The captain weighs in
I was glad to see the Tampa Bay Times report on Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute’s work and mission to prevent North Atlantic right whales from “blinking into extinction.”
As the article rightly pointed out, fewer than 400 whales remain, and North Atlantic right whales are slipping closer to extinction every year due to human causes. Collisions with vessels and entanglements in fishing gear are decimating these whales. Even a single human-caused death a year threatens this species’ chances of survival.
While the Clearwater institute gives us critical data and information on the status of the imperiled whales, it’s up to us to make sure there’s the political will to ensure their survival. Current measures are simply not enough to protect North Atlantic right whales. We must do more for these rare whales so that we don’t see the first large whale species go extinct in the Atlantic Ocean in centuries.
The government has the opportunity and responsibility to strengthen protections and prevent extinction, but they must step up, and we must demand it, before it’s too late for these majestic whales off our coast. If our leaders fail to act, and act fast, we will only have the giant inflatable North Atlantic right whale touring Tampa Bay to enjoy. While I love inflatable whales, I prefer them living and thriving off the East Coast.
Capt. Paul Watson, Founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Tune Trump out
Trump sets up website to try to keep in touch| March 31
I see where former President Donald Trump is creating his own website. I can only hope and pray that people, and especially news agencies, don’t let themselves be duped again into making news out of whatever comes out of this man’s mouth. Please don’t fall again into this sociopathic and narcissistic flurry of hate and lies. This country deserves better.
Jack Stawicki, Beverly Hills
Trump still with us
The letter writer thinks that opinion writers can’t get Donald Trump out of their heads and dwelling on his tenure in office is unproductive. First, Trump got a break when he was not indicted because he was a sitting president. Second, the damage he did while president is so far-reaching it will affect all of us for years to come. Third, naming a street or anything for this man keeps him in the present. We don’t need anything more to remind us of the tumult and loss. The work he did speaks for him.
Willie Day, Seminole
Not so fast
Getting the Facts Straight on Income Inequality | Column, March 26
The authors’ column is an outrageous distortion of the seriousness and magnitude of income inequality. The authors surely know that recent studies by professional economists use data that captures total sources of income. This should assuage the authors much-to-do-about-nothing concerns about “deficient” Census data. Yes, transfers to low-income persons do somewhat ameliorate their desperate circumstances. But such transfers cannot begin to offset the continuing skyrocketing trends of economic and social inequality.
While the top 1 percent of earners has seen more than a 200 percent rise in income over the last 40 years, the median family income has increased only 24 percent. In fact, nearly all of the gains from U.S. economic growth has accumulated in the coffers of the uber-wealthy. During these four decades, a staggering $50 trillion has been siphoned from the bottom 90 percent of earners and accumulated in coffers of the top 1 percent of earners. This amount is equivalent to 12% of our annual GDP for every year since 1975.
In terms of the average worker, if inequality had remained at the level of the post-war era of shared prosperity (1947-1975), the average worker’s yearly income would be at least $12,000 to $15,000 more than now. In reality, gains from economic growth have flowed into the ledgers of the super wealthy and then pumped into the stock market, little benefiting the wider economy. These resources should instead be invested in industries that create jobs for the 21st century. These resources should also be available to all levels of government to replace our crumbling infrastructure.
With accelerating inequality, our nation is becoming an aristocracy of plutocrats. The remedies are obvious: The wealthiest must pay their fair share of taxes; our nation needs to invest in infrastructure that creates more livable middle-class jobs; and provide health care to all citizens and world-class public education from pre-k through college.
Robert White, Valrico
Gun control sanity
Over 43,000 dead. Why don’t we act? | Column, March 29
Columnist Eugene Robinson’s diagnosis is among the finest I have read in acknowledging that sensational events are the tip or the iceberg, in plainly stating that a reasonable level of disarmament is the outcome, and in acknowledging the challenges of accomplishing that. The essay falters at prescription. Changing attitudes involuntarily has a record of failure and unintended adverse consequence. We have warred against many social ills in this fashion. Carrots are more efficacious than sticks. Social norms are better displaced than opposed. Arguably, nothing did more to advance the rights of the LGTBQ community, generally, than staking a claim on an existing majority norm, specifically marriage.
We have the template in our well accepted and effective approach to motor vehicle casualties. We register, license and require insurance. These provisions normalize the majority of drivers and aid law enforcement by marginalizing, actually criminalizing, the minority who evade them. They create a carrot by making possession of excessive numbers or types of firearms a voluntary choice between spending money on insurance premiums versus alternative uses of that income. We don’t confiscate automobiles or proscribe certain models. We don’t have to.
Pat Byrne, Largo