Letters to the Editor - Jan. 11


Published: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 12:24 a.m.

Cut prison budget

The state is looking to make major budget cuts in areas where they will be the most destructive.

The schools need money in order to educate and give students a chance at good, productive lives.

Cuts to programs that serve the elderly are sad, because they are now the victims of a system that they supported for so long.

The one area that is not being cut is the Department of Corrections. If they would reinstate the parole system and allow non-violent prisoners to be productive again, it would not only slow the demand for more prisons, but it would cut the cost of the ones we now have.

It would also cut the cost of housing non-violent prisoners and allow them the opportunity to work their way back into society. If the released men prove not to be worthy of parole, send them back to prison. But first give them a chance to be working citizens once again.

Our state is one of three that has more than 100,000 prisoners. Why don't we work on lowering that number? We are told that it costs about $22,000 a year for each prisoner.

Cutting education is only going to feed more people into the prison system, because without education they are more likely to turn to crime. Why not go back to 65 percent time served and then parole for non-violent offenders?

It seems to be a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Renva Brunson,

Melrose

Why we're having a nursing shortage

As a nurse educator, the Sun's front page "news" regarding a nursing shortage is an everyday fact of life, as are recruitment efforts to attract registered nurses.

These efforts may effective, but they do nothing to solve the nursing shortage.

Nurses don't appear from thin air. Nurses are educated — and not just in nursing school. Successful, critically thinking nurses have an educational foundation that begins in their elementary years. Further instruction in science, math, history, the arts, and language arts in middle and high school further prepares future nurses for success in nursing schools.

A future nurse needs to be accepted into nursing school. This has become increasingly difficult due to a shortage of nursing faculty. There are many factors related to faculty shortage, but one of the key reasons is faculty salaries.

Nursing school graduates can earn salaries exceeding that of their masters or doctorate prepared faculty within a year of graduating. Current education budget constraints make it unlikely to change faculty salaries. As a result of this faculty shortage, many nursing schools are considering decreasing enrollment.

According to the Florida Center for Nursing, "A shortage of just under 11,000 RN FTEs in 2007 is expected to grow to more than 52,000 FTEs in just 13 years, if no new actions are taken to alleviate the shortage."

The Center recommends delaying retirement of current nurses AND increasing nursing school graduates by 15 percent each year to alleviate the current shortage. Under current conditions, this suggested increase seems unlikely to occur.

Florida's current educational situation will not just affect the supply of nurses. Our future teachers, auto mechanics, physicians, etc. are all dependent upon that same educational foundation.

Unless Florida addresses these concerns, we will be creating a cycle of perpetual shortage of skilled individuals upon whom we depend on for our everyday needs.

Rita Revak-Lutz,

Gainesville

GOP pins hope on Obama's plan

What delicious irony as we witness a Republican governor and an overwhelmingly Republican legislature punt on Florida's budget crisis.

All they can think of as they mouth clichés is to cut the budget without any willingness to consider ways to enhance state tax revenues. Instead they pin their hopes on a Democratic president and a Democratic congress coming to their rescue and infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into the state budget as part of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus plan.

But, hold it. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes providing such aid to the states. Instead, he has revived Herbert Hoover's approach, whereby in 1932 the Reconstruction Finance Corporation offered to loan money to the states, which they would have to repay with interest.

So here's a modest proposal to Governor Crist, Senate President Atwater, and House Speaker Sansom. Since you are unwilling to make tough decisions in Tallahassee that might require, ouch, new taxes, perhaps you should get tough with Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and all those Republican members of the state's congressional delegation.

Twist their arms until they holler "uncle" and promise to vote for federal aid to the states to help with Medicaid and education costs.

Of course, taking such an approach would implicitly mean endorsing the Democratic recovery program and renouncing the great Republican principle that government is the problem and not part of the solution. So, I am not holding my breath in anticipation of any innovative ideas and actions coming out of Tallahassee during this special legislative session.

Hunt Davis, Jr.,

Gainesville

Pray for peace

As one who has lived and worked in the region, I have deep affection for the people of the Middle East. As a mother and grandmother, I am deeply grieved by the brutality and futility of the violence happening there now, especially the killing and maiming of children.

Launching of rockets into towns has not and will not produce justice or freedom for the Palestinians. Dropping missiles and bombs on children will not create security for Israel. The violence of dispossession, military occupation, and blockade has only increased the anger and fear and desire for revenge.

Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve justice and peace. As American citizens, we can help by supporting the active engagement of our government, and we can join people of goodwill of all faiths in praying for the peace of Jerusalem and a better future for all the children of Abraham in the land that is holy to us all.

Eve MacMaster,

Gainesville

Tilting at windmills

Howard Troxler's Jan. 7 commentary on Powerball and the Florida Lottery ("Boycott Florida's newest sucker bet") was right on target. Unfortunately, it also comes under the heading of tilting at windmills. Or spitting in the wind.

The long odds make the lottery, and now Powerball, both sucker bets. I've been making that argument since the lottery first started. And I still hear the same justification for playing the lottery now as I heard back them: "You can't win if you don't play." But with those odds, you can't win if you do play.

The Mafia figured out the odds a long time ago. When the Mafia runs a numbers racket, it's illegal. When the State of Florida runs a numbers racket, it's a lottery.

The lottery is just another tax. There's a sucker born every minute. And government has been making suckers out of taxpayers for years.

If Troxler keeps tilting at windmills, and if I keep spitting in the wind, maybe at least one of the suckers will get the message. The government won't give the suckers an even break. That's a sure bet.

Steven Mossburg,

Gainesville

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