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Will voters really remember the Legislature's performance

Yee-hah! Floriduh is open for bidness | April 30, Howard Troxler column

Will voters really remember?

Howard Troxler added his voice to the readers and editorialists who have called out to remember current outrages committed by the Legislature when the next Election Day rolls around.

If this is no more than a cognitive burp, or a thought reflex, what a waste of time and space. But let us take it seriously, for this is not the first time we have been called on to remember.

I, for one, remember the most recent election, and the one before that, and several earlier ones as well. We continue to send people up to the Legislature (sometimes newbies, sometimes incumbents) with the expectation that this time, we'll have a better outcome. But we are always disappointed, and in our frustration we wail, "I'll remember this on Election Day."

But it matters not. Whether they are new or old, the members behave as members always do. They do not feel themselves beholden to Floridians in the large sense of the term. They cater to those whom they see as able to further their personal and political interests. When this is pointed out as improper, they toss aside the observation with a snide, "Well you just don't know how the system works."

It is clear to us all who "remember" that if this is how the system works, and it doesn't really matter who we send up there, then we need to change the system.

For me and my generation, "Remember Pearl Harbor" was not a whine — it was a call to action. If "Remember them on Election Day" is to be more than a whine, then we must have a call for a constitutional revision or an equivalent, whereby we can civilly change the system.

More Pulitzer Prizes await the editorial writers who see this cutting edge issue. Circulation will increase for the newspaper that fronts this issue.

Ben Franklin and Tom Paine will begin to rest easier.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

The increasingly violent failure of the war on drugs | April 26, commentary

It's no time to give in on opposing drugs

Mike Gray has made an insufficient case of proving the so-called war on drugs a failure. In order to assess international drug laws, he needs to be realistic. If we made all currently illegal drugs legal, it would obviously pose a far greater risk than alcohol or even tobacco. Drug use would skyrocket. For instance, currently there are 127 million users of alcohol but only 20 million users of all illegal drugs. No one denies that this number would increase if drugs were made readily available by making them legal and socially acceptable.

If winning the war on drugs means ridding the world of cartels, perhaps we cannot win this so-called war. However, if winning means decreasing the violence associated with drug crimes, then we are winning already. Only 5 percent of all murders are committed because of drug trafficking and manufacturing, whereas approximately 25 percent are committed because the murderer was under the influence of drugs. The cartels will continue to exist and actively pursue drugs, weapons and human trafficking regardless of the legal status of drugs.

Gray and his organization have their own nefarious agenda to legalize drugs. Taxing and legalizing marijuana would be surrender with devastating long-term effects. We would be giving up on addicts and profiting off addiction. Haven't we seen the horrific consequences of using alcohol and tobacco products? How have these dangerous, legalized substances helped our economy or our lives?

The prodrug lobby first tried to use compassion to legalize marijuana as a so-called medicine, a Trojan horse for legalizing the drug itself. Now they say let's just tax it and legalize it. Could the answer to all of our problems be as simple as that? Remember, H.L. Mencken said, "For every complex problem there is a solution that is neat, simple and wrong!"

Calvina Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg

The increasingly violent failure of the war on drugs | April 26, commentary

Pull back from failed efforts

As a recently retired prevention (drugs, alcohol and violence) specialist, I read with interest Mike Gray's commentary regarding the failure of the war on drugs. After years of watching the abysmal performance of our government's attempt to curb this huge industry, I could not agree more with Gray that what is needed is an entirely new approach.

Although I would have a very hard time supporting legalization and regulation of all drugs, the marijuana industry is another story. Our failed efforts at eradicating the illegal use of this drug could be turned around with its legalization, regulation and taxation. The financial bounty would be huge. Violence would decrease (as it did after Prohibition was repealed) and the prison population, an enormous expense to our society, would be greatly lessened as an entire classification of crime is eliminated. The limited resources of law enforcement could be dedicated to efforts that stand some chance of making a real difference.

Marijuana is not a harmless drug. It damages lives just as alcohol and tobacco do. Our current fight, however, is not effective. By far the most effective campaign to lessen the use of a particular drug in this country has been that of the antitobacco activists. The same could be done with marijuana (as well as other drugs), but it takes money — lots of money — and some of the taxes raised from a changed policy could and should be used to bolster strong prevention education programs and public awareness. We urgently need to change tactics.

Louise Bearss, Tampa

Pundits fuel crackpots with ammo | May 1, Daniel Ruth column

Extreme accusations

Not everyone who watches Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or any other reasonable broadcast is a "foaming-at-the-mouth" nutcase. To make such accusations is not worthy of any responsible commentator. However, I realize after reading a couple of Ruth's articles that he is far from reasonable.

Many Americans do not like the rhetoric coming from the White House. We were at one time a republic, we are now darting toward becoming a nanny state where any stupid idea is okay as long as some bureaucrat comes up with a bogus excuse to enact it. Saying that guns kill is like saying that cars kill so let's abolish them.

And please don't use that stupid phrase that "all we want is to regulate them." We know that's not true. Regulation is always the first step toward confiscation. Give it a break and leave the majority of Americans alone.

Allan Walker, Weeki Wachee

We don't need a witch hunt | May 1, letter

Partisan hunting of the past

The letter writer states that "we have enough problems without conducting some partisan witch hunt. … It's best to let sleeping dogs lie."

"Lie" is the operative word here. Does the writer remember the last eight years or how the right went after Bill Clinton for lying about sex? Everyone lies about sex. I guess it is okay to lie when it comes to the big stuff like torture and illegal wars where the lives of our youth are being sacrificed. The writer needs a reality check!

Donna McGill, St. Pete Beach

Will voters really remember the Legislature's performance 05/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 3, 2009 11:40pm]
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