Monday, February 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Beware government power and control

In sweep for data, U.S. enters new realm | June 9

Government power and control

Data mining is a wondrous thing. It permits the holder of the information to know whom you phone, how long you talk, where you were at the time, and who calls you; what sites you visit on the Internet; what you buy with your credit card; what books you read; to whom you correspond via email.

In other words, it reveals your interests and much of how you live your life. It's enough to form a very accurate profile of how you think, what you believe and what sort of citizen you are.

Perhaps you trust the government to always "do the right thing." If that is so, then you trust the IRS. Maybe, at this moment, the government can largely be trusted, but what about the government 10 or 20 years from now — can that be guaranteed?

We must understand that the information currently being collected on a mass scale is more than sufficient to form profiles of attributes the government deems troublesome, or politically dangerous to the party in power, and to seek out the individuals matching that profile for whatever form of retribution they find appropriate.

An enormous data facility in Utah soon will open that will be capable of storing years of this information, so we are not dealing with just what occurred last week or last month, but what has occurred over a very long period, adding to the accuracy of the profiles that can be constructed.

Do you want the government to be capable of knowing how you live and what you believe and how you live your life? They say it's for our safety. Yes, it is, but beyond that the temptations are almost irresistible. Can a burgeoning bureaucracy withstand the temptation to further its power? That's what it's all about: power and control. Have you read George Orwell's 1984? If so you know what I mean when I say you are close to becoming Winston Smith.

Robert Seitz, Land O'Lakes

In sweep for data, U.S. enters new realm June 9

Security vs. liberty

Regarding the recent revelations that the National Security Agency is snooping on Internet data and call records, I have to ask: Where is the oversight? Congress seems to launch an inquiry at the slightest partisan issue, but now all we hear is senators stating they tried to warn us.

How about reading the Patriot Act bill before it is recertified next time? How about some explicit limits next time? Congress is as guilty as both recent presidents. It is too easy to get caught up in the rallying cry of security and forget essential liberty.

We have to do better and limit power. Ironically, if this story was framed as the NSA gathering call records from gun shops or tea party members (which they surely did), the most dangerous place in Washington would be between Rep. Darrell Issa and a microphone.

Thomas Schaefer, Palm Harbor

Watching the watchers

With all of the news lately about the NSA, I am reminded of a 1998 book by Dan Brown, Digital Fortress. It is about an NSA supercomputer that reads every email in the United States, even encrypted ones. Of course it is all done for the good of the country, which prompts one of the characters to ask, "Who is watching the watchers?"

In this age of people giving up freedoms for the sake of "security," we would be well advised to heed this warning.

Michael Hoylman, St. Petersburg

Mass transit

Reliable, economical

Monday was the official ribbon cutting for the opening of MetroRapid North-South bus service in Tampa. As a professional working in downtown Tampa, I want to commend Hillsborough Area Regional Transit for this great bus system. It's reliable and safe, but most of all, it's economical. We are no longer a two-car family thanks to HART.

Elva Kennis, Tampa

Gay pride ban repealed | June 6

Stop the hateful rhetoric

Is this ever going to end? This was not a gauntlet being thrown down by alternative lifestyle members. It was simply evening up the playing field for community events. And, yes, the community means all citizens of Hillsborough County regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Pastor George Thomasson might try remembering Jesus' philosophy of love and acceptance before stating that we (Hillsborough County) are risking losing the favor of God. I don't imagine God has any more intention of punishing the gay community than any other segment of society. Show a little compassion and stop the hate rhetoric, please.

Patricia Lee-Lucardie, Tampa

America's worst charities | June 9

Guidance on giving

Thanks for identifying the 50 worst charities in terms of how much of the donated money goes to the needy. As a result, I'm not giving any money to any charity until you print a similar article identifying the 50 best charities.

A.T. Barnard, Beverly Hills

Making Social Security numbers more secure | June 7, commentary

Protecting privacy

What a timely column. I recently turned 65 and signed up for Medicare. I was shocked that when I received my initial correspondence and Medicare card that my case number is my Social Security number with a letter behind the number.

There are millions of elderly out there in the same situation, and these are the folks who need protection from fraud the most. Apparently the good people over at Social Security never heard of the Social Security Number Protection Act of 2005 and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2005. Each seeks to limit the distribution of an individual's Social Security number.

I would hope the representatives' proposed legislation would address this gaping hole in personal information protection.

Doug Bauer, Clearwater

Knee deep in bliss | June 8

Bright spot

Thank you for the article about the couple who married in Fakahatchee swamp. It was such a feel-good story.

We need more of its kind to offset all bad news we are inundated with daily.

Sharon Hallax, Brandon


Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Challenges in Hillsborough foster care

Foster failures under scrutiny | Feb. 10Challenges in foster care systemNo young person deserves to be treated as shown in the Ch. 8 segment on Youth and Family Alternatives Inc., an Eckerd Connects subcontractor. It is difficult to fathom how th...
Published: 02/12/18

Saturday’s letters: We’re all just trying to get home, one zip tie at a time

I detest Trump, but a ‘redneck’ fixed my Prius with zip ties | Feb. 3, Ruth Mayer columnWe’re all just trying to get homeLike columnist Ruth Mayer, I too am trying to find my level ground, my level-set. I too have held a tremendously deep resentm...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18