Customers billed for bank incompetence | Oct. 1, editorial
Blame Congress for new debit fees
Your editorial criticizing Bank of America's new debit card fees was off base in linking them to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
TARP had nothing to do with these new fees; they were spawned by another ill-conceived government initiative, the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.
Allowing customers the use of debit cards creates costs on issuing banks, and previously the banks imposed these costs on merchants. So, the most powerful and politically connected corporations in this sector lobbied the government to make someone else pay their bills. Kind of like TARP, actually.
The result was Dodd-Frank, which capped how much banks could charge merchants for debit card transactions. To make up for the shortfall, banks now have to find other sources of revenue to fund debit card transactions.
The fees did not spring up out of nowhere — they represent costs that existed all along, but now shifted to individuals because of an unjustified government intervention. To suggest more congressional "relief" is unfortunate and illogical.
Matt Curran, Lutz
Harsh sentences given to protesters Sept. 30
Compassion toward injured
This was a tiny news item on Page 4A, but it should've been on Page One. (I know, the Rays news displaced it.)
In Bahrain, the rulers have given "harsh prison terms to medical workers" for caring for the wounded during protests against the government. I saw the ruler of the country come on TV to defend the punishments because, as he said, "No one is above the law." Well, if that is the law, someone needs to change it.
As medics we have taken the Hippocratic Oath to care for all in distress. The Geneva Convention demands that POWs be cared for if they are sick or wounded. I was a medic in Vietnam during the war, and we had a whole ward full of Viet Cong soldiers for whom we cared, with equal compassion that we would have shown toward anyone needing care.
Bahrain is a Shiite-majority state with a Sunni ruler, who has used neighboring Saudi Arabia's army to suppress the protesters. This is one more reason why things need to change in that part of the world.
Sankaran S. Babu, M.D., Wesley Chapel
Don Wright cartoon | Sept. 30
Romney and his dog
Don Wright's cartoon is another example of the liberal media misleading people about how the Romney dog was transported.
He was not helplessly strapped to the top of the car. He was crated with a special windshield. This is not an ideal way to travel with a dog, but it certainly isn't the cruelty that has been depicted.
This is something the cartoon character states he can't forget. What I can't forget is how Barack Obama sat in a church for 20 years listening to a preacher using vile, anti-American hate speech.
Nancy Skinner, Spring Hill
House appeals ruling on redistricting Sept. 30
Not serving the public
Shouldn't news that the Florida House is appealing a court ruling upholding the antigerrymandering amendment to the state Constitution warrant a little more coverage than a small article on 8B?
The gall of House Speaker Dean Cannon and the two members of Congress who are appealing an amendment — approved by 63 percent of the voters — continues to amaze me.
It's obvious to the voters that gerrymandering is wrong. And with the population growth recorded in the 2010 census, Florida will have two additional seats in the U.S. Congress. Incumbents are scrambling to ensure their re-election.
I attended the public input redistricting meeting in Largo in August and heard speaker after speaker voice the same thing: The Legislature should not be spending any taxpayer dollars to fight an amendment approved by a majority of the voters.
Whose interest are they serving? Not the public's — but when did that ever matter with the current Legislature?
Jane Lomas-Michals, Largo
Hope for springs eternal | Sept. 25
Stop the overuse of springs
It was interesting to read about the efforts to restore once-beautiful springs that had been killed by overpumping.
The same week, the Southwest Florida Water Management District announced its intention to raise the amounts permitted to be pumped that will affect the Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers — both spring-created. Both of these rivers, as well as Crystal River, now have much greater saltwater intrusion due to reduced spring flow and lower water levels.
I wholly support restoration of springs lost but, even more, would like to prevent creating the necessity to do so. Overbuilt and overpopulated areas should not have the right to demand resources from areas where those resources support the local populations.
E.V. Myers, Crystal River
Solar loans approved as program expires Oct. 1
Questionable loan program
Buried on Page 3A were two paragraphs stating that the Energy Department approved four more solar loan guarantees worth nearly $5 billion. These loans were approved under the same program that gave a $528 million loan to Solyndra, a company that blew through taxpayers' money in little over a year and then declared bankruptcy.
Having studied economics in college, I am wondering exactly what the demand is for these products that could possibly justify $5 billion in additional taxpayer guarantees.
Carol Mathis, St. Petersburg
Palestinians undermine peace accords Sept. 30, commentary
Column ignores settlers
Chaim Shacham interprets the Palestinian bid for statehood as a violation of the Oslo peace accords. He says "both sides pledged that nothing would be done that changes the status of the West Bank and Gaza, and no unilateral act would be undertaken to alter the basic nature of these disputed territories."
He conveniently doesn't mention the Jewish settlers' repeated confiscation of Palestinian land and the building of settlements on those lands.
Shacham states that Hamas, in control of the Gaza Strip, is an extremist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction. He is right, but how is taking Palestinian land going to help that situation?
U.S. foreign policy must remain balanced and not unduly influenced by Israeli settlers.
Ken Lang, Spring Hill