Long shutdown hinted | Oct. 2
Stop holding the country hostage
It is a sad commentary on the country that some of its elected representatives are doing everything in their power to prevent their fellow Americans, many of them poor, from being able for the first time to purchase health insurance.
If they are successful in overturning the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will die from lack of insurance than were ever killed by terrorists.
They may next try to hold the nation hostage on raising the debt limit. The American people seem to be confused about the debt limit. It has nothing to do with future spending. It is debt that the United States legally and legitimately owes to its creditors.
It is debt that Republican legislators voted for. Every penny of it. Now they want the American people to suffer for the debt they are responsible for. Party of personal responsibility? I don't think so.
Jack Smith, Oldsmar
Owners' responsibility | Sept. 28, letter
Florida wrongly punished
Government flood insurance is a national program that is supposed to be self-sustaining. Floods in the Midwest, New Jersey, New York and Hurricane Katrina have caused deficits, not Florida homeowners. We are now being asked to pay for those events.
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act is unfair to Floridians, not risk-based and punitive.
The perception that this only affects the wealthy is wrong. The great majority of homes are not on the water. The wealthy often don't need to buy $250,000 of flood insurance and can afford to build $2 million, raised homes. On the other hand, middle-class mortgage holders are required by federal law to carry flood policies of up to $250,000 with low deductibles.
Premiums are based primarily on the elevation of the property, not on the historical frequency of flooding. There have only been two major flood events to occur in Pinellas County in the last 200 years (1848 and 1921). My home has never been flooded in 54 years. Clearly premiums are not actuarial, but instead are punitive.
Florida citizens have paid $16 billion in premiums since the inception of the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. But Floridians have collected barely $4 billion in claims. Florida citizens are paying more than our fair share. Clearly our rates have not been "subsidized."
We are not asking for a government handout; we are instead asking for a fair and balanced approach to flood insurance. Insurance rates do need updating, but this needs to be done with appropriate data and affordability and impact studies.
Randolph Hemsath, St. Petersburg
Impact on renters
I have been hearing about how flood insurance will be going up for homeowners and businesses, but there is one problem that hasn't been talked about: renters.
Yes, the law will hurt homeowners, but for those of us who rent the problem is worse. I know that property owners will be passing this cost on to their renters. Think about what is going to happen when rents go up $1,000 or more to cover the cost of the rate increase.
Frank S. Pedigo, St. Petersburg
Obamacare Day 1: slow | Oct. 2
Growth of dependency
In support of Obamacare, much is made about the fact that Social Security and Medicare both had doubters at their beginnings. It is then assumed that, since they worked out fine, Obamacare will work out fine.
However, have they really worked out fine? Think of all the stories about abuse, corruption, mismanagement and failures in those programs. Think about all the promises made by the presidents who introduced those programs that have proven to be untrue. Remember how the Social Security so-called "trust fund" has been raided by the D.C. spenders for decades.
There is, however, a very clear similarity among all these programs: dependency on government. The "talking points" say that no one would want to get rid of Social Security or Medicare today. That is true, but not because the taxpayers like these mismanaged messes.
Dependency on government for the basic needs of survival is a terrible thing — and surely we don't need more of it.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
There will be consequences
Where does the House of Representatives get the authority to deprive states of the proceeds, advantages and benefits due under the Affordable Care Act?
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have revised their systems to prepare for the program; spent money and time on their exchanges; and educated their citizens regarding their rights. Those citizens are ready and eager to start enjoying the benefits of those rights.
Is it conceivable that the House can simply unravel the entire fabric of these governments as a stunt?
Responsible people in Florida need to make clear to their representatives that they cannot tyrannize the country without accountability.
R.P. Muhlhan, Palm Harbor
A head of state rested on his work | Sept. 28, Epilogue
An exemplary, giving life
Kudos to Andrew Meacham for the heart-warming article regarding the life and death of John "Tino" Manzolillo. Tino's life epitomized what Pope Francis describes as genuinely living as Christ would desire for each and every one of us. He was a devout Catholic, attending daily Mass, giving of himself to others without expecting anything in return, and never bragging about himself. Tino was an ideal hospice volunteer, earning the honor of Hospice Volunteer of the Year. Tino would say that his work was nothing special, but simply what is expected of all of us.
I often remember how Tino offered to take my uncle to weekly dialysis treatments for a significant length of time. My uncle truly loved Tino and could not thank him enough for his kindness. Tino knew how much my family appreciated his authentic love for us and for anyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path.
St. Augustine would definitely describe Tino as a humble man of God. Tino should be a model for each of us. He was modest, simple, kind, empathic and lived with tremendous courage. He will always be in our hearts and will not be forgotten.
Michael Gonzalez, Temple Terrace