Jobs, debt are real issues | Feb. 5, letters
Obama's record of achievements
A letter writer parrots the GOP line that Barack Obama is a "failed president." This argument holds special appeal for Republicans but requires a short memory. Obama inherited an economy that was shedding 750,000 jobs a month, a banking system in ruins and an auto industry on the way out.
His predecessor, by contrast, inherited a budget surplus and a healthy economy. He immediately set about squandering both, then embroiled us in two wars.
In Obama's three years in office, more jobs have been created that in the entire eight years of George W. Bush. We're out of Iraq, bin Laden is dead, the auto industry is profitable and Obama signed health care legislation that eluded his predecessors for nearly a century.
Buck Beasom, Tampa
Midterm exams stir debate | Feb. 5
Help students to learn
The current method of midterm testing, while admirable in that it seeks to ensure that all students receive the same amount of course material, does an injustice to many Hillsborough County students. It is my understanding that the test is prepared before the start of the school year. It would be a tremendous help if the general review sheet and class syllabus for all high school courses were posted on the district website for all to access at the start of the school year.
In many instances, students receive the review/syllabus just a few short weeks before the exams. This results in either a homework overload or many nights of self-teaching for the student to be able to achieve a passing grade. Advanced notice of what the exam will contain would aid the student in learning.
J.R. Parrish, Tampa
Scene from hell | Feb. 5
The Times did a great job of giving us a glimpse into the stories of those involved in the tragedy that occurred on I-75 due to the fog and smoke.
The question that needs to be investigated is: Who made the decision to reopen I-75 under those conditions? This is the second time in recent history that this has happened. We must stop repeating these preventable tragedies.
Jack Byers, St. Petersburg
Why Obama is wrong | Feb. 8, commentary
Selective moral outrage
American Catholics decided for themselves decades ago to ignore admonitions against contraceptives. Today they should ignore the bishop's attack on the Affordable Care Act. The people are the church, not the bishop.
Where, I wonder, is the moral outrage at the death and suffering caused by lack of insurance? Where is the concern for families bankrupted by medical bills? What is the morality of denying coverage because of a prior diagnosis?
These moral dilemmas occur every day. The question of the place of contraceptives in ordinary medical care was settled years ago for Catholics as well as all other citizens.
Mark Morris, St. Petersburg
Hospice pioneer dies of cancer | Feb. 5
Pioneer in caring
I add my voice to the chorus in honor of Mary Labyak, a pioneer in the hospice care movement, whose leadership earned her international respect. While her recent passing brings sadness, her legacy inspires many to follow her teachings.
My association with Mary goes back some three decades when I learned that she provided a vision for end-of-life care that transcended cultural boundaries.
Mary saw no limitation to the need for families to understand that death is a natural part of life. Under her loving leadership of Suncoast Hospice, family members of all ages were given the opportunity to join together to give emotional support to one another in time of great stress and sorrow.
Mary Labyak's life's work was to give us the tools to trust one another and provide a safe and secure passage as we say our final goodbye to those we love.
Jack Levine, Tallahassee
Doing businesses' bidding
Republican state Rep. Rachel Burgin recently introduced a bill that requests the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations. The bill was written by a group named the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which is funded mostly by large corporations in an effort to get legislation passed that benefits them.
Burgin apparently forgot to delete the part of the bill that stated it was written by ALEC, and she immediately withdrew the bill. A day later she introduced the same bill, minus the paragraph referring to ALEC as the authors of the bill.
Burgin withdrew the first bill because she apparently didn't want to appear to be a stooge for large corporations. It would seem that as a legislator, Burgin is more interested in assisting large companies than in representing her district.
George Petrick, Riverview
Europeans free to choose
I wish presidential aspirants and others would stop demeaning our European allies, friends and cousins because they choose to live in a different form of society. I think the wealthy, the corporations and the religious don't want us to see, feel or understand life in a social democracy (we may like it and want it). The Europeans generally have better health care and education, infrastructure and transit, guaranteed vacations, longer lives, etc.
I don't see these civilized people clamoring for change to mean-spirited, survival-of-the-fittest American capitalism. They are democracies, free to choose.
John Culkin, St. Petersburg
January hiring spurt lifts markets | Feb. 4
Behind the jobs numbers
Everybody seems overjoyed at the recent release of unemployment numbers at 8.3 percent. However, the painful truth is in the detailed numbers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the Labor Participation Rate has dropped to 63.7 percent. This is the percentage of people employed or looking for work compared to the total of the age-eligible population. This is lowest it has been since 1981. This indicates that the lower jobless rate is driven by people simply giving up looking for work.
We are by no means "out of the woods" when it comes to getting America back to work.
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde