Immigrants make positive impact on Florida
Every nation has the right to control its borders. For much of American history, we openly welcomed immigration. With these immigrants, America grew into a nation unlike any before it in economic power, prowess and liberties — freedom in expression, worship and pursuit of happiness. The immigrant's story tells the success of our nation.
Yet, the combination of 9/11 and the recession has brought a skeptical eye to immigrants. It's easy to miss the historical truth of how immigration has driven economic growth. Recent studies show that a large presence of undocumented workers goes along with high employment, better wages and low crime rates.
That may sound counterintuitive. It works like this: Undocumented workers fill the lowest-paying, seasonal jobs that drive much of Florida's economic activity. When produce is harvested, resorts fully staffed, odd construction jobs filled, the economy is humming and Floridians can find full-time work. The more Floridians are working, the greater the pressure to pay them better wages. With full employment, the crime rate falls.
When the economy is weak, undocumented workers move out of the state seeking the next cash job, and a lot of Floridians are unemployed because of economic inactivity. Whether as undocumented or guest workers, Florida needs immigrants.
Proposals to criminalize out-of-status persons, mandate employment verification and deputize local police as federal enforcement agents all have severe problems. They have the state usurp federal responsibilities in ways that overregulate business, drive up costs, increase taxes, compromise law enforcement, create orphans, drive away conventions and cause foreigners to cancel their vacations. Altogether this makes for a perfect economic storm — the last thing any of us need.
The moral thing is to drop anti-immigrant proposals and instead implore Florida's federal delegation to press for comprehensive immigration reform.
The Rev. Russell Meyer, executive director, Florida Council of Churches, Tampa
Going it alone on oil damages | April 20, editorial
Florida will aggressively seek compensation for spill
As Florida's attorney general, I am committed to ensuring that our state is compensated for any economic harm resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The legal remedy that promises to give Florida the maximum recovery in the shortest time is the federal Oil Pollution Act, which makes BP and any other responsible party strictly and fully liable for such harm.
OPA requires our state — like any other party harmed by the oil spill — to present a claim to BP before resorting to a lawsuit. Although Florida has at least three years from the date of the oil spill to assert its legal rights under OPA, we intend to file a claim with BP this summer. If BP does not do the right thing and pay that claim, I will not hesitate to take BP and any other responsible party to court.
The Times editorial seems to ignore the applicable legal background. It criticizes Florida's decision not to join an ongoing lawsuit against Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, even though that lawsuit would do absolutely nothing to advance the economic interests of Florida's taxpayers. Indeed, in exchange for no material benefit, entering the lawsuit could have exposed Florida to tens of millions of dollars in attorneys' fees. And contrary to the impression created by your editorial, which refers to a "multistate lawsuit" against Transocean, three of Florida's four sister gulf states made the same decision not to enter the Transocean case at this time.
Florida continues to have a legal right to full compensation from BP and the other parties responsible for the oil spill, including Transocean. I will promptly and vigorously pursue our state's claim, if necessary through litigation, guided all the while by the goal of maximizing the benefit to our taxpayers.
Pam Bondi, Florida attorney general
Waste disposal is the key
Modern nuclear power plants are pretty safe. What is dangerous is indefinite onsite storage of spent fuel. That's what caused the disaster in Japan and poses a threat to all nuclear power plants that might face similar acts of nature. This crisis derives from a failure to figure out how to safely dispose of nuclear waste.
One solution could be to pulverize it, barge it far enough out to sea to minimize the NIMBY (not in my backyard) factor, and allow ocean currents to disperse it.
We absolutely need more wind and solar power, hybrids, all-electrics and other high-fuel-economy vehicles. But do not sell modern, safe nuclear power short for the wrong reason.
Joseph F. Bohren, Odessa
Monarchy's time is past
Since even the most respected news outlets, like the BBC, are covering the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it is difficult to escape the frivolous nonsense of it all.
The practice of inheriting a throne and holding it for life should have ended long ago. No one has a divine right to anything. No one should by birth become a king, queen or prince.
Monarchy has nothing to do with merit. A person with no particular talent has no right to be elevated to a royal position. The British throne is also institutionally sexist.
The monarchy is not accountable, yet taxpayers in the United Kingdom must finance the royals' lavish lifestyles.
The current royal family needs to be the last. The easiest way for that to happen is for Charles and others in line to simply abdicate.
Jeff Brinckman, St. Petersburg
House okays sweeping pill law | April 22
Legitimate need for pills
I am afraid. I am one of the forgotten people in the current hysteria over pill abuse. I take pain pills for a legitimate reason. The pills do not take away my pain entirely, but they reduce it to the point that I can function almost normally. However, because others abuse painkillers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get them.
Now I see that the Legislature wants to put additional restrictions on dispensing these painkillers. They think restricting a pharmacy to 5,000 doses per month is reasonable? Think about it. If every day three legitimate users who take three pills a day come into a pharmacy to get a month's supply, the pharmacy would reach its limit by about the 20th of the month. If you go to the doctor and get your prescription on the 21st, you're out of luck and can plan on running from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find one that has not reached its quota.
You don't hear about much about us. We do not make good sound bites like those affected by addicted friends or family, but we are out here too. And I'm sure I am not the only one who is afraid.
Elizabeth Heim, Weeki Wachee