Goodwill toward sweatshops | Dec. 2, Robyn Blumner column
Climbing up the economic ladder
This is not an exoneration of the negligence or perfidy that culminated in the death of over 100 workers in a Bangladeshi garment factory. However, as we sort out blame and prescribe reform, let us not forget that over a thousand living workers, and their families, are going hungry.
I have been to Greenville, S.C., where they now make cars. I have been to Mumbai, India, where they now produce electronics. Both bootstrapped up the economic ladder after starting in the "rag trade."
In the 1990s, more than half of the population of Bangladesh lived below subsistence. Millions died. Over the period since, Bangladesh has tripled its market share of international garment manufacturing and, not at all coincidentally, the poverty rate has declined by over 1 percent per year. Millions more live. I urge caution before summoning the regulatory and union cavalry.
J.P. Byrne, Largo
We should make marijuana legal Dec. 2, commentary
Facts will turn the tide
Marijuana prohibition is the most wasteful, destructive social policy since the Jim Crow laws of the Deep South. I don't know what it will take to reach the tipping point toward legal cannabis, but data is accumulating that may help.
Researchers at universities in Colorado, Oregon and Montana have studied the 17 states that enacted medical marijuana laws between 1990 and 2010. They found that the law was accompanied by significant decreases in traffic fatalities, with strong indications connecting this to decreases in alcohol consumption.
These researchers also plan to look at crime rates. Does anyone believe legal cannabis will be found to be associated with more domestic violence, barroom fights, turf battles and murders? Not I.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
What's next? Cocaine?
When enough states legalize marijuana, the federal government will probably do the same. This will lead to many more people using it because they didn't want to break the law.
I predict that after federal law allows the recreational use of marijuana, the drug activists will begin campaigning for the legalization of cocaine. The arguments for legal marijuana will also apply to cocaine.
It seems that America is heading down the path of moral degradation.
William Armstrong, St. Petersburg
Prohibition drives crime
If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize violent drug cartels, prohibition is a success. The drug war distorts supply and demand so that big money grows on little trees.
If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to deter use, prohibition is a failure. The United States has double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal. The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis has no basis in science.
It's time to stop the arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.
Robert Sharpe, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington
Save Florida's springs | Dec. 2, editorial
I enjoyed Craig Pittman's articles on our springs, and your editorial made me think. The population growth in Florida from 1970 to 1990 was 91 percent, and in Marion County, where many of these springs are located, it was 188 percent.
It seems that a lot of the deterioration of our springs is attributable to the increasing demand for water created by population growth and the associated development required to support this growth.
It also seems obvious that this is a cost associated with choices we have made. Our state has pushed growth for a long as I can remember. I guess we never thought about the consequences. I hope it is not too late for us to take action to restore these vital assets.
H.T. Culbreth, St. Petersburg
Winning on and off the field Dec. 2, Bill Maxwell column
Put education first
I've never been a fan of Bill Maxwell, but his column on Notre Dame made me very proud of him. Every university should put education first. The percentage of student-athletes who can make a career in professional sports is very low. Congratulations on an excellent article.
Charles Farrell, St. Petersburg
A birthday few like Riley reach | Dec. 4
Err on the side of grace
Thank you for the update on Riley Joy Allen. I am struck by so many things in Riley's story, but one thing stands out: "Addie wants Riley dedicated in her grandmother's church. But the pastor won't do it for unmarried parents."
I've been a Christian all my life, and a "professional Christian" for nearly 25 years. It's amazing how we do all we can to thwart God's grace when God's grace is called for most. While my denomination does not dedicate, we do baptize infants. And I would baptize Riley in a heartbeat. Because it's about her, about God's blessing on her life, about how God loves her before she can even or ever realize it. Different churches can argue any number of points I've just made. I would choose to err on the side of grace.
God bless Addie, Ryan and Riley. A Christmas story in the making.
Rev. Laurie Wirth Palmer, Riverview
Sex-disorder victim kills herself | Dec. 5
Courage and compassion
It is sad that Gretchen Molannen was not able to experience the compassion that resulted from her sharing her story. When someone is that far down the road to suicide it is difficult to turn matters around. It took courage for her to be interviewed and photographed. It took courage for the Times to publish on such an uncomfortable topic. Her sharing cannot help her now, but it will help others in the future. Gretchen, thank you and God bless.
Rich Brown, Tampa