We must reject the lying politicians For years students in my classes have claimed that most (if not all) politicians are dishonest. National polls suggest their views are shared by a majority of Americans.
To the extent that this common view is true, the fault lies squarely with the voting public.
Although we praise honesty, our actions belie our words. We prefer simple platitudes to complex truths. Worse still, we reward lying.
Candidates who lie about themselves and their opponents rarely pay for their dishonesty. Far too often, they are rewarded at the ballot box.
If we don't want dishonest politicians, then it is up to us to stop them. Reject those who lie and manipulate the public.
Hugh LaFollette, St. Petersburg
Ike leaves behind scene of destruction but not death | Sept. 16, story
Don't inflict oil slicks
on the beaches of Florida
If you think drilling for oil in the gulf off Florida's coast is a good idea, just let words from this story sink into your mind before oil sinks into our beaches.
In updating us on Ike's destruction, the Times story mentions "oil and chemical slicks in the surf where vacationers once frolicked." This describes, in part, what rescuers found in and around Galveston, Texas, as the water retreated.
Let's not change the law passed in 2006 to keep offshore drilling more than 200 miles off our coast. We already know that more drilling won't significantly reduce the price of gas now or anytime in the near future. But stinky, oily beaches will definitely and permanently reduce the number of tourists. It will reduce the quality of life for both the people and wildlife who are lucky enough to call this beautiful area "home."
Anne Snyder, Belleair Beach
Don't dismiss need for gulf drilling | Sept. 15, letter
Blame dirty shipping
Having worked in the oil fields of Louisiana as a young man, I feel a need to reply to the letter writer, and indeed all of the supporters of gulf drilling off Florida's coast, who argue that we need not be worried about the environmental impact of drilling because we've had no major spills from oil rigs damaged during hurricanes.
Please be clear: If we adopt these shortsighted energy policies, the beaches won't be ruined by oil spills in the gulf, but they will be ruined by the high volume of industrial maritime traffic to and from these rigs from our ports. These rigs require constant support from construction barges, fuel and water barges, supply boats, crew boats, etc.
Even though there are laws against doing so, the companies who run these maritime ventures know that it is cheaper to pay the fines (on the off chance they might be caught throwing garbage overboard or pumping out oil-laden bilge) than it is to curtail these practices. I know this because I saw it.
It is these vessels that will ruin our beaches. True, such industry will boost our economy, but only at the expense of the much more profitable tourism industry. It is time to move away from fossil fuels and begin developing renewable energy sources.
Patrick E. Timmel, St. Petersburg
Offshore oil drilling
State needs the revenue
There seems to be no end of people who want to keep oil exploration and drilling away from the shores of Florida. How many of them are happy with the state revenue situation in Florida? Don't they realize that there is a great potential for the state to get revenue from the drilling royalties? No one is even mentioning that. Drilling will not only benefit the consumers of gasoline but also help with the state's difficulty in enhancing its revenues.
With all the discussion of Alaska in the news, it should be brought to the public's attention that Alaska gets large royalties from the oil production in the state. This results in a dividend to the people that substantially reduces their net tax burden. Instead of championing an income tax, the Times should be helping the public understand all sides of the issue, particularly the side that is not well known.
It should also be pointed out that the oil drilling itself will provide a number of skilled job opportunities as well as provide downstream economic benefits. The Times should be in the forefront in explaining these items to the public.
John J. Christman, Parrish
In one a monumental flip-flop, John "Straight Talk" McCain now opposes the deregulation of American business that he and George W. Bush and the powerful lobbyists who bankrolled their campaigns had so successfully achieved. Corporate fat cats walk away from the financial institutions that Bush and McCain made it easy for them to devastate, the only "punishment" being that they will live out their lives in the lap of luxury, thanks to their golden parachutes, while the taxpayers are left holding the bag. In socializing the risks of reckless businesspeople, Bush continues to increase the size of our government without making any effort to fund it, and McCain vows to create new federal agencies to deal with the crisis that he himself helped enable.
We'll all be paying the costs of Bush and McCain's successful deregulation efforts for years to come. But we can be grateful that one of their efforts was a failure: the privatization of Social Security and the diversion of those funds into the kinds of financial market instruments that McCain now likens to gambling casinos. The Democrats in Congress helped protect this country from that. Now it is time for the American people to protect this country from John McCain.
Gregory A. Morgan, Lutz
Thank the Democrats
Two years ago House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said things were bad and if we only returned the Democrats to Congress they would fix everything. Gas was $2.50 a gallon, earmarks were out of control, Congress wasn't doing its job. Corporate executives were robbing us, more oversight was needed on Wall Street, etc. So the country heeded her call and returned the Democrats to power in Congress.
And boy did they fix things! Gas is now around $4 a gallon, the housing situation is a mess, our financial system imploded, Wall Street is in turmoil, Russia is in Georgia (due to liberals sending a message to insurgents that the United States does not have a stomach for war). Folks are at risk of losing their retirement savings. Earmarks are more popular than ever. Yes, Pelosi and her fellow Democrats really fixed things.
I think Barack Obama summed it up: You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig. Please do not give the Democrats any more lipstick.
Richard Mack, Dunnellon
State sues in $37M fraud | Sept. 18, story
Honesty not all gone
My husband is a Realtor with Re/Max and we own our own mortgage company in Oldsmar. I read this article in the Times and came to the conclusion that these few individuals who cost our banks more than $37-million are just a fraction of the fraud that was perpetrated on us the taxpayers of this country.
We are the ones who are going to pay in the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is totally outrageous that this went on in our community and I know of at least five properties that are sitting vacant and for sale at substantially less than what the current mortgage is. We had many opportunities to be involved in deals like this and integrity prevailed; we turned them down.
The actions of these individuals reflect poorly on our industry, however, rest assured most of us are honest.
Suzanne Vale, Oldsmar
State sues in $37M fraud | Sept. 18, story
I am amazed (but not surprised) reading in this story that "real estate agents are exempt from the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act." This fact seems to open up a huge invitation for some investigative reporter to look into why this should be and what other professions are exempt.
It seems outrageous to have this exemption. Are used car salesmen exempt as well? What legislator will immediately strive to fix this obvious loophole? That would be a change I could believe in!
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
140 fall for trip to the Orient | Sept. 18, story
A welcome sting
I want to express my gratitude and offer praise to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and their detectives for a job well done.
Burglaries are typically not front-page news but happen every week here in the Tampa Bay area — causing distress and panic across all income levels.
Having been a recent victim of a home burglary, I can say firsthand that it is profoundly upsetting to come home to a house that has been burglarized. A stranger has gone through your things and has taken your sense of security and your privacy.
Congratulations to all of our local law enforcement. You should be proud and you have our thanks. And to those recently swept up in the sting: Enjoy your stay in "the Orient!" May you spend your time there pondering where it all went so wrong.
Lena Davie, Tampa