Power surge | July 30
Put focus on renewable energy
This breathless article on the construction of a gas-fired electric plant seems like a free commercial for the company. It did not address what the cost of natural gas has to be to provide power at $6.55 per kilowatt, nor did it comment on the external costs of production and burning of the gas. Extraction through fracking or otherwise has costs of remediation, as does the carbon and other pollutants put into the environment. That's the problem with any extraction-based energy source, all of which ignore the total costs involved from drilling the first well to dealing with the external costs.
Florida must begin to move away from a command-and-control economy whereby monopolies in power production manipulate the Legislature and deny alternative energy production a level playing field. For example, the oil depletion allowance and other tax breaks cost taxpayers about $4 billion a year. Solar power is there for the taking and it costs nothing to produce; no external costs. Costs of panel fabrication are paid for in about three to five years in energy used, and given the life expectancy of a panel, power is then generated free for another 20-plus years.
The solar power available here is better than anywhere east of the Mississippi. Such unsunny climes as New Jersey and Massachusetts produce more solar power than Florida. When the giant power companies allow for competition instead of pushing for deceptive solar amendments to the Florida Constitution, we will see the amount of energy increase, decrease the externalities and costs of fossil fuels and become more energy independent.
Robert Tankel, Dunedin
Heading toward a crisis
President Donald Trump's outlandish tweet stating that "BAILOUTS for insurance companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!" refers to the elimination of government-funded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. If Trump ends the subsidies, insurers will have to take on the cost-sharing as they are not immediately able to drop anyone until 2018. This results in financial instability for the insurers, which would certainly lead to layoffs in not only the health insurance industry but potentially in the broader health care system. The second effect would be skyrocketing premiums and millions uninsured in 2018. With no current replacement from Republicans, this would quite literally cause a jobs crisis in the health care sector as well as punishment to the most innocent of citizens for no other reason than politics.
This president continues to show no evidence of a moral compass or evidence that he understands the nuance of any public policy decision he makes. It is incumbent upon citizens now more than ever to elect officials on either side in any local, state or federal race who carry a nuanced approach to solving our toughest challenges.
Thomas Vacca, Tampa
Baker for mayor | July 30, editorial
Baker's dubious record
It is truly sad that this once-great newspaper that I have been reading for over 58 years has endorsed Rick Baker over Rick Kriseman for mayor of St. Petersburg. I agree that Kriseman has had his disappointing moments, but they pale in comparison to Baker's. You failed to mention the attempt by Baker to close Albert Whitted Airport that was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters. You failed to mention Baker's lack of support for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation. You failed to mention Baker's unwillingness to initiate curbside recycling or his unwillingness to confront climate change in a meaningful way, an extremely important issue for the residents of St. Petersburg.
You failed to explain why you have more confidence in Baker to overhaul the sewer system. Since it is perfectly obvious that the sewer system needed an overhaul, why didn't Baker do it as mayor? If Baker's main positive is education, he should run for the School Board.
John Avery, St. Petersburg
Here is the math on single-payer | July 30, Perspective
All should contribute
You write, "A single-payer system would be similar to Medicare, which covers Americans who have turned 65." In order to get Medicare Part B, those over 65 contribute money every month. I see no contribution from those who want the government to pay for their health insurance needs. In fact, encouraging Americans to believe that our government will supply their every want is troubling. Where will the motivation for people to make better health care decisions come from if there is no connection to costs? Weight loss, quitting smoking, choosing healthier foods and routine exams all help in improving health, but creating a system where your only input is showing up and handing over your insurance card doesn't assure participating in your own health care.
If single-payer insurance was enacted, the efforts for finding fraud and misuse would have to at least double. Why create a "government company" when insurance companies already exist?
P.C. Walsh, Port Richey
State sees voter cancellations | July 31
Possible double voters
This article omits a most logical reason for the increase in cancellations. It mentions the president's commission on voter fraud and suggests that some voters may have cancelled because they don't want their personal information revealed to that commission. Ignored is the possibility that some people cancelled their Florida voter registration because they were registered to vote in two different states — just as President Donald Trump has alleged.
Looking at the list of counties seeing the biggest increases in cancellations, they appear to be the ones with the greatest number of snowbirds/winter visitors who may be registered in their home states as well as in Florida. I think a comparison of those cancellations against the voter registration rolls of those folks' home states might reveal something interesting.
Alfred J. D'Amario, Hudson