winter Haven
The capitalist scheme
If Gov. Rick Perry is right and Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, then I submit that capitalism itself is a Ponzi scheme. Capitalism requires us to follow the mantra that "growth is imperative." It works as long as there is increasing demand and a concomitant increasing population. But like a Ponzi scheme, many of the most vulnerable in our society are just out of luck when demand wanes and the economic pie starts to shrink.
Mark Brandt, Dunedin
Speed trap Paul Revere fights back | Sept. 12
Focus on dangerous drivers
Kudos to Erich Campbell for suing the Florida Highway Patrol over flashing his headlights. I've flashed people for years when their lights are out at night. I would have been upset if ticketed for that.
Now that the Highway Patrol has suspended ticketing for flashing headlights, how about pulling over and ticketing anyone seen driving while talking on a cell phone or texting? Imagine the extra operating funds that could be collected.
David Lubin, Tampa