Help choose letter of the month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for January by visiting the website listed below by Friday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three January nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Scott's vanilla budget | Feb. 1, editorial
Tackle climate change
I agree that Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget provides no real benefit to the state of Florida, but even worse it ignores the most important issues our state faces. Local governments are being tasked with addressing the real, physical affects of our changing climate while the state stands idly by.
Omitting funding for infrastructure, for example, is not only an affront to the science that Scott conveniently ignores, but it leaves our coastal cities and adjoining Everglades regions high and dry. Picking up the tab for research and for developing climate solutions, when pursued at the local level, can only be accomplished with temporary bandages, at best. The true costs of carbon emissions are not accounted for in the current fossil fuel economy, and Scott's budget doesn't even try.
A carbon fee-and-dividend policy is an easy and straightforward approach to addressing the real costs of burning fossil fuels. Putting a price on carbon emissions would send a clear market signal to the energy industry, investors and consumers alike, allowing the free market to take its natural course. Innovation in the energy industry would have the chance to flourish.
If the net carbon fee is returned to households as a dividend, the economy could be stimulated by putting cash in consumers' hands. A carbon fee-and-dividend policy would be much more lucrative than pretending that tax breaks trickle down and boost our state's economy.
Caroline Liberti, Tampa
Trump: Roll back reforms | Feb. 4
Path to financial peril
So President Donald Trump opposes a regulation instituted under President Barack Obama that requires financial advisers to make decisions that are in the best interest of their clients.
As someone who has worked his entire adult life and is now dependent on Social Security and personal savings, this is one more thing about Trump's administration that makes me anxious. Why are we even having this conversation?
Why would I not want a regulation that requires financial advice that is in my best interest from someone whom I consult as a professional in that field? This sounds like a plan that appeals to people who have gotten rich manipulating financial regulations.
Jonathan K. Jaberg, Largo
Judge temporarily blocks ban | Feb. 4
Rubio ignores constituents
Last week, for the first time in my life, I called my members of Congress. The Trump administration's unlawful executive order on immigration, the cruel and reckless manner in which it was implemented, the unqualified and unprepared nominees to Cabinet positions — these things and more have me worried and fearful about the direction this country is headed.
In these extraordinary times, it seems all average Floridians can do is ask our representatives to hear us. But Sen. Marco Rubio could not be reached, no matter how many times I and others called his offices.
Instead, Rubio took to Twitter to dismiss and belittle these constituents as "radical left-wing extremists" trying to "control" senators. But if Rubio took some time to actually listen to his constituents instead of insulting them, he might be surprised to learn that we are average citizens whose lives are affected by our government and who have real fears and concerns.
My mother is a retired Pinellas County schoolteacher who relies on Medicare and is concerned about our public schools; my wife is a scientist who is concerned about science funding; I depend on the Affordable Care Act for health insurance. We are not "extremists;" we are normal citizens.
Has Rubio learned nothing from his failed presidential campaign in which he abandoned his dignity and descended into juvenile name-calling and insults? Does Rubio still stand by his campaign statements that Donald Trump is a "dangerous con man" who can't be trusted with the nuclear codes? Or have the many campaign contributions from the billionaire DeVos family clouded his judgment?
Please, senator. You might not be used to hearing from us, but we are Floridians, and we are trying to reach you.
David Higgins, St. Petersburg
A duty to protect
I find it difficult to understand why some segments of our population cannot grasp the real intention behind the temporary ban on immigrants to the United States. First, nowhere in our Constitution does it allow anyone to enter our sovereign nation without our permission. Secondly, the oath that the president takes inherently implies that his duties are to protect the citizens from all dangers directed toward them from any source.
The reason for not including such nations as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, etc., has been given: These nations have established credible vetting mechanisms that have passed our background scrutiny.
To help with our problems with Iran we should contact the thousands of Iranian students matriculating here and provide them with timed exit visas for scheduled deportation. These students would then call on their sponsors in Iran to step back on their war of words with the United States and perhaps even start a dialogue with the mullahs.
Roger H. Oddson, Sun City Center