End sugar quotas | March 23, commentary
U.S. Sugar policy has served us well
College professors are paid to theorize, not run successful businesses. A Pepperdine University professor, Gary M. Galles, proves this point in a March 23 op-ed bashing one of Florida's most important industries.
He suggests eliminating the U.S. sugar policy — which operates at no cost to America's taxpayers — and making the country dependent on subsidized foreign producers. His theory has failed in practice numerous times.
We depended on foreign sugar producers in the 1940s and the result was sugar rationing. And modern-day sugar policy exists because consumers were badly burned by roller-coaster prices in the 1970s and 1980s.
More recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened the floodgates to foreign producers following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Much of the refined sugar that arrived had to be re-refined by U.S. companies to remove hunks of burlap, metal shavings, and other impurities.
McKeany-Flavell, a California-based research firm that is paid to help build successful businesses, had this to say about the theory of eliminating sugar policy: "Just as we are experiencing problems with our dependence on foreign oil, sugar users would have many obstacles to overcome, including sugar quality, consistency, packaging and (delivery)."
Sugar policy has been a success in this country, which is why it has strong bipartisan support in Congress. It is also popular with most of the 41 countries that already ship sugar to the United States, which is the world's second biggest sugar industry.
As for the price complaints in the op-ed? A pound of sugar still costs about half as much as a candy bar, restaurants still give it away for free, and candy companies are still enjoying huge profits.
George H. Wedgworth, president & CEO, Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Belle Glade
Tea party without nuts | March 25, Thomas Friedman column
It's time to look beyond the two-party system
Thomas Friedman's realization that the most important innovation of all is political innovation is absolutely on the mark. It is very welcome and is worthy of a popular movement.
Besides removing district-crafting duties from partisan politicians, Friedman talks about replacing the fear many have voting for a political independent or third-party candidate by adopting "Alternative Voting" (or single transferable vote) that allows votes cast to transfer to a backup choice if a most desired candidate finishes out of the running.
Alternative voting is a direct assault upon the two-party system, which Friedman labels an oligopoly that needs to be ended to address our current broken politics.
Friedman maintains candidates in the political center will benefit most — but really, everyone will, because the lesser-of-two-evils paradigm would be scrapped.
Lawrence Allred, Seminole
Tea party without nuts | March 25, Thomas Friedman column
The coffee alternative
I think Thomas Friedman is really on to something when he says he wants to form his own tea party of the center.
Actually there already is a grass-roots movement afoot called, appropriately, the Coffee Party USA.
Short of letting independents vote in primaries, which is probably unpalatable to both parties, this movement could move things along to the center.
According to their Web site, "Coffee Party USA aims to reinvigorate the public sphere, drawing from diverse backgrounds and diverse perspectives, with the goal of expanding the influence of the people in America's political arena. We do not require nor adhere to any pre-existing ideology."
This is no ultraliberal reaction to the Tea Party, but folks searching for pragmatic solutions. And a real plus to their objectives is a civility pledge that is featured when you become a Facebook fan.
Perhaps with grass-roots efforts like the Coffee Party, reason will drown out all the shouting.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
I can't believe you missed the great quote from quitter-Gov. Sarah Palin at Friday's John McCain re-election rally in Tucson, Arizona. She brought down the house when she said, "The Republican Party is not the party of 'no', we're 'The party of hell no!' "
What a great T-shirt that would make for the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa.
Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach
Health care bill
Wait until November
President Barack Obama asserted that attempts to repeal his massive health care bill would be resisted by the American people because the people wouldn't want the tyrannical insurance companies back in control of their lives.
Instead, the bill empowers the ever-compassionate Internal Revenue Service to enforce the mandatory requirements that citizens purchase health insurance. What a relief to know that we no longer need to fear those oppressive insurance salesmen and bean counters and that we'll be safe and sound in the loving arms of the tax man!
In fact, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated, the bill is also a much-needed "jobs" producer! I understand it calls for up to 16,500 new IRS employees. Wonderful! After all, doesn't history teach us that the greatest threat to people's life, liberty and property is private industry and the profit motive? No?
Well, President Obama seemed so confident the people would rise up against any attempts to repeal his bill, and he must know what he's talking about since the bill passed with such overwhelming public and bipartisan political support! Wrong again?
I guess we'll need to wait until November to find out for sure. I know as far as I am concerned, Election Day can't get here fast enough!
Theo Benetis, Safety Harbor
Health is a moral matter
I take it to be self-evident: It is immoral to deny a person health care because he has not the money.
That said, I do not understand the Republicans' opposition to the Affordable Health Care for America act.
Richard Weaver, M.D., South Pasadena
If one of the major sports teams, which lost either the Super Bowl, the Rose Bowl, or the World Series, behaved as badly as the Republican Party has behaved after losing on the health bill, I think they would be thrown out of their league.
Betsy Bertolino, Palm Harbor
After the 2008 presidential election your paper published a letter from me titled More divided than ever (Nov. 9, 2008). This was regarding the divide of the American people during the election of this president.
Fast-forward to today, 14 months after the election of this administration. Need I say more?
Lynda Barrett, Largo
Starting over: First make a plan March 28, story
What we value
One of the most compelling articles I have seen lately is the one about the laid off public relations account manager who became a teacher. The following sentence is what made it so compelling: "I make about half my former salary and I don't know exactly how my wife and I are managing."
A society that considers public relations twice as valuable as education is unlikely to ever get education right.
Ed Bradley, Lithia