Civics program pamphlet laced with religion | Dec. 8
The nation's religious principles
There is a general failure to understand that Judeo-Christian principles were incorporated in all early documents, including the Constitution, and that even Thomas Jefferson, "an Enlightenment rationalist," recognized the value of these principles when he ordered Bibles in every school.
Some of these principles were incorporated into laws — "don't kill or steal" — while others were enforced by overwhelming public pressures deemed a "code of conduct." Unfortunately, public opinion and pressure has weakened as religious beliefs and morality have weakened.
A huge result of this is the breakdown in family values. Today when two people start a business, both are responsible; however, when two people create a child, one often walks away without any responsibility. This is the primary cause of broken-down neighborhoods and lawbreaking.
As the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville warned us in the 1830s: "Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith. Society is endangered not by the profligacy of a few, but of a laxity of morality amongst all."
Richard C. Durstein, Palm Harbor
Civics program pamphlet laced with religion Dec. 8
Morality and religion
"Laced" is defined as adulterating with a substance. I was unaware that mentioning principles of religion voiced by our Founding Fathers equates to adulteration.
In response to Mary Potok's contention that "it's shameful … this group promotes a version of American history that is false," please consider the following quotes:
• Mayflower Compact, 1620: "Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia …"
• Declaration of Independence, 1776: "All men … are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."
• George Washington, 1796: "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principle."
• Patrick Henry, 1789: "The great pillars of all government and social life are virtue, morality and religion."
• Daniel Webster, 1800: "To preserve government we must preserve morals. Morality rests on religion. If you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall."
Rich Powell, Brandon
The man, not the myth | Dec. 8
Opposite of apathy
The photo on the front of the Perspective section of South Africans snaking in lines to vote is a sharp contrast to the turnout in the recent St. Petersburg mayoral election, where in some precincts less than 20 percent of those eligible bothered to cast a ballot. It's a sad reminder that the most common form of voter suppression is apathy.
Joseph H. Brown, Tampa
Vet, 85, home from N. Korea | Dec. 8
Travel with care
A warm welcome home to Merrill Newman, with the added observation that North Korea is still a concern to be taken quite seriously. That some notable business leaders and celebrities visit this backwater nuclear power with impunity leads to a sense that it is less dangerous than it really is. As a rogue state, North Korea needs to be seen as the extreme danger that it is, both in terms of world and national interests and in personal safety.
Alan Hebdon, St. Petersburg
Florida system failing
It's virtually impossible to contact Florida re-employment services via telephone, email or website. Bills go unpaid and thousands of unemployed Floridians are going hungry as a result.
When a person calls the Florida re-employment telephone number, he or she must enter a Social Security number followed by a PIN. After that, a recorded message informs the inquirer that the service is experiencing high call volumes and to please try to call back later. At the end of the message, the phone call abruptly ends. I've been calling re-employment assistance for about eight weeks and have been hung up on every time.
After failing to reach them by phone, I tried sending emails via the online contact form. According to information on the website, emails are supposed to be answered within three business days. I sent emails on Nov. 14 and Nov. 27, neither of which has been answered.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website is failing for many unemployed Floridians. Because of these failures, my family, like thousands of others, is going hungry this holiday season. It's highly probable our electricity and water will be turned off soon too. Something must be done soon to fix this terrible situation.
Branda Punzo, Riverview
1 in 4 got errors on insurance website | Dec. 7
This article states that "enrollment records for an estimated one in four contained computer-generated errors."
This isn't the half of it. The Obamacare software appears to be incapable of making edits or revisions. A 62-year-old neighbor of mine in Ohio spent 11 hours before getting through to a call center before Thanksgiving. The agent on the other end entered a 2 where she should have entered a 5 in the Social Security number. Trying to rectify that error, my friend learned that it cannot be changed. Thus she cannot obtain insurance for 2014. She was told "they are working on an edit function." Who are these incompetents hired by this administration?
Peter Sontag, Clearwater
Create a job guarantee | Dec. 9, commentary
It was tried — and failed
William Darity Jr. needs to review history in regards to "guaranteed jobs." The Soviet bloc Eastern European countries tried that for decades. While unemployment was near zero, their economies were disasters. Only private capitalism, unlike communism, creates meaningful jobs.
While there are plenty of exceptions, a majority of the unemployed under Darity's plan are most likely individuals who dropped out of school and/or have a drug problem and/or are young, unmarried individuals with children. Society should not be responsible for irresponsible actions of these individuals. It only feeds the desires of those who want a "nanny state."
Thomas E. Pease, Clearwater