Fixing Florida will be fun to watch | June 12, Howard Troxler column
State must invest in universities
I have been reading the pundit and columnist Howard Troxler for years. I may not always agree with him and some of his takes on Tallahassee, but I sat up straight when he was gracious enough to put this in his final column for the Times: "Florida needs a world-class state university system or it will never be a great state. Florida needs to invest in itself. It needs to invest in public — yes, public — education. It needs a diverse, educated, intelligent work force."
To that I say: Amen, brother. From your keyboard to all state leaders' ears!
The State University System of Florida and its 11 public institutions are at it every day. For more, and how to support us, please see www.flbog.edu.
Frank T. Brogan, chancellor, State University System, Tallahassee
Internet cafes dodge sheriff by going urban June 11
Lawmakers should clear up confusion over gambling
Internet sweepstakes cafes are businesses that entertain people for a price. "Come to my place, pay me some money, and have yourself some fun." So people go (of their own volition), pay the money, and have some fun.
There are those who don't like this arrangement. Bad things happen in those places: People lose their money, owners lie about the business, it's gambling and gambling is illegal, the places bring crime, moral decay and so on.
The sheriff has been put in a bad position in this quarrel. The laws he is supposed to uphold are not clear.
One thing that is obvious is Florida lawmakers' inability to do their job in clearing up the uncertainty in gambling laws. That is the crux of the problem.
Gambling is legal in Florida. It has been since 1931. It's also illegal. It's legal to gamble at age 18, but in some gambling venues you must be 21. Gambling with cards is legal in some places but not at others. Here you can play slots and there you can't.
It's no surprise that people are confused about gambling and its legal status. For those who say gambling is destroying the Florida lifestyle, look again. Gambling has made Florida what it is today. It was here from the beginning.
If the real issue is to eliminate the sweepstakes cafes, that could be done in a flash. Just open a real slot parlor in the same mall. Have real machines and better payouts. It would be a done deal in a few days.
If the issue is trying to eliminate gambling, wake up. Spend your time working for world peace or maybe eliminating hunger. Your chances will be better.
The providers of gambling are so far ahead of the lawmakers it's embarrassing. They employ smart people from many fields who have developed many systems allowing them to circumvent the poorly written laws.
It's time to make the gambling laws fair, honest, and for everyone. Treat it as a normal business. Buy a license, pay your taxes and compete like everybody else. If people don't want to gamble, it will soon disappear.
Terry Terril, Land O'Lakes
Specialist's call questioned | May 30
Death a fact, not an enemy
In Kris Hundley's article on the use of hospitalists to manage patients, I don't know whether the outcome would have been different if other specialists had been consulted. But I think the reaction of the patient's loved one that he should have been cured reflects a common belief that modern medicine should be able to fix whatever is wrong, and if it doesn't, someone is to blame.
I have been a nurse for almost 50 years, and that experience has taught me that the older we become, the more health problems we have and the more likely death becomes. Diabetes increases the risk of heart and kidney disease. High blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and obesity are other co-morbidities making it more likely that when one thing goes wrong, others will interact starting a cascade of events that is ultimately not reversible.
Those left behind suffer, but the one who has died is beyond pain and suffering.
To me, death is a fact, not an enemy, so I focus on good health habits and gratitude for every day. And I don't expect a specialist to solve the problems resulting from my aging.
Sheila Seckinger, Homosassa
Swipe fee, indeed | June 11, editorial
Cards benefit consumers
When the lowering of bank swipe fees is enacted, merchants will pocket all of the savings; consumers will see none of it. Also, financial institutions will raise other fees to compensate for the loss.
When Australia instituted a similar law, the results were definitely not the ones they wanted or anticipated.
Consumers demand to be able to use credit and debit cards. Merchants see many benefits by accepting them: higher average sale, guaranteed funds in 48 hours or less, no bounced checks, no trip to the bank, less employee fraud, etc.
Visa, MasterCard and the banks developed these systems over many years which benefit both merchants and consumers. The government should keep its nose out of free enterprise.
David Meyer, Bushnell
Spread the burdens
The need to fix our two major entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, is recognized by everyone. But most proposed solutions for Medicare — like the promising one offered by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — delay implementation of cost-cutting measures for up to a decade. Seniors currently receiving Medicare benefits are exempted from any changes, as is anyone 55 years old or older, for the most part.
Two of our five children will be 55 or older before the end of this year. I cannot agree that they should receive preferential treatment over their three siblings who are just a few years younger. Why not take advantage of cost savings by putting folks up to the age of 62 or 63 on the proposed new Medicare program?
On Social Security, when the program began paying monthly benefits to retirees, the money was not subject to income tax. In 1984, the program was amended to provide for a tax on up to 50 percent of benefits, based on adjusted gross income. That was changed to the current level of up to 85 percent of benefits in 1993. Immediate relief for the program can be achieved by raising that limit to 100 percent of benefits received, without affecting low-income folks. Consideration should also be given to reducing benefit payments to current retirees with incomes over $250,000.
Frank Yanacek, Sun City Center