America falling behind in space
In response to U.S. economic sanctions over its actions in Ukraine, Russia has brought up the fact that we depend on Moscow for transportation to and from the International Space Station.
The United States gave up its capability to put a human being into orbit when we cut NASA's budget and failed to promptly develop a follow-on to the retired space shuttle. NASA's budget has declined from its high point in 1966 of some $36 billion of today's dollars to less than half that amount this year, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget. The decline has been consistent under both Democrats and Republicans.
We have drawn back from space and the technological growth that space research has given us in the past. When we were aggressively conducting the quest for technological advances in the space program under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, we developed new devices that transformed the electronics industry. The investment in space research has been estimated to have had a rate of return for the American economy of some 33 percent.
Our parsimonious standard of support for NASA has resulted in an abject dependence on Russia for transportation services as well as stunting research that would grow the economy for decades, as it once did. We should set an ambitious goal and fund the technological race to achieve it. The spinoffs will invigorate our economy and spirit.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
'Insane' gun bill dies in Senate | May 2
Cooler heads prevail
Thank you to the "sane" legislators in our Florida Senate. Why anyone would have approved such a dangerous bill is hard to fathom. Fortunately, cooler and smarter heads prevailed. It's sad that the NRA has such a stranglehold on so many of our politicians.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and I have not always agreed, but we are on the same page now. The duty of public servants is to serve their constituents; however, it seems that money and power are often in the forefront. Score one for Tallahassee. I'm encouraged.
Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey
School voucher bill passes | May 2
Power to the parents
I am a very involved father in my children's education. After many years of running into too many obstacles, I decided to look into school choice for my sons. I tried to get my children enrolled; however, there were always challenges and policies that hindered my children's education. For three years I have been working toward better opportunities for my children as well as helping provide other parents with the information needed to help our students succeed.
I am happy that the Florida Legislature passed the bill to allow more parents to get school choice scholarships. This a great victory for parents who should be given the option to choose a better education for their children. By uniting, making telephone calls and letting the politicians know that we want change, parents have proved the power of a united voice.
This bill will have a tremendous impact on so many families.
Luis Leon, Brooksville
Report describes chaotic execution | May 2
Halt the barbarism
As the leader of the free world, the United States is in the minority by allowing capital punishment. According to the ACLU, more than 140 nations have abolished the death penalty; 58 have not. It should be noted, however, that less than 50 percent of those 58 actually engage in the practice.
The United States has failed to sign or ratify major international treaties calling for the abolition of capital punishment. If we just consider the mistakes that have been made in the execution of innocent people, it should be clear that this barbaric practice should be put to an end.
Bill McGlynn, Odessa
Will of the people thwarted
Despite a valiant effort by greyhound advocates in Florida, House Speaker Will Weatherford refused to bring the Greyhound Injury Reporting Bill to a House vote and the bill died in the final hours of the session. This despite the fact that the bill had passed 40-0 in the Senate.
Our system is truly broken when one man can undermine the will of the people so blatantly. The dog racing industry brings in less tax revenue to the state than it costs to regulate it, which means that Florida taxpayers like myself are left subsidizing this cruel "sport." If nothing else, we taxpayers have the right to know the extent to which these gentle dogs are being injured at the tracks.
The dog racing people and their well-paid lobbyists fought hard to prevent this bill from even being given a fair vote by our elected representatives. This should give Floridians some idea of just how outraged we would be if the bill had passed and injury records were mandated and made public.
Janet Skinner, Palm Harbor
School bus fleet overhaul is overdue May 6, editorial
Use municipal buses
Regarding the problems with the school bus system, I'd like to suggest letting high school students, 16 and up, ride HART buses instead.
HART could expand its routes based on the several thousand new customers this change would bring, and the students would get free passes paid for by the school system at a volume discount from HART. The county could then get rid of unneeded older school buses and the general public would benefit from the increase in public transportation.
Pablo Rottenberg, Temple Terrace
Dems turn to a novice | May 3
I'm painfully reminded of Will Rogers' quote: "I don't belong to any organized political party; I'm a Democrat."
Bob Williamson, St. Petersburg