We need engineers | Nov. 24, letters
Critical thinking skills needed
As a professor of anthropology, I take issue with this letter's comments about university liberal arts degrees. First, while the writer is correct about the need for more engineers, IT specialists and people with advanced business degrees, there is an even greater need for workers who can critically think, clearly write, and be articulate communicators regardless of their profession. A good liberal arts education provides these skills and more, including a broad-based understanding of an increasingly complex and culturally diverse world.
Second, many undergraduate degrees are stepping stones to graduate and professional programs where advanced training is required. Many students who major in the humanities or social sciences, for example, know this and plan to pursue masters and doctorates. So, there are no surprises when it comes to the prospects of landing a job with a BA or BS in a highly specialized field.
Third, the mantra today in higher education is on the importance of cross-training students in two or more disciplines. For instance, the federal government's National Science Foundation funds programs where undergraduates from diverse fields such as engineering, public health and anthropology conduct research and use technology to find sustainable solutions for environmental and health problems.
David Himmelgreen, Tampa
Remember all faiths
Yes, Virginia, there are Jews in Plant City, and it's about time that the stores here understand that Jewish people celebrate holidays too. I am so tired of going into the large chain stores, food stores included, and not being able to find things like menorahs, Hanukkah candles and dreidels, to mention a few.
I am a New Jersey transplant and have lived in this fabulous rural town for 12 years with my African-American husband. We love Plant City. It offers a great variety of strawberry fields forever, cows, horses and good restaurants. And more wonderful stores are coming soon. I am a soon to be retired teacher and love to teach my students about all cultures.
But apparently Plant City doesn't get that there are more religions out there than just Christianity. Stores should begin to respect that fact.
Gerri Kradin Baldridge, Plant City
Hospitals settle fraud inquiry | Nov. 22
Management is overpaid
BayCare is accused of Medicare overbilling and settles for $10 million. The president of Morton Plant Mease, Glenn Waters, claims he was confused by Medicare's billing procedures. Waters made over $1 million in 2010; who knows what he makes now. You would think BayCare would be able to hire someone competent to bill Medicare.
Many in the BayCare management team make six- and even seven-figure annual salaries. Steve Mason of BayCare is running full-page ads in the Tampa Bay Times trying to get people to drop UnitedHealthcare insurance. He made more than $2.5 million in 2010.
Who does BayCare care more about: the people it serves or its overpaid management staff?
Jane Rick, St. Petersburg
All in this together
I guarantee you that the owners of the various restaurants who are opposing health care for their employees have excellent health care for themselves and their families. If it were not for their employees, they could not and would not be business owners. We are all in this together, and it's time that we all realize this.
We refuse to support those businesses until they support their employees. A healthy worker is a productive worker.
Jeanette Bright, Clearwater
Officials file first bills of the season | Nov. 24
Driving is a privilege
Driving is not a right. It is a privilege that one has to earn, because the physics of operating a vehicle can and will cause great damage if attention is not consistent. Legislators have the right to an opinion, but not to use opinions as facts.
Jim Deveney, Pinellas Park
U.S. needs minimum tax on high incomes Nov. 27, commentary
Let president try it his way
I am a lifelong Republican, and I am getting tired of being thought of as being a protector of the rich. Barack Obama won, and I think that it is time to let him try it his way. If his plan does work, then great. If it doesn't, then those theories will have been disproved and we can try something that might work.
The people who are talking the loudest for the rich are themselves rich media guys who have the most to lose. I am starting to think that they protest too much.
Jerry Pell, St. Petersburg
Disabled kids' parents 'fired up' Nov. 25
Put children's safety first
A child's death is always tragic, but even more so when it happens under the care of school personnel, and especially when county officials start passing the buck of who was at fault. Some of the questions I feel are important: Were there enough aides in the class to watch the ESE students? Did the county take into consideration how many aides versus the severity of the disabilities of the students? These are just two of the problems that the school system passes on to the schools.
Maybe these two deaths won't be in vain. Maybe the school system will realize that ESE requires more personnel to make a effective program that is safe.
Agnes Murphy, Valrico
Public servant shortage
I went to the local Social Security office on the Friday after Thanksgiving only to discover it was closed. I then called Congressman Gus Bilirakis' office to see if there was a new federal holiday. Lo and behold, his office was closed "in observance of Thanksgiving." I would have called President Barack Obama to complain, but news reports said he was golfing.
I guess the Social Security employees do need the time off, because the local office is open to the public a staggering 30 hours per week. It is being reduced to 27 hours per week next year. That should help them cope better.
While the general public has not been paying attention, politicians of both parties have been catering to the government employee unions. It is reaching a point that the public will be working for the government instead of the government serving the needs of the public.
R.J. McDarby, Valrico