1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: Personal choices cause pay differences

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Published Apr. 11, 2014

In talking about the wage gap between men and women, President Barack Obama seeks once again to divide Americans against each other using inaccurate information.

The so-called gap is based on calculations by the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet when the bureau compiles those calculations, it makes no distinction between professions, lumping them all together. In the list of the 10 most remunerative college majors, men outnumber women in nine of the 10 categories. By contrast, the 10 least remunerative majors are dominated by women in nine out of 10 categories.

A Pew Research Center survey notes that while a nearly equal percentage of mothers and fathers say they'd rather be at home raising their children than working, fathers are far more likely than mothers to say they want full-time jobs.

Women are far more likely to be employed in "caring professions," while men opt for "people-free zones." But likely the most critical factor of all in this is omitted: Selecting a college major is a freely made, personal choice. The National Organization for Women, while conceding that much of the pay gap is driven by personal choice, laughably insists that powerful "sexist stereotypes" steer women and men toward different education, training and career paths and family roles.

Really? In 2011, medical school graduates were nearly equally split between men and women. NOW still pushes the fairy tale that there is not an iota of difference between men and women and the parts they play in culture and society, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The real agenda being pursued by Obama and company is the one they have always pursued: winning elections by any means necessary. And if that takes riling up a feminist base already duped into believing the Democrats' fabricated war-on-women agenda with another "lie repeated ad nauseum," so be it.

Jim Connolly, Tampa

Pushing a bill for whom? | April 3

Better access to records

This article about SB 1648, an open government bill that is a priority of Senate President Don Gaetz, missed the much larger point of the legislation: The measure includes some of the most important reforms to Florida's public records law in 20 years.

The story said Gaetz's son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, an attorney who litigates open government violations, would benefit if the bill becomes law. He could — but so will every other attorney who litigates and wins such cases. The biggest benefit, however, is to Floridians seeking access to government records and meetings.

There are no enforcement mechanisms in our open government laws, so those whose rights have been violated must go to court to force compliance. The litigation is complicated and costly, and many attorneys are reluctant to take such cases. Current law allows attorneys who successfully litigate these cases to recoup reasonable fees; SB 1648 expands the fee provision to allow attorneys to recoup fees for the time spent negotiating the fees to which they are entitled. Open government attorneys will profit, but so will the people those attorneys represent.

As the article noted, there are many other good provisions in SB 1648: It reduces fees for public records, requires public records training for agency employees, and says that, as a rule, those who request public records can't be forced to put their requests in writing. These are small but important steps.

Senate staff drafted SB 1648, which I was asked to review before the start of the session. We've worked with staff and government representatives to make sure the legislation is balanced, improving access laws without unduly burdening government. I think we've achieved that goal and I hope that the House will follow the Senate's lead and pass this bill out as expeditiously as possible.

Barbara A. Petersen, president, Florida's First Amendment Foundation, Tallahassee

Solar power

Use carrots and sticks

I would love nothing more than to put solar panels on my roof. Like the majority of Floridians, I suspect, I would vote in support of any amendment that I think encourages renewable energy usage fairly. It does not take a degree in political science to understand that solar in Florida is being limited by electric utility lobbying.

A second method of encouraging solar and renewable energy that I support, besides tax breaks, is by putting limits on the amount of pollution that the electric utility plants are allowed to release. Florida's Legislature is clearly getting us nowhere on this front. I urge the federal government to move us toward clean energy and a sustainable future by limiting pollution from existing power plants.

Danny Fry, Gainesville

Policy flip on senior benefit | April 8

Another policy deception

First, President Barack Obama repeatedly lied about "If you like your coverage, you can keep it, period" to get re-elected because he knew that it would not be popular with voters if the truth were known. Now he is delaying yet another provision of the train wreck known as Obamacare, the cut to Medicare Advantage, until after the election in 2014. He knows this cut would hurt seniors and likely some Democrats up for re-election, so he takes it upon himself to change the law.

This was part of the $700 billion in savings from Medicare to help offset the huge cost of Obamacare. Where will the money come from now? If voters don't see through this latest sham, they deserve to have all of the liberals who foisted this travesty on us back in Congress.

John Haugen, Gulfport

VA hospital turns away inspectors | April 9

Governor, just do your job

When is Gov. Rick Scott going to realize that federal facilities are not subject to inspections by the state of Florida? This attempt to inspect a VA facility would be comparable to the state of Florida entering MacDill Air Force Base to inspect the Special Operations Command or performing maintenance inspections on the F-16s based at Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle.

Unfortunately, this appears to be an opportunistic strategy by the governor to gain support from veterans in Scott's campaign for re-election. Hopefully, the governor and his advisers will be more selective in the future and target state facilities and not federal ones.

Ron Frankel, St. Petersburg

Gandy Causeway

Overflowing trash

Driving across the Gandy early Monday to Tampa International Airport, I saw enormous amounts of trash from the weekend stacked everywhere, and nowhere in particular. It was in the trees, on the dirt road, blowing across the highway, in the water, and overflowing around the two trash cans that I saw that were provided.

That stretch of beach (if you call it that) must have been filled with hundreds of people over the weekend judging from the amount of garbage. There was an attempt to place it in the trash cans, but I only saw two. I think 30 and a few dumpsters would be more appropriate. A clean Tampa Bay depends on it.

Cindy McClure, Cortez

Offer deals for seniors | April 9, letter

Rays are a bargain

Like the writer, I too am retired, but I have a much different cost experience.

I bought the 22-game "Matinee" package (mostly afternoon games) for $380 with great seats overlooking home plate in the third level. I go with a friend and we share the $10 parking cost two blocks from stadium. We bring our own chips and peanuts and usually share a supermarket Cuban. I indulge in one beer at $9 and my average cost per game is $32.

Rays games are a bargain.

David Meyer, Bushnell

Add transportation options

I agree that the Rays should offer a discount to seniors. Many retirees live on limited incomes and can't afford to pay regular ticket prices. The Rays wouldn't have to offer the discount to every home game, but certainly should for midweek day games, of which there are quite a few on the schedule.

In addition, I don't understand why there is not more public transportation in the area. It is virtually impossible to travel between Tampa and St. Petersburg for an evening or weekend one-day trip.

Obviously, the Rays couldn't offer the service, but why the city governments or local Chamber of Commerce haven't got this going is hard to understand. Maybe someday someone here will see the light.

Christopher J. Winters, St. Petersburg

Corporate profits high, but workers' cut is low | April 9

The party of profits

A close study of this article and graphs would appear to indicate that having a Democratic administration in Washington is significantly more advantageous to aftertax corporate profits than having one of the party opposite. Who would have thought that the common assumption that the GOP is more corporate-friendly could not be further from the truth?

Since business interests have been pushing for a reduction in the present top corporate tax rate of 35 percent, Congress and the president should give them what they ask for and lower the rate to 20 percent and eliminate all deductions, credits and preferences. Of course the lawyers, lobbyists and bean-counters will howl, but perhaps the workers' compensation will improve.

James Donelon, St. Petersburg