Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for January 2014 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Hillsborough schools opt for armed guards | Dec. 19
Expensive and dangerous
As a junior attending Steinbrenner High School, I was troubled to hear our elementary schools were to soon be receiving armed guards. Like anyone else, I was horrified by the Connecticut shootings, however I feel this defensive measure is a mistake. Tragedies such as Sandy Hook reflect complicated societal issues that cannot be solved with a simple solution, certainly not one that is expensive and introduces weaponry to our elementary schools.
Melissa Ferrin, Lutz (Jan. 7)
Thanks for reading; it has been an honor | Jan. 19, Robyn Blumner column
In a lightning strike of irony noted in the golden halls of Heaven itself, Robyn Blumner, noted socialist and atheist, has proved by her resigning that there is a God.
Gary West, St. Petersburg (Jan. 26)
Fact vs. fiction in income gap debate | Jan. 26
Inequality shreds social fabric
It would appear that all of a sudden politicians of all colors have discovered the appalling inequality in this country. President Franklin Roosevelt over 70 years ago famously said: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
Unfortunately, inequality has increased exponentially since FDR's words and very little has been done to help. Politicians on the right resist any effort to help the people in need, based on the mantra that it would be wealth redistribution from the top to the bottom which they equate with socialism and/or communism.
Nobel laureate economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have warned for years of the serious dangers of inequality in our country. It erodes the social fabric of our society.
Those who argue that redistribution from the top to the bottom is socialism have no problem whatsoever to accept redistribution from the bottom to the top which is exactly what is happening. In a system where the top people earn ever more and the middle and lower classes earn ever less, serious societal problems will arise.
Frederick Douglass also understood this back in the 19th century when he said: "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."
And so it is clear that fighting inequality is not some obscure communist tool to eradicate capitalism in this country, but rather a just, moral, and fair goal to achieve.
Patrick Bauer, Wesley Chapel (Jan. 28)