Young stands up for environment
In this era of hyperpartisanship, it is rare to see a politician put the people's interest ahead of powerful lobbyists and political donors. One notable exception: U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. In recent months, there have been repeated attempts by the biggest polluters to gut the laws protecting our state's beaches, lakes, rivers and streams. On several occasions, Young has stood up against these misguided attempts to allow polluters to dump sewage, cow manure and pesticides into our waterways.
On Everglades restoration, he recently shepherded to passage legislation that will complete the final phase of bridging along a 5 1/2-mile stretch of Tamiami Trail that prevents freshwater from flowing into the parched Everglades National Park. By elevating the road, this critical restoration project will remove a man-made dam, restoring the natural water flow into one of our greatest national parks. This much-needed water will replenish the fisheries of Florida Bay and the Keys, providing significant benefits to our state's multibillion-dollar boating, recreational and commercial fishing industries.
Young's leadership will help protect the hundreds of thousands of Florida jobs that depend on clean waterways, pristine beaches and a vibrant and healthy Everglades. Furthermore, he understands the Everglades provides the daily supply of fresh water for one in three Floridians.
While many others in our state's congressional delegation sided with the polluters, Young chose to protect our quality of life. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Kirk Fordham, CEO, Everglades Foundation, Palmetto Bay
Unite and compromise
"United we stand; divided we fall" is a phrase that has been used often in American history. In a nation divided by our political differences, it requires compromise to unite us. It has never been more apparent than during these debt ceiling negotiations that if our lawmakers refuse to compromise, our nation will fall, if only in our credit rating.
When President Barack Obama says to both his own party and the Republicans that both sides need to sacrifice their sacred cows, and then makes Medicare/Medicaid concessions, he's not the one refusing to budge.
Heidi Halsworth, Tampa
Am I the only person who finds it reprehensible that an unelected man by the name of Grover Norquist is the most powerful person in America with respect to the debate on raising the debt ceiling?
This individual has persuaded Republicans in the House and Senate to sign a "pledge" not to raise taxes, and the signatories are all afraid to entertain any way forward to match revenues with spending cuts.
Shame on the politicians for allowing this man to strike fear into those worried they may not get their Social Security checks if America defaults.
Randi N. West, Inverness
The facts are evident and simple. The U.S. government spends $3.5 trillion, with net of receipts of $2.2 trillion, for a $1.3 trillion deficit. We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.
Most everyone agrees we must cut back, but nobody agrees how. What if, to be fair, someone were to propose cutting everything 10 percent across the board with no additional spending or taxes until the gross domestic product gains 3 percent for eight consecutive quarters? Liberals would not like it because it hits entitlement programs and does not add taxes. Conservatives will not go for it because it does nothing toward reducing the debt. It would, however, balance the budget in four years.
Politicians' attempts to marginalize their opponents are marginalizing America. Are we about to become another Greece?
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Famine declared in Somalia | July 21
After the aid, what?
Despite American military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, both may yet become "failed states" and each has spawned considerable corruption. Now comes Somalia, already a failed state, with estimates that more than 90 percent of aid is stolen and horrific media news and images of famine, death and human degradation. Refugees stream to Kenya and Ethiopia, both poor countries. The United Nations appeals for millions in humanitarian aid, and private groups are excluded by Islamic extremists and other militias.
The humanitarian case is easy to make, but what will actually happen if aid arrives? Will aid ever be enough; will Somalia ever be a nation-state? Good people, governments and agencies feel compelled to help before looking at the deeper long-term picture. I don't know the answers, but America also has undernourished children and adults and organizations asking for money and food. Simple humanitarian relief often should be preceded by a longer-term view of expectations.
James Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Embattled teacher decides to move on July 21
Teachers lose power
Maria Raysses-Whipple's notion about the degradation of the teaching profession in our public schools is unfortunately true. At age 65 I am old enough to contrast the excellent schools we had in the 1950s with the sad state of our schools today. The primary difference between then and now is that there has been an enormous transfer of power away from teachers, giving it to students who don't know what to do with it. Our classrooms are virtually at the mercy of any student who wants to use disruptive behavior to destroy the classroom atmosphere.
I suggest providing as many alternatives to the public schools as possible. Children need to go to schools where learning, not disruption, is supreme.
Michael M. James, Dunedin
Lisa Benson cartoon | July 23
The editorial cartoon by Lisa Benson depicting poor old Mr. Businessman barely keeping himself from being caught in a trap labeled "Obamanomics" as a young job seeker looks on has one important glaring omission: a huge pile of money. That horde of cash keeps Mr. Businessman high above any kind of "trap" while the rest of us suffer.
Fred Kann, Sun City Center