Bonuses perk up auto plant workers | Feb. 18
Saving automakers saved nation
Republicans' criticism of the decision to bail out the American auto industry indicates a collective failure on their part to take into consideration some vital extenuating circumstances.
The first of these is that, in spite of the fact that the industry's mismanagement and shortsighted business models contributed to its problems, there were many well-run businesses dependent on the carmakers for survival. Had General Motors and Chrysler entered into bankruptcy, millions of jobs and thousands of companies would have failed, resulting in economic disaster for the nation. Would Ford have been far behind?
The second problem is more long-term, but we cannot overlook the effect the failure of this segment of our manufacturing industry would have on our national defense. Think where we would have been on Dec. 8, 1941, had there been no automobile industry and no automobile plants with skilled workers, engineers and managers to mobilize for national defense.
Robert A. Shaw, Madeira Beach
NATO says its airstrike killed young Afghans Feb. 16
Accountability for deaths
We read every few months of an "airstrike" that kills civilians in Afghanistan. The responses from NATO, referring to the "sad event" and expressing "sincere condolences," do not suffice. Who ordered the airstrike? And what if anything will be done to that person?
Killing even one innocent is too high a price to pay to take out a hundred "suspected" terrorists. Let's stop this unconscionable slaughter and hold the ones responsible accountable for their actions.
David S. Swan, Clearwater
I cannot overstate the importance of great universities as an economic engine for our state. Do they create jobs? Absolutely. The Research Triangle isn't what it is because of the nice parks in Raleigh and Durham, N.C. It is because of the great universities there. They supply the intellectual capital that companies so dearly crave. And that is why the area is a booming part of the country. Same goes for Silicon Valley in California. It's Stanford, Berkeley and Cal Poly that provide the resources and people who foster the high-tech environment that make the area what it is.
Here we sit as the fourth-largest state in the nation without a single public university in the top 50. That is a disgrace. And it needs to be addressed.
I urge state senators to exert their leadership skills, rise above the politics and do the right thing for USF and for the university system.
Alan C. Bomstein, Clearwater
USF isn't blameless
Everyone in Florida is aware that state Sen. JD Alexander has treated the University of South Florida unfairly. But is everyone also aware that USF is treating the taxpaying public unfairly? USF's push to create a pharmacy school is a misuse of the public's money. With five pharmacy schools already in the state, including a fine outreach program at the University of Florida, our needs are amply met.
Our tax dollars should be addressed to the state's many worthy causes rather than aiding USF in its "empire-building" quest.
Jim Hayes, Clearwater
Online sales tax sensible but stalled | Feb. 19, John Romano column
Sales tax fairness
I am a die-hard conservative who agrees with this analysis on the need for an Internet sales tax. While John Romano makes the case that the state needs the money, I'd emphasize the unfairness of the current system to bricks-and-mortar retailers that are at a competitive disadvantage to online stores in other states.
The column doesn't address the liberal-touted "regressive" impact of a sales tax, which is all to the good. Rich and poor alike go online to shop to save money. I think each citizen has a duty to his or her fellow citizens to pay a fair share since we all use the same streets, sanitation system and other vital government services. Sales tax could well be the only fair taxation method.
If an Internet tax is good for Florida, could a national consumption tax be a better system than the complicated one we have now?
John Colman, Tampa
Santorum defends his remarks on Obama Feb. 20
Caring for the planet
Rick Santorum claims that President Barack Obama has a "different theology," a world view that places the good of the Earth over the good of man. But certainly such a statement, whether regarded scientifically or biblically, is absurd. Man cannot exist without the Earth, and so whether we regard it as a scientific or biblical injunction, people are bound to care for it. It is not a good idea to cavalierly dismiss climate change or dismantle the EPA.
Santorum's approach to science and religion is the product of an earlier age. Today, the Roman Catholic Church has apologized to Galileo and made room for Darwin and evolution.
For other questions on which science and religions might disagree, it would better serve Santorum and the nation to leave such matters for individuals to decide and not for governments to impose.
Paul Lupone, Spring Hill
Mormonism's success annoys evangelicals Feb. 20, commentary
A different religion
Columnist David S. Reynolds exhibits a failure to understand how much Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, differs from Judeo or Christian theology and practices.
After watching PBS documentaries created with the help and insights of prominent Mormons, I would no more vote for a Mormon for president than I would vote for a Scientologist.
The idea of Christians or anyone being jealous of Mormons is nonsense. My concern, in electing someone to be president of the United States, is their ability to distinguish truth from nonsense.
Jill Rommel, Oldsmar
Iran oil barred for two nations | Feb. 20
Promote energy production
The announcement that Iran has denied oil shipments to France and Britain strengthens the argument that the United States needs to promote the production of domestic oil and reduce dependency on foreign countries.
While everyone acknowledges that drilling now will not help the situation in the short term, I believe getting started is terribly important. This administration is reluctant to allow drilling in the gulf, supposedly for environmental reasons, yet we are watching foreign countries negotiating to drill off the coast of Cuba. Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline was a mistake. This Congress needs to redeem itself by acting positively in the interest of the people.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole