Business group aims at teachers' tenure | Jan. 15, story
Tenure has role to play in education
Let's reverse this aim. Make it read: "Teachers aim to control the field of business." Most of us would say that is, at best, amusing nonsense. So, what is sensible about business leaders dictating the elements of the field of public education — such as teacher tenure?
To make this simple, let's concede that business and education are separate fields. But when we are not thoughtful, this happens: Education becomes only schooling, and schooling becomes mostly training. Training is something at which business can be very good. As to education, that is not what business is good at or necessarily interested in.
So, what's the main point of teacher tenure? To prevent schooling from becoming merely training, and to encourage schooling in the direction of education. Are not school boards and administrators wise enough to ensure the same outcome? Well, it is not their primary job. That is what teachers are for. And surprisingly, in some situations, a weak teacher might be tolerated to ensure that exceptional teachers might survive.
Incompetent teachers should be removed. The system allows for it. That is the job of administrators and school boards.
Don Chamberlin, Clearwater
$38 million shot in the arm | Jan. 15, editorial
Subsidized development will make things worse
Tampa has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, for houses and apartment complexes. Apartment and rental housing vacancies are at an all-time high, with many rental owners in foreclosure. It's not just homeowners.
So, the bright idea is to build 1,500 more apartments. More rental house owners and apartment owners will go bankrupt by the glutting of the housing market with 1,500 more apartments in an already glutted market, and make a developer rich. Great!
Why not subsidize hardship renters instead of businesses, which will increase vacancy? Section 8 has a yearslong waiting list for funding, a serious backlog. Houses and apartments are sitting empty because families have doubled up, for lack of income. Subsidizing tenants would reduce the glut and stabilize the economy, putting repairmen to work fixing rentals.
The empty lot can be sold for profit, with plans.
In Spring Hill, hundreds of government-subsidized apartments have dangerously raised vacancy. Rents drop, mortgages don't — then foreclosure. Government should not compete with businesses.
William Gilbert, Weeki Wachee
Mass. Senate race may kill health bill Jan. 16, story
This is democracy?
This is a report of a local election, albeit for the U.S. Senate. The report states there are 57 Democratic votes and two independent votes in favor of the health care bill in the 100-member Senate. So how does one potential negative vote threaten the bill's passage?
The Senate rules allowing such nonsense give rise to the suspicion that the United States is no longer a democracy, the "tyranny of the majority" having turned into the "tyranny of the minority."
Originally in favor of "health care reform" (as was most of the country), I am now ambivalent about Congress' work product. But I am very concerned that in this environment, nothing of significance can pass through our so-called representative Congress.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., showed as much patience as a saint dealing with the idiots in that televised town meeting to discuss the bill. He sounds as disgusted as I am when he says that if the Republican wins the Senate seat in Massachusetts, the bill will not pass. How can this be, with 59 percent in favor ?
Bernard Waryas, Dunedin
A bad joke
Are you kidding me? My employer will be taxed at 40 percent for health insurance exceeding $8,900 a year. Employers using union employees don't have to pay the "Cadillac" tax.
The Democrats say they want to cut health care costs, but they completely ignore malpractice reform.
I can't wait for the next election.
Michael Kyle, Lutz
Bankers apologize for crisis
Limiting those bonuses
In your Jan. 17 Opinion section, you highlighted two letters on this topic that touched on the points of high bonuses and taxing the banks to get the bailout money back.
A simple solution would be to have in the bill to pay back the bailout money the following two requirements:
1. The banks are to pay for their share of the bank tax by cutting their bonuses 10 percent per year across the board for the 50 largest banks.
2. As a part of the bill, also require that in no way can this tax be passed on to their customers in higher fees and charges.
Do the math: If the bonuses are $140 billion this year, 10 percent of that equals $14 billion and over 10 years — as bonuses vary — you could easily collect $120 billion with nothing passed on to the bank customers. This would also eliminate the bankers' argument that if bonuses are cut, they would lose their best employees because bonuses are cut across the board. An employee would have no incentive to move due to lower bonuses.
Tony Perga, Tampa
Is nation-building needed?
There needs to be long-term strategic thinking about Haiti once the humanitarian rescue efforts have brought some relief to the benighted people and nation. This is a particularly important issue because the United States is close, has some historic ties, will doubtless have a major role in any recovery (if such is possible) and there will be strong voices in the United States pleading for special and durable aid to Haiti.
There can be no question that material humanitarian aid should flood Haiti, but its disbursement should be carefully accounted for to minimize corruption and private gain. Haiti is not a strategic country in geopolitical terms either to the world or the United States. The majority of its people are poor and undereducated, so President Barack Obama is really faced not with just a humanitarian effort but the eventual rebuilding of a failed state. The latter is hard to do anywhere and particularly with the many disadvantages endemic to Haiti.
The long-term goal of building a new state will take years, so if this is a world and U.S. aim it should be made clear and public. Rescue is not a policy that will solve Haiti's long-standing problems. If it can be done, it will be a miracle.
James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Penalty's fallacies | Jan. 17, letter
A loss of leverage
The letter writer believes that lifetime imprisonment, rather than the death penalty, should be the ultimate punishment for murder.
The trouble with that is that, once a murderer is serving a life sentence, knowing that nothing worse can legally be done to him, society has lost most of its leverage to prevent him from killing a guard or fellow inmate.
If the threat of a life in prison didn't prevent someone from committing his first murder, it is highly unlikely that the threat of taking away his TV privileges will deter him from committing another one.
James Nelson, Largo