Child's killers given life | Nov. 24
Take assault weapons off streets
It's upsetting to read that three more young men have thrown their lives away for nothing more than a grudge. The tragic death of an 8-year-old girl compounds this story of senseless waste. But my immediate thought was, What is wrong with our elected officials who allow assault rifles on our streets? I know the old story about the gun lobby and the powerful specter of NRA political donations, but give me a break: They are killing 8-year-olds.
How many more homes will be "sprayed" and babies killed in their beds as a result of multiple rounds fired from these weapons of war? Tampa Bay isn't a war zone, yet teenage gangs are armed like the insurgents in Afghanistan. Why?
Google "assault rifles or machine guns for sale" and you will find pages full of these weapons readily available to the general public. Am I the only person who thinks this is nuts?
How about shedding some ink on the politicians who okay the continued sale of these things? Identify which politicians are for and which are against this sort of weapon being sold over the counter.
Terry Moran, Dunedin
Child's killers given life | Nov. 24
Try for rehabilitation
The killing caused by the three young men aged 21 was wrong and must be punished. The life sentence without the possibility of parole is also wrong. The sentence takes away the possibility of rehabilitation, which seems to be lacking in the Florida system of law.
Our society has been built on the premise that a person can be changed for the good with proper counseling and mentoring. To deny that possibility to three 21-year-old men is wrong from several aspects. It causes Florida to take care of these men for a lifetime at considerable expense; it prevents the men from ever being returned to society as productive citizens; it ignores the age-old Judeo-Christian concept that one can be forgiven for a serious mistake; it does nothing to deter the commission of similar crimes as it has been proven that they are usually committed without serious thought of the consequences.
I hope the Florida judiciary will lead the way in changing this practice for the sake of the state and the persons involved in the crime.
Harry DeBruyn, Hudson
Progress bills will rise soon | Nov. 23
Share risks and rewards
If Progress Energy is making a sound business decision to repair the damage it did to its own nuclear plant, why won't shareholders share the risks along with accepting benefits of "ownership"?
When we privatize profits and socialize risks and losses, we drive another nail into the coffin of free-market capitalism. If customers have to make the investments, why not turn Progress Energy into a co-op so we all share the risks and benefits of investing?
Terry Hammonds, Dunedin
I wonder why none of the people from Occupy Tampa are protesting at the offices of Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio or Rep. Kathy Castor — after all these are three people who write the laws. Has Occupy even bothered to looked at who these officials' corporate donors are? Why are they disrupting the local park that the average family might want to enjoy and not the politicians' offices?
James F. Dahmer, Tampa
Voters should take action | Nov. 24, letter
Vote them all out
Why stop with federal incumbents? Our state and local incumbents have demonstrated just as much if not more incompetence as those at the federal level.
For the next several elections, I'll be guided by a single rule. Don't tell me whether a candidate is Republican or Democrat. Don't tell me what he or she promises during the campaign. Don't tell me what despicable acts the candidate has committed in the past. Just tell me whether he's an incumbent or not. That's all I need to know.
Alfred T. Barnard, Beverly Hills
Big plans for universities | Nov. 25
Cuts undermine education
The Florida Board of Governors' strategic plan for education includes many admirable goals, including increasing the number of college degrees awarded and a sharp increase in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math degrees.
However, it has a fatal flaw that makes these goals unattainable. Simply put, the Legislature and the policies of Gov. Rick Scott have decimated public education by continuing to make massive cuts that undermine our public schools.
The obvious flaw is that there will be not be able teachers to educate Florida's students. Who will become a teacher in a state where teachers are neither valued nor financially rewarded for the job they do? Our Legislators need to take a serious look at the substantial drop in the number of college students pursuing degrees in education. It is clear that funding for education needs to be increased to attract the best and brightest to the field of education and to produce the high-quality workforce we so desperately need.
Shelley Foster, Clearwater
Get rid of the fluff
The universities of our state and nation have been cheating students, parents and the taxpayers for 50 years.
When scholastic ability began to decline, the universities' response was to lower standards. This kept the enrollment up and the money coming. When government subsidies grew and student loans were easily obtained, tuition grew astronomically.
Lower standards resulted in major fields of study that are blatant jokes with little hope of gainful employment at graduation. The fraud is that the institutions condoned this. A key part of the equation was that the schools were dealing with a raw product unworthy of college education.
The inefficiency of the university system is shocking to anyone familiar with good business models. A 12-month scholastic year is necessary for economical utilization of the physical plant. Students at college level are emotionally able to comply with this schedule. A sound academic program, free of fluff, is a must. The savings of this model would be tremendous.
James D. Murphy, Tampa