Prescription drug abuse
Drug sentences need more sense
Since the 1980s, the war on drugs has resulted in stiff minimum mandatory sentences for drug traffickers caught with boatloads of drugs imported from foreign countries. Somehow, the minimum mandatory drug trafficking sentences were amended to include as little as seven prescription pain pills, and people addicted to pain medication after an injury were included in this web meant for big-time drug traffickers.
This has to stop. We cannot economically handle the drain on our society to prosecute and warehouse individuals who simply need drug treatment. These people — our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters — who suffer pain prescription drug addictions can more economically be counseled and treated as opposed to being warehoused in our prisons and labeled convicted felons.
State Reps. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and Dave Hood, R-Daytona Beach, and state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, have introduced legislation that raises the quantity of oxycodone and hydrocodone for various minimum mandatory prison sentences. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, has agreed to support this legislation, with conditions. These legislators should be applauded by the people of Florida for this display of courage and leadership.
Jamie Benjamin, president, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Fort Lauderdale
Words of wisdom from a teenager Nov. 28, commentary
Support global education
Thanks to Leonard Pitts for his column about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager whom the Taliban tried to assassinate. She is an inspiration to all.
Pitts writes, "I am thankful Malala is in the world." Perhaps the best "thank you" for Malala would be for the United States to support education for all children globally. Girls especially need support, and the benefits to them, their countries and our country are great. With education, they are more productive, less likely to contract disease, generally have fewer children (whom they raise in a more healthy fashion), and are able to provide for their families. When they lift themselves out of poverty, their children are less likely to become terrorists or fighters.
The U.S. House has a bill pending, HR 2780, the Education For All Act of 2013, that should be supported by all our local representatives. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is already on board and the rest should join as well. The bill lays out the principles for U.S. support for global basic education. It supports the Global Partnership for Education, which has been successful in getting responsible aid to where it does the most good.
Malala Yousafzai woke us up to the need for education for girls and all children. We need to follow through.
Ken Schatz, Tampa
Classical music makes even young hearts race | Nov. 29, commentary
The power of music
It was in 1946, when I was about 2 years old, that my mother took me to watch the Walt Disney production Fantasia. I will always remember The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky and Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. I was 6 when I received my first radio. The only radio station that had a classical format was low power and 50 miles away, so the only time I could tune in was two hours after sunset. The only music my family listened to was then called "hillbilly," so you can imagine my mother's shock when she found out what I was listening to.
I have been a strong supporter of the classics my whole life; it is the only music I know of that allows the soul to soar free of the body or assists the brain to focus.
Music education, like a lot of other things, has fallen by the wayside in the rush to teach children to fit the cookie-cutter standards that steal their humanity and creativity. I hope for the columnist's sake he finds fulfillment in life by passing on his passion for the classics to the generations to come.
John Johnson, Pinellas Park
Subject: Humanities are more than 'useful' Nov. 29, commentary
Liberal arts oversold
Every educated person should be interested in music, literature, art, and all the other intellectual subjects. However, to say that justifies finishing a liberal arts major is irresponsible.
The liberal arts have been oversold to make sure colleges can afford construction, coaches, and three hot meals for writers not good enough to compete on the open market. When will ivory tower occupants admit that an economic meltdown means using the library instead of risking debt on a pipe dream?
Our next big recession could be the result of too many taking out loans at the taxpayers' expense.
Edward Saint-Ivan, Tampa
Thank Florida farmers for bounty Nov. 28, letter
Don't forget the harvesters
Adam Putnam, Florida's commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, noted that Floridians and others should be thankful for the bounty of Florida farmers, fishermen, ranchers and growers. In addition, we should be thankful for the many migrant workers who plant and harvest our vegetables and citrus fruit. Without their labor, the bounty we enjoy would be impossible.
Sue Price, Tierra Verde
Shooting ranges need to review their rentals of guns | Dec. 2, Ernest Hooper column
Difficult to prevent
I understand Ernest Hooper's concern over people killing themselves with rented weapons at shooting ranges, but what kind of background check would reveal whether or not a person is suicidal? If that individual has his mind made up to end his life, he'll do it at a gun range or off the Sunshine Skyway. Unfortunately there's not much anyone can do about it.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor