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MORE GOVERNMENT WON'T HELP HEALTH CARE

Slogans aren't solutions - Sept. 10, editorial

Your recent editorial mischaracterized my opposition to a government-run health insurance option as a "scare tactic." What's truly scary are fewer health care choices, cuts in programs for those in need and significant Medicaid enrollment increases that Florida cannot afford.

The danger of a government-run health insurance option is that it will lead to discounted premiums that private insurers cannot offer. In the long run Americans will gravitate toward the public option, and inevitably government costs will grow, too. Just as we have with Medicare, government efforts will intensify to further reduce payments to doctors and hospitals, and restrict tests, medical procedures and treatments doctors may provide.

The end result? Limits on doctors' choices, patients' choices and the care available, and the quality of health care for Floridians will be at risk.

I serve as chair of Healthy Florida Foundation and support making health care more affordable and accessible. But I will not accept any proposal that undermines quality and further reduces patient and doctor choices. That is the danger of a government-run health care insurance option.

I have voiced my opposition to the proposed $500 billion dollar-plus Medicare cuts to pay for some of these costs, and the significant Medicaid enrollment increases, as much of that cost would eventually be dumped on the states. With Medicaid already more than 25 percent of our state budget, Florida simply cannot afford this.

Leadership requires taking stances on tough issues and fighting for what you believe is right. Health care reform is critical to Florida, particularly to our more than 3 million seniors, and more government control is simply not the answer.

Bill McCollum, Florida attorney general and Republican candidate for governor, Tallahassee

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The media too often are dismissive of conservatives - Sept. 16, letter

Right-wing bias also can be found in the media

The letter writer bemoans the bias of the media without taking care to inspect the conservative media's record on this subject as well. Indeed, the letter writer feels at ease reporting that "hundreds of thousands of people showed up" at the recent conservative march in Washington, D.C. This, regardless of the fact that a certain level of fraud was perpetrated by media sources such as Fox News in the reporting of those numbers as being 10 to (as much as) 24 times the actual numbers.

Conservatives point to a picture that was of a rally over a decade earlier as proof of those numbers but cannot understand our liberal disgust at their own level of deceit in the dissemination of their fiction.

I, too, am disturbed by the polarization of the media outlet sources but I acknowledge the shortcomings of my own sources of information as well. As media outlets go, however, the St. Petersburg Times trends toward informed reporting of the facts and is well regarded for its independence.

As a University of South Florida graduate student I am keenly aware of the dangers of source-checking and independent verification - something the letter writer takes for granted. Had she engaged in this level of debate during the Bush administration we may well have been experiencing a more robust economy today. But after listening to the previous administration's admonitions of the Iraq/al-Qaida relationship, and then the WMD rant, followed quickly by the democratic exportation argument (after the first two excuses proved wildly inaccurate) the United States would probably be standing on firmer economic ground today.

Not to worry. More than 2,300 days ago President George W. Bush announced that our mission in Iraq was successful. How does the letter writer feel about that "truth"?

C. J. Gerber, St. Petersburg

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The media too often are dismissive of conservatives - Sept. 16, letter

Offer intelligent arguments

The letter writer complains that the media too often dismiss the conservative right in their articles. Her example is the headline of the positive speech in Minneapolis by the president, Thousands cheer, assail Obama plan, as opposed to the smaller headline "angry protesters march in Washington, D.C."

The writer claims she watched the march on TV and these were not angry protesters. I would challenge the writer to explain the photos of the president as Hitler, the signs calling him a Marxist, the demeaning of the U.S. flag. The fearmongering and vitriol represented by this group of less than 75,000 brought shame to those who have come before, with protests of peace and equal rights. If you want equal coverage, make an intelligent argument.

Ray Day, Spring Hill

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Tell us the full story of D.C. protest - Sept. 17, letter

Further questions

The letter writer wanted to know why the Times story on the D.C. protest never mentioned that the protest was orderly and that they picked up their own trash. Here are some other questions that could be of interest to your readers that the report did not cover:

What was the proportion of the gathering that was something other than white? Any Asian-Americans in the crowd? Latinos? African-Americans? Jews? Gays? Middle Easterners?

From where do the protesters gather their information that had them say "enough?"

How many carrying signs with the same words could actually define terms such as fascist and socialist?

What proportion of the protesters were "outraged" at the cost of the war in Iraq and the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that plunged our country's surplus left by the Clinton administration into a trillion-dollar deficit left by George W. Bush?

In a test sampling of protesters that submitted to a polygraph test, what proportion would be found to have no problem whatsoever with President Barack Obama's racial makeup?

Thomas Maciocha, Tampa

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Victim of well-paid fearmongers - Sept. 15

We're right to be wary

In response to the letter writer: Yes, we are connecting the dots. And I am not a "well-paid fearmonger." Nor am I wealthy by any means. What I do happen to be is an unemployed average American with no political agenda.

The problem with Van Jones, for me, was he was a self-admitted communist. This is America, and I feel very uncomfortable having an admitted communist so close to my president. I'm wondering why you so conveniently left that fact out of your letter?

I would think that most Americans, regardless of which political party they belong to, are also uncomfortable with a communist so high up in our government.

James J. Gordon, Hudson

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Videos put the heat on ACORN - Sept. 17, story

Needed reporting

Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for your front- page report on the ACORN scandal. I have been watching the release of the tapes on Glenn Beck and Fox News and losing faith in my local newspaper for its seemingly biased disregard.

I was planning to cancel my Times subscription this week.

For now, I'll be watching and waiting for your next front-page headlines. Please continue to investigate the corruption all around us. It is what matters most.

Sarah Faulkner, Safety Harbor

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Florida death penalty system needs reformSept. 16, commentary

Too many delays

The only problem with Florida's death penalty system is that it is not carried out as often as it should be and too many years go by between the initial sentencing and carrying it out. Having appeal after appeal after appeal is ridiculous.

A case in point is the Oscar Ray Bolin case where he was found guilty of murder - not once but numerous times - sentenced to death and he is still getting new trials. Enough already. It's time to execute him.

Cheryl Bamberger, St. Petersburg

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Support clean energy; don't sell out our state and No future in oil drilling - Sept. 15, letters

Appreciate our beaches

I hope everyone has a chance to read and understand these great letters in Tuesday's paper.

I too, have seen the dirty beaches elsewhere and came home and had a new appreciation of our beautiful Florida. We cannot let greedy people a thousand miles away destroy our paradise.

Gene Hills, Hudson

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