Health care reform
Record of giant health overruns
The Congressional Budget Office says that "health care reform" as it has been passed into law will provide medical coverage to an additional 32 million individuals by 2019 while reducing overall costs.
President Barack Obama tells us that reform will not increase the national debt by "one dime." The track record of government-administered health programs reveals quite different results.
For instance, at its start in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was a supposedly "conservative" estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion.
In 2007, total Medicare spending was $431 billion. That isn't even close to the costs predicted in 1965. Why do we act like the numbers coming out of Congress and the CBO have any basis in reality?
In 1987, Congress projected that Medicaid — the joint federal-state health care program for the poor — would make special relief payments to hospitals of less than $1 billion in 1992. Actual cost: $17 billion.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that Obamacare will be anything less than another boondoggle of even greater proportions.
Joseph Hill, Panama City
Public servants' pensions, benefits must be trimmed
Our federal, state and local governments are thoroughly corrupted by greed and outside influences. A starting point in the cleansing process would be a dramatic reduction in pensions and other perks upon retirement such as free health care for public servants and their families.
A perfect local example would be the pension given to Carl Kuttler, the retired president of St. Petersburg College. His pension of $200,000 or more per year amounts to about $800 each day of a five-day work week for life. This is about like winning a $6 million lottery invested at 4 percent.
Multimillion-dollar retirements are corrupt and obscene, and this is where our public servants have taken us. This is just one example of the thousands of such cases.
I believe that it is way past due for the St. Petersburg Times to do an expose on this on a national level. Correction has got to begin at the top.
Peter L. Richard, Pinellas Park
Get into Gaza | Nov. 14
Gazans chose Hamas
I am sure that Hamas is pleased with the article in Sunday's Times. Usually they have to pay a lot of money for such propaganda.
To add some perspective to this article.
Hamas is a fundamentalist Muslim organization that has as part of its creed to wipe out the state of Israel — not live in peace next door.
Under a fundamentalist Muslim organization, women have virtually no rights in a court of law.
The citizens of Gaza (who had more rights under Israeli rule than they did previously under Egyptian rule) chose to elect Hamas. Admittedly, this may have been a poor choice, but the ballots spoke.
Gazans chose to lob thousands of missiles and kidnap a soldier. They got operation Cast Lead as a response. Even Hamas itself has acknowledged that an overwhelming majority of casualties on the Arab side were military in nature and not civilians.
As my mother would say, "Do not live near the airport and complain of the noise." Do not elect an internationally known terrorist form of government, have them assault many times a sovereign nation and then complain about the living conditions.
If the greater Arab community of the Middle East cared about the Palestinians, they would absorb them in to their countries. As Golda Meir said, "When they (the Arabs) love their children more than they hate us, we will have peace."
Elliot Reisman, Tampa
Pelosi is the problem
When the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives convenes for the lame-duck session in Congress this week, it'll turn out to be a dead-duck session in Congress if the Democrats decide to select Nancy Pelosi to return as the face of their party as the minority leader. Pelosi's impact on the November elections is the major reason they lost the majority.
Ray Brown, Tampa
Will they pay down debt?
Call me cynical, but I doubt the congressmen we elect will be able to devote any "good-of-the-country" tax increase solely to paying down the national debt.
That said, I would not be willing to be taxed 15 cents per gallon more on gasoline or delay Social Security. I would give up the mortgage interest deduction (and the one for dependent children), and I would legalize marijuana and tax it.
Full disclosure: I am very close to retirement age, I do not have a mortgage, nor do I have children, and I do not smoke anything. That is, I am willing to give up the same thing everyone else is: nada.
But I'd consider changing my mind if there were an absolutely ironclad way to prevent our congressmen from simply spending any such "good-of-the-country" tax increase.
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview
Oil prices only rising
A recent letter calling electric cars ridiculous and impractical completely misses one important factor: The price of oil is only going in one direction, up. How does an electric car sound when gas is $6 a gallon and it takes $120 to fill up your Explorer? It's not a question of if; it's question of when.
With world demand for oil increasing and oil production probably at its peak, the cost of oil in the future could literally endanger our American way of life. Remember what $4-a-gallon gas did to our economy. If we choose to ignore the future, we do so at our own peril.
General Motors' Volt is an elegant solution to the problem of range. It is gas-free on shorter trips, with its small gas engine kicking in to provide the same range as any new car.
Only one thing should fear electric cars: oil companies.
F.M. Younglove, Brandon
So, ever wonder how a cat drinks? | Nov. 12
A pleasant change
As much as Page One isn't usually where I would think this type of story would go, I must admit, in this day and age, with all the doom and gloom we read about, this was a pleasant diversion.
It caught my attention immediately, entertained my mind a bit, and certainly informed me. Something a lot less stressful on the front page was refreshing. Thank you.
Lee Friedman, Pinellas Park