1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: Politics clouds health care reforms

Published Nov. 8, 2013

Obamacare in cross hairs | Nov. 4

Politics clouding reforms

There is little doubt that pundits on both sides of the Obamacare debate have been misleading Americans, but the goal of health care reform should be to improve an inadequate health care system, not to worry about who may get credit in the end.

President Barack Obama deserves criticism for repeatedly proclaiming, "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan." However, he may have not anticipated the extent of recalcitrance within the insurance sector and from some Americans upon implementation of the new law.

Republican politicians have looked foolish touting some of these previously substandard, now-prohibited health insurance policies that did little except give policyholders a false sense of security. In addition, the GOP gleefully bashes the Obamacare website that is struggling in a way reminiscent of the rollout of Medicare Part D in 2006. At that time, Republicans appealed for patience and bipartisanship.

George Howlett, Tampa

One for the books

Here's a new Word of the Day: Obamanate, transitive verb: lying about a lie.

Regarding Obamacare, is President Barack Obama misleading, misspeaking, lying, or is he just Obamanating? As Hillary Clinton would say, "What difference does it make?"

Richard Kwiecienski, Homosassa

Schools prepare for new online grade-book system | Sept. 3

Web system falls short

In April a decision was announced that Hillsborough County was going to replace its functional electronic grading system, Edline, for a similar offering, Edsby. Instead of the tightly integrated product that was promised, we received a product that is little more than an advertisement for student events with limited functionality.

In the announcement for Edsby's selection, Gregory Hart, the manager of Web communication for Hillsborough County schools, commented, "We know that having students and their families more engaged with student progress and achievement is vital step in improving student outcomes."

But Edsby does not even provide a child's current grades. If schools want parents engaged, then provide the tools for them to be. Recognize that the salesperson must have been great but the product is not and return to the proven path with Edline.

Gregory Chesney, Tampa

Seniors' quality of life

The importance of home

Financially savvy people are aware that sometimes an amount spent now can result in a savings later. This is important to realize in order to advise citizens and our local, state and national elected officials to recognize the wisdom of funding and maintaining services that allow senior citizens, some with limited abilities, to remain in their homes.

This can be achieved at facilities outside the home such as adult care centers that provide opportunities for physical, mental and social interaction. Sadly, the alternative to these options is often placement in a nursing home at a greater financial expenditure. Please encourage fellow voters and your lawmakers to support measures to enhance the quality of life for our seniors.

Jeanne Cohen, Tampa

Billionaires in land of cuddly capitalism Nov. 6

Taxing choices

I spent three years at our embassy in Helsinki, Finland, where I had ample opportunity to study, analyze and report on Finland's economy as well as the other Nordic countries.

One item I had to understand and explain was their tax system. I was surprised to find that in those egalitarian societies they did not have inheritance taxes, thus the way to gain wealth was to do so within the family.

Matthew Yglesias points out that Sweden has no inheritance tax or residential property taxes, a flat tax on investment income, and a lower corporate income tax than the United States, but the government accounts for over half of the total economy. Thus taxes fall more heavily on income and consumption and thus the middle class, instead of the wealthy, i.e., the "1 percent." Perhaps there is a lesson here for President Barack Obama.

Leo Cecchini, Fort Myers Beach

Dangers of a nation full of informants | Nov. 4

Government accountability

It is surprising that the Times chose to publish this essay by Michael Chertoff.

The two people Chertoff focuses on are government people, one former and one current. That one is a business partner of Chertoff, the former secretary of Homeland Security, makes the essay self-serving by definition.

That the other is a person who is supposed to enforce laws but was caught in the midst of young lawbreakers totally weakens the argument that Chertoff makes.

He tries to raise the specter of Nazi Germany in claiming that we have too many citizen journalists and eavesdroppers. Of course it is totally a reverse of Nazi Germany: There the government was spying on everybody and encouraged citizens to turn in their neighbors to the police. Here we have citizens catching current or past government employees being lazy, careless or ignoring the very laws they are supposed to enforce.

For Chertoff, who has lived off the taxpayer dime and now consults with government — more taxpayer money — to argue that the citizens cannot watch and report on government employees is worse than conflict of interest. It amounts to: "We can spy on you, but you cannot look at us. And please hand over your wallet."

Citizens have an obligation to watch and study and investigate the government we elect and pay taxes to operate. Chertoff should be more worried about the mammoth increase in spying on private citizens that exploded during his tenure with Homeland Security.

Robert P. Curran, Beverly Hills

Christie wins in N.J. | Nov. 6

Lesson for tea party

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won big time. I knew he would because he's bipartisan big time. The hugging and respect he showed for President Barack Obama during the Sandy crisis made the people love him. He wasn't too proud to ask for help from a Democrat. The tea party had better listen up. Christie proved he has a different kind of leadership, which is in the direction of decency and not of hatred.

Ruth J. Anderson, Homosassa

The last voyage of the 'Bounty' | Nov. 3

Detailed and poignant

Your series on the sinking of the Bounty by Michael Kruse, with illustrations by Don Morris, deserves Pulitzer Prize recognition. I say this as a retired, experienced seagoing officer of the Coast Guard.

I found Kruse's articles to be impressively accurate in dealing with the technical details of seamanship, weather conditions, rescue procedures, Coast Guard equipment, etc. Additionally, in his presentation of the human aspects of the Bounty disaster, I found Kruse's writing to be poignant and, at times, heart-wrenching.

His research and interviews with survivors, family members, rescuers and others involved made fascinating reading for me. Overall, the three articles were masterfully tied together to present a fascinating story. Our country should be proud of the talented Coast Guard men and women who risked their lives to rescue the 14 fortunate survivors.

Rear Adm. Bill Schwob, USCG (Ret.), Clearwater