Medical marijuana gets 82 percent support in new poll | Nov. 22
A shift in attitudes on marijuana
It has become abundantly clear that not only are Americans asking for medical marijuana in increasing numbers, more are speaking in favor of recreational marijuana. When does this become too lucrative for the federal government to ignore?
The war on drugs has not only been futile, it has been extremely expensive. In the poll reported by the Times, nearly half of Floridians favored recreational legalization. We live in an unequal America that supports medical marijuana in 21 states, two of which have legalized recreational marijuana. Dozens of other states have begun decriminalizing marijuana, and our nation's capital recently passed a law making simple marijuana possession no more serious than running a stop sign.
As Floridians and equal Americans, we should have a fair chance to vote on a matter that carries such heavy criminal penalties. There has been a shift in attitudes toward marijuana, and with state budget cuts hitting so deeply, it would behoove Florida politicians to embrace the inevitable.
Michael Downss, Tampa
Obama extends health care enrollment deadline | Nov. 23
Health care law is a new tax
I am a small-business owner, physician and father. Last week I received a letter from my health insurance company that said that I can keep my current plan for one more year. After that, my premium will nearly double and my coverage will be less. Although politicians will dance around calling the Affordable Care Act what it really is, I will not. It is a tax. It is also a major paradigm shift away from the basic tenets that have allowed small businesses in this country to prosper.
Since this country's inception, there has been a contest between capitalism and socialism. In a free-market, capitalist society, astute workers have hopes of attaining some degree of prosperity by what they bring to the marketplace. These workers recognize that they have a financial obligation to the state — taxes — to provide the basic community necessities (police, roads, etc.), but they also expect that there will be a financial reward to justify their labor. It's a carrot that needs to be waved in order for businesses to strive, succeed and prosper.
By contrast, the number of those who think their government should provide them with shelter, food and health insurance has grown. There are many people in the middle of these two viewpoints. There are those who have less than optimum access to the marketplace. There are many who have been denied access to this based on their situation.
A society prospers when it helps those who cannot help themselves but demands from its citizens that they be accountable for their lives and strive to succeed by the sweat of their endeavors. It is dangerous to expect less from ourselves and merely have the philosophy that by taking from those who have more, it will benefit those who have less.
Marc Rogers, Largo
Keep independent transit agency Nov. 23, letter
An extra layer of regulation
It always amazes me how the Republican Party preaches less government regulation and more competition — until they don't. In this case, it's Victor Crist's call for keeping an independent transit agency, an extra level of government regulation. Really, commissioner?
First, Hillsborough County is the only county in Florida that has such an agency. Every other county seems to be able to provide safe, clean public transportation without the added government oversight. As far as Crist's statement that there will be less transparency if Hillsborough County takes over the agency, Florida has Sunshine Laws. Certainly, Crist should know that, since he is a former state senator. If the county took over the transit agency, its records would be open to the public.
Elizabeth Belcher, Seffner
Leadership needed on phone fraud Nov. 24, editorial
Control phony charities
We can control "charities" that abuse people and the definition with a fairly simple legal change from Congress. Let us redefine the section of the tax laws that permit an organization to be exempt from income taxes to require annual proof that 65 percent or more of gross funds raised actually go to the described purpose.
Even the government spends only 25 percent of funds on overhead; surely we can require a "charity" to be nearly as effective.
Rolf Parta, Bradenton
Iran nuke deal signed | Nov. 24
Negotiation, not war
There are only two ways of dealing with the situation we are confronted with on Iran. Either we go to war and bomb the hell out of them, or we try the old-fashioned way and negotiate.
Logic and reason tell us the latter would be the best way go. History has taught us what war and its aftermath usually bring. There are no real winners.
I applaud what Washington and the other allies are doing. I hope good sense will prevail.
Jack Levine, Palm Harbor
A home, but no help | Nov. 24
Protect, respect our elderly
Bay Gardens is typical of the epidemic taking place in America today. The abdication of responsibility for our deserving elders who are in great need is morally and ethically against the values of our civilized society.
Yet this erosion of principles continues as our elected officials consider our elders disposable and not worthy of adequate funding for quality care.
America's elders are the reason this great nation has survived. We must acknowledge our responsibility to these members of society.
Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill is a responsible and caring man who will do the right thing. Brian Lee is a nationally recognized champion of elder concerns and performs a much-needed public service for his fellow human beings.
The Associates of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida urge our elected officials to prioritize the corrective action needed to rectify these abysmal conditions at Bay Gardens.
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa