Individual vs. community
Florida is still learning a hard COVID lesson | Editorial, Feb. 7
Finding the balance between a highly disciplined society and a tolerant one is this nation’s greatest challenge. On the one hand, the desire to protect a free society and on the other, the need for limitations to that freedom. The issue of the common good comes into play. Individual rights as opposed to the community’s safety.
The best example of this conundrum is to understand the goal of public health that values the community’s well-being over the individual. We watched this tug of war relating to COVID-19 policies that faced pushback as requirements conflicted with individual rights. That pushback cost enormous loss of life and disability. It is true that public health professionals made their mistakes, but a greater mistake was to refuse to follow the recommendations. A misplaced sense of protecting freedoms.
We see this misplaced sense of freedom playing out in other ways. A critical factor is the loss of accountability for actions that undermine community safety. Individual rights have trumped community stability. The pendulum has literally swung far to the right, and the cost is a vulnerable society in fear of inadequate response to personal danger. A sense that civil order and law is ineffective.
The mass shootings, the insufficient funding of critical needs such as public education and human services such as health care, the increasing cost of living and lack of equity, leave us vulnerable to more community anger and unrest. The question must be asked, have the government and the courts lost touch with the needs of its citizens? Unless that question is on the table — there will be little progress to bring more stability to a very nervous, frightened public.
Marc J. Yacht, Hudson
What really happened
10 big issues in Fla. session | May 6
I have read the list of the Top 10 priorities that were part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legislative efforts. Let me see if I got it right. He’s made it more difficult for women to obtain certain medical care. Lowered taxes on certain commercial leases. Made it easier to execute Floridians. Restricted independent organizations’ ability to educate voters. Changed the law to allow him to remain governor while running for president. Made it more likely that any individual you meet on the street will be carrying a hidden gun. Greatly restricted our ability to sue an insurance company for its negligence. Made life more difficult for citizens of the state who identify as LGBTQ+. Created a way to undermine our public school system by diverting money from the public schools to private schools.
What he didn’t do is effectively address three key issues important to almost every Florida resident: out-of-control homeowners and automotive insurance and impact on infrastructure from rising sea levels.
Greg Matthews, St. Petersburg
A matter of consequences
Florida lawmakers tout ‘consequential’ session as they set up wins for DeSantis | May 5
Sure, the recent legislative session was consequential. And we’re stuck with the consequences: no meaningful fix or relief for our continued insurance woes. To say ratepayers are hurting under these crushing rates is an understatement. Maybe the governor could call a special session that actually lowers rates and improves our protections now. Then, there’s not much governing Gov. Ron DeSantis can do from the cornfields of Iowa.
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Gene Wells, Tampa
A need for competition
Amid Florida insurance crisis, lawmakers drop idea to investigate profits | April 28
My wife’s brother, for whom my wife is guardian, recently bought a new handicap van. Our insurance company would not insure it. My wife found another company that would. While she was on the phone with the agent, she put the phone on speaker so I could hear. The agent asked if we had any tickets, accidents or claims in the past five years. I said no. As the agent was verifying our information, she said, “I just got information that says you had a claim in 2019.″ I said a non-fault comprehensive claim does not count against a person’s rates. The agent stated the new rate would be $265 more for six months of coverage. We accepted it because there are few companies that will write coverage for a conversion van. As my anger rose, I called the company back and asked why our rates went up for a non-fault comprehensive claim. The agent stated that I was not being charged for a windshield repair claim, but because we were an increased risk. It is no wonder the insurance companies don’t want to open their books. Maybe Citizens Property Insurance Corp. could start writing auto coverage. Then the insurance industry might have some real competition.
Steven Barnhart, Spring Hill
Made me smile
Perspective section | May 7
Sunday’s Perspective section was a delight, a smile and a relief from the often serious and didactic media editorials and commentary delivered in print, digital and television. Sunday started right with humorous comments from varied sources and I laughed. Editorial design and content like this should come more often. It framed an excellent editorial about why the Hillsborough School Board and administration should close Just Elementary School, giving both sides of the case. At the heart of the editorial is a case for an outcome that gives Just students better opportunity to rise and succeed in the Hillsborough school system. Absolutely a section worth reading.
James Gillespie, St. Petersburg