Democrats should show some courage | Jan. 25, Cynthia Tucker column
Respect voter views on health care
I must take issue with Cynthia Tucker's column in Monday's paper. She asserts that Democrats in Congress should charge full speed ahead and pass health care regardless of public sentiment and no Republican support. She asserts that the current plan is the right thing to do and that Medicare "met a hailstorm of disapproval" when it originally passed in 1965.
Actually, the original Medicare legislation passed in the House 307 to 116 and in the Senate 70 to 24 against. Yes, there was disapproval of the bills early on, but bipartisan negotiations crafted a final bill that was supported by both sides of the aisle in both houses in 1965.
Now Tucker says Congress should ignore the 61 percent of the public that doesn't want health care reform, disregard the fact the bills currently have zero bipartisan support and push this legislation through. It must be easy for Tucker, safely ensconced in her ivory tower, to tell others to charge off the cliff.
She ends with "what's the point of holding office if you're not prepared to do something courageous every now and then?" Maybe the courageous thing to do is simply start over, work for bipartisan support on individual sections of the bill and consider the opinion of the electorate.
K.L. Blikken, St. Petersburg
Don't look for a bipartisan approach
Several letters published on Jan. 22 thought that the Times editorial Final Option: Send health bill to House was a terrible idea. They also suggested that instead the president and government should start over with a nonpartisan bill.
I think that is a wonderful idea but wonder how it could be accomplished. The letter writers only need to look at the Nick Anderson political cartoon published on the same page as their letters to answer why starting over would only be an exercise in futility. The cartoon depicts an elephant leader asking, "Can we obstruct every initiative from the Obama administration?" with elephants in the audience shouting "Yes we can."
Jerry R. Dangler, Palm Harbor
We should be responsible | Jan. 23, letter regarding Attorney General Bill McCollum's threat to sue over health care legislation
The letter writer muses, "I wonder if (Bill) McCollum is going to sue the state of Florida for requiring us to buy auto insurance" as a facet of his argument in support of federal mandatory health insurance. He draws on another mandate that is, in reality, a good argument against his position.
First, mandatory car insurance does not require that you cover yourself. It demands you cover other people should you run into them while being granted the use of the public roads. You must only buy insurance as a trade-off for using the public roads.
Second, studies show about a third of Florida drivers go without insurance despite the mandate.
James W. Benefiel, Dunedin
Who will ride it?
Is there anyone out there who's actually given a thought to high-speed rail? Let's see, folks who want to go to Disney World and other nearby attractions will fly into Orlando, not Tampa. So, why do we want a high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando?
Has anyone ever thought about who's going to ride the high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando? I thought not, given that it's cheaper to fly into Orlando. I suspect that it would take longer to get from the rail terminal to the Orlando attractions than it would take to get from Tampa to Disney. Probably cost more than a rental car, too.
Okay, the rail thing will bring a lot of money into Florida, create jobs for a bunch of people, etc. But once it's built, then what? Are we going to have to support it with our taxes?
Gee, it would be nice if someone, anyone, would do a bit of research about how many folks would actually ride the high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando before we spend a gazillion dollars to build it.
Chuck Sambol, St. Petersburg
The house of preposterous payouts Jan. 25, story
We'll cling to cars
The state of Florida does not need to take this house via eminent domain because the state does not need high-speed rail. Here is why: I live a block from Fowler Avenue, 3 miles east of the University of South Florida. The No. 57 Hartline bus picks up every morning at 7 minutes after the hour. Probably more than 100 USF faculty, staff and students live within walking distance of that bus stop. For faculty and staff, it's 25 cents; for students, it's free.
Know how many USF people are on that bus in the morning (other than yours truly, when my bike is broken)? None. Nada. Zilch.
No, Floridians are not going to drive to a train stop, wait for a train and then take a cab to their destination when they simply can drive there. The same applies to Tampa-Orlando-Miami. Can any of your readers look in the mirror and say they are giving up their vehicle for a train? What a colossal waste of taxpayers' money! And for very few jobs.
Ken Keller, Temple Terrace
The house of preposterous payouts Jan. 25, story
Government at work
Excellent story. This needs to be seen by every citizen in the country. Folks need to realize that just about everything the government gets involved in, is usually not cost-effective! Can you imagine what they would do to the health care system?
Don Trosclair, Pace
Look to the wind | Jan. 16, letter
Overblown energy source
Alternative energy schemes are overhyped to the point of being folklore. Hence it is not surprising that well-intended suggestions are published, such as the one that the answer to west Florida's energy needs "is blowin' in the wind."
Unfortunately the folklore itself is overblown. Based on 10 years of offshore wind observations, plus commercial specifications for a GE 3.6 megawatt wind turbine, Florida's west coast can on annual average provide about 1 MW of power per turbine. Rated capacity is not achieved because the wind must blow 7 knots just to turn the blades.
Given that the TECO Big Bend power plant is rated at 1,800 MW, we would need 1,800 of these turbines to replace that one power plant. And these turbines are behemoths, equivalent in area to tilting Raymond James Stadium on end. Siting 1,800 of these along the coastline 1 km apart would require stacking them three deep from Tallahassee to Key West. Just imagine the coastal community uproar to this invasion of the coastline.
The reality is that wind energy can merely supplement, not replace power generation by conventional means. Similar can be said of other over-hyped methods. The real alternative is nuclear, but few wish to speak about that.
Robert H. Weisberg, distinguished university professor, College of Marine Science-USF, Tierra Verde
Gitmo panel backs indefinite detentions Jan. 23
How ironic that on the day when President Barack Obama had pledged a year ago to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay it was instead announced that he has decided to detain approximately 50 prisoners indefinitely without trial.
This decision means that these individuals have in effect been sentenced to life imprisonment, without any legal process or recourse, based on concerns about what they might do in the future or the difficulty of bringing their cases to trial.
This decision goes against our basic constitutional principles that no president or king should have the right to imprison people at will and that it is the province of the courts to so decide based on evidence. In addition, the announcement confirms to those in other countries that the United States, at challenging times, may abandon its ideals.
Judy Moore, Lutz
Bin Laden blesses bomb plot | Jan. 25
A destructive bent
I find it ironic that while much of the world has joined together to do good work by coming to the aid of the Haitian people, Islamic murderers are plotting to cause even more death and carnage to innocent people. Imagine if all of that hatred was put into something constructive.
Peter DiCostanzo, St. Pete Beach