Goalposts keep moving | Jan. 23, letter
Dedication, competence are key
This letter made reference to the one-room schoolhouses of the 1800s. After listening to the professionals and politicians theorizing on how to improve educational achievement in the public schools (with little success), we might learn from my experience attending a one-room schoolhouse with no plumbing or electricity in Center Barnstead, N.H., in the '30s.
Our teacher, Alice Powers, had the obligation of teaching 20 poor farm children in grades 1 through 8 in the same room at the same time. These children came from families with little or no formal education. By the eighth grade, all of her students could read, write, solve math problems, and had a knowledge of history and geography — hardly the case in public high schools today. Thanks to Alice Powers, I graduated from college and law school, and the math skills developed in her classes served me well as a U.S. Air Force pilot.
How was Alice Powers able to educate those poor children without Head Start, kindergarten or modern facilities? Could it be dedication and competence? Many, unfortunately, are attracted to teaching for the security provided by tenure which has made it almost impossible to fire the incompetent. Other than turning to communism, education is the only way to close the income inequality gap.
Lt. Col. Harold H. Dean, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), St. Petersburg
Stand for marriage equality | Jan. 23, editorial
And justice for all …
In my opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court did a great injustice to this country by leaving same-sex marriage in the hands of the states.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have struck down the ban on same-sex marriage. In states that have defended it, the ban was eventually struck down, as in California. With so many states coming to the conclusion that the ban violates the Constitution, isn't it obvious what the outcome will be? How can it violate the Constitution and be discriminatory toward the people in one state and not in all states?
I, for one, am tired of it. The Supreme Court should have finished the job and given the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of this country what it truly deserves — justice.
Mark Cichewicz, St. Petersburg
High tides spell trouble | Jan. 23
Climate change prudence
Thanks for Craig Pittman's informative article on high tides getting higher and threatening businesses, homes and infrastructure while raising everyone's flood insurance rates. Gov. Rick Scott isn't so sure about man-made climate change. One would think the governor of Florida, where 95 percent of the population lives within 35 miles of the coast, would nonetheless take out climate change insurance to protect his state.
Climate change insurance means doing what the vast majority of scientists and economists say to do to slow climate change, even if the governor isn't 100 percent sure it is happening. That is what insurance means: When there is uncertainty, buy protection.
The vast majority of scientists say greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from fossil fuel use, are the cause of climate change. So climate insurance would entail lowering these emissions.
Moreover, the vast majority of scientists and economists say the best way to lower emissions is with a national, revenue-neutral carbon tax that would reduce emissions in all sectors of our economy efficiently and equitably. If Congress requires that the tax be rebated to households, then consumers can be protected from price increases.
And if costs go up a little bit, consider it a small price to pay to protect your house, business, land, food supply, water supply and your families' lives.
Judy Weiss, Citizens Climate Lobby, Brookline, Mass.
Build on Obamacare toward universal care Jan. 3, commentary
Radical reform needed
This column by Michael Moore summed up what I believe most Americans feel about the Affordable Care Act. I think this is the worst possible plan for the American people.
Moore's mention of a single-payer system of health care is right on target. With a single-payer system we can have true equal access to health services for everyone while eliminating the high salaries and benefits that health insurance CEOs receive at the expense of the working class. Funneling $100 billion into the pockets of health insurance companies is not ensuring that every American has equal access to health care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimate that administrative costs for Medicare are around 2 percent annually, while the private insurance industry spends more than 12 percent. The federal government has already proven to me that they can control costs while providing services to Medicare patients.
Kimberly Charlton, Kenneth City
I am writing today because I didn't have to spend a penny on prescription drugs last year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. I had a Medicare Advantage plan. Insurance companies have to spend at least 80 percent of my plan's premiums on direct care for us. If they don't, I get a refund.
I am grateful to Congress and the president for insisting that health insurance reform provide affordable coverage for basic services to all. This makes a portion of corporate America act more humanely.
Jodi Cohen, Lutz
Fact vs. fiction in the income gap debate Jan. 26
Raise up, don't drag down
In this article, Sen. Bernie Sanders states that "nearly 6 out of 10 believe that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people in the U.S."
Income is not something that is "distributed" like candy to a child. Income is earned. Government has no business determining the value of an employee. Yes, cab drivers make less than doctors. Are the people who advocate "income distribution" saying that we should all be making the same amount of money so that we can all live in equal houses and buy equal food? If they are, then they should just come out and say that instead of sugarcoating it.
Rich people are getting richer because they have money to invest in land, stocks and bonds, etc. The problem is not knocking down the rich. The problem is bringing up the poor. We can do that by making education affordable for those who truly want to get out of their situation. Another solution is to make people aware that having and raising children costs money. Single moms with four or five kids to raise on their own are going to have financial difficulty.
Ronald Melone, Clearwater