As laws get tough, crops rot | June 26, Bill Maxwell column
Farmers should use visa program
In this column on immigration, Bill Maxwell uses fear, as many of our politicians do, to convince us that strict immigration laws are causing growers to scramble to find enough workers to keep their crops from withering on the vine.
But the H-2A visa program, in place for many years, allows these growers to hire seasonal foreign workers when they can't find enough Americans to pick their crops. The rules of the H-2A program require growers to demonstrate they have tried to hire Americans to no avail, and that hiring foreigners will not diminish the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. These foreigners, once approved, can remain in America for up to 364 days at a time.
The truth is that many farmers do not want to take advantage of the H-2A because under it they have to pay an almost decent wage. It is cheaper to use illegals, who won't complain about unfair or unsafe working conditions and lack of medical care and decent lodging.
Sharon Lam, Hudson
Stadium backers kill idea | June 30
Voters deserve a say
It is a pity that the Charter Review Commission let itself be lobbied into rejecting an amendment that would have required voter approval of city projects of more than $100 million. This action is a serious mistake.
As Mark S. Rosentraub, a professor of urban policy, writes, "A welfare system exists in this country that transfers hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers to wealthy investors and their extraordinarily well-paid employees."
He's right. No city should ask its citizens to fund any project over $100 million without letting the voters have a say in the matter.
Chris Steinocher, the chamber of commerce president, thinks that the passage of such an amendment would discourage sports teams or other businesses from "making an investment" in our area and adds that "developers need certainty right now."
No, Mr. Steinocher. It's the people of St. Petersburg who need certainty now, more than ever — certainty that their services and benefits will not continue to be cut while their tax dollars are being requested for private corporations. If businesses want to make an investment, great. Just don't ask the citizens for a handout. Let us vote on how our money is spent.
Faith Andrews Bedford, St. Petersburg
White: I can't afford an attorney | July 1
Taxpayers get taken
What's going on here? If it's me or Joe Sixpack, and we can't afford a lawyer, we are given a public defender. If former Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White can buy a new home, how can he not afford a lawyer? And if he can't, I suggest the judge should have given him a legal eagle just out of law school.
Once again we the taxpayers are getting the shaft. By the way, White was photographed in a sharp pinstripe suit. What are the chances that political contributions paid for that?
Ray Rasmussen, Tampa
Cost of wars
New strategy needed
I am not a pacifist or isolationist. I fought in the Korean War with a good conscience.
However, I am appalled at the enormous cost (going on $4 trillion) of our ongoing military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and sideshows like Libya. And even more disturbing to note is the over 6,000 military deaths and the countless seriously wounded.
I also question how we can expect our troops to serve two and even three tours of duty in a combat zone.
At some point we must ask why we have 30,000 combat troops in Korea and many more in Europe. The South Korean military is well able to defend itself against the impoverished North. And NATO has long outlived its original purpose of defending Europe against Soviet aggression.
This is not a mindless cry to "bring the boys home," but a call for our country to re-evaluate its military strategy to make it more cost effective and to reduce the stress on our committed voluntary service personnel.
Donald Haverstrom, Spring Hill
The last honest cynic | June 30, commentary
Politics over duty
I have always hated cynicism, honest or otherwise. Ezra Klein's column about Sen. Mitch McConnell describes perfectly what it is I hate.
McConnell and his ilk are not about to promote their right-wing policies in an honest way in an attempt to win votes. Instead, they will make every effort to hurt the nation to the point that the electorate will demand a change of governance. Unfortunately, the electorate, with few exceptions, will get the type of governance that it really doesn't want.
Paul Mathieu, Sun City Center
Danger after dark
While driving after dark, I was stopped by a traffic officer for a violation caused by old-age vision. The officer said, "I am not going to give you a ticket, but I suggest that you try to do your driving in the daytime."
I wish to pass on that suggestion to all drivers, and especially the many Florida senior citizens whose eyes are not what they used to be. Many thanks to the traffic officer.
Emerson Riggs, Seminole
Pumping up the vote | July 1, letter
Treat the oil addiction
This letter characterizes America as an addicted user of oil, and I agree. But I disagree with calls for government-driven programs to produce more domestic oil.
Let's use an analogy and substitute heroin for oil. If America's problem were an addiction to heroin, and we had to rely on, say, Afghanistan to satisfy our addiction, then the best answer for America is not to produce our own heroin but to work to get off the drug completely.
We need to work to get America off the addiction to the finite resources of oil and on to renewable energy. In the not-too-distant future oil resources will be depleted, and going cold turkey will not be pretty unless we have alternatives in place.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Nothing unique in review of old rules July 1, PolitiFact
A step in the right direction
I could not believe my eyes. You have rated one of President Barack Obama's statements as "Pants on Fire" false. Keep it up and you might improve your circulation.
Tom Lewis, Bradenton