Regarding Victor Crist’s Letter of the Day on April 12 (“Bills target ‘valuable consumer protections’ ”): Crist has a distorted view of government and government agencies. First, let me say I agree with him that we do not need bigger government, as in state interference in local affairs. But I can guarantee you that the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission does not protect consumers.
Crist advertises himself as an entrepreneur; thus, he should know that the quality of the product provided and the price are incredibly important components in all competitive markets. Crist seems to believe that in the absence of some government agency, a business will take advantage of consumers. This is not how it works. Monopolies can only exist when government rules and regulations limit competition and prevent open entry into a particular field.
An important question is how did the PTC come to exist in the first place. Were consumers begging the county commission to establish a regulatory agency because they wanted to be protected? I do not know what the workings are of the PTC, but I am darn sure that it is protecting some special interests. Crist claims that “Special interests would gain access to consumers and increased profits, at the expense of the riding public.” I say that special interests already have control through this regulatory agency called the PTC.
When prices rise in any market, with no restrictions on entry, competition will enter, forcing prices down. That is just basic free-market economics. I say stop the regulation and open up the competition. I can protect myself just like any person can protect himself from unfair prices.
I just cannot understand why politicians feel that government agencies will protect consumers. Protecting consumers in economic markets is not a legitimate function of government.
Follow the money
Regarding “Bills target ‘valuable consumer protections:’ ” What stricter standards does the Public Transportation Commission impose for the benefit of the citizens of Hillsborough County? As a citizen/taxpayer of Hillsborough, I keep hearing the PTC provides protection to consumers. What are these protections? Give me a list. All other counties in Florida provide the needed taxis/limousine services without an additional level of government regulation. Isn’t that what the Republican Party stands for, less government regulation? Does less government regulation take a back seat when the choice for more regulation means more campaign contributions?
Follow the money. Who benefits from the added level of the PTC? Is it the taxis/limousine companies that have locked out competition? Is it the consumer who is denied the benefit of market forces?
And another question to ask: Ever wonder why all the light-rail proposals never seem to include a stop at the airport? Follow the money. Who gains or loses from a light-rail station at the airport?
The writer is a Democratic candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission, District 2.
Taking care of society
The L.A. Times editorial (“Medicare’s real doctor payment problem,” Other Views, April 13) opens up a Pandora’s box of the “numbers game” regarding Medicare payments to physicians. It states that Medicare needs to “stop rewarding doctors for the quantity of care they deliver rather than the quality.”
Did the Times take the effort to research the fact that, and I quote from the Medicare Newsgroup, “In 2011, Medicare spending reached close to $554 billion, which amounted to 21 percent of the total spent on U.S. health care in that year. Of that $554 billion, Medicare spent 28 percent, or about $170 billion, on patients’ last six months of life”? In other words, it doesn’t matter what the quantity treated was; in reality, almost a third of what was spent was in treating patients who died within six months. Many patients, or families of, wanted “everything done at any cost” to keep the Medicare beneficiary alive for up to six months, quality of life notwithstanding.
And those receiving the highest payments — oncologists, the cancer-treating doctors — must also pay for the medications used to treat the patients and often do not even get reimbursed for the cost of the drugs. Treating cancer is expensive. Treating eye conditions is expensive. Treating just about anything is expensive. The common glaucoma eye drop Xalatan costs about $70 for 2.5 milliliters, or one-twelfth of an ounce. The retail cost of a gallon would run about $100,000. Diabetic, high cholesterol and high blood pressure meds can also cost over $200 per prescription.
The public has raised the bar, and also, thanks to a litigious society, doctors cannot just treat “with comfort measures” when they feel it’s appropriate, since much of society wants to be taken care of otherwise.
David Lubin, MD
Heart, soul and spirit
Steve Otto’s column about Tampa “Working to be ‘Next Great City’ ” (Metro, April 13), right next to headlines with boring words such as “intelligence” and “science FCAT,” could not have given readers a better, more truthful example of what gives Tampa its incredible energy. It’s not really the food trucks and the hip, trendy South Seminole Heights restaurants or the Tampa Theatre and great, small downtown museums (even though I love all of the above). It’s the heart, soul and spirit of the people living in this city who truly want to help others have a better life, expecting nothing in return. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has good reason to be Tampa’s cheerleader. This truly is a great city in every sense of the word. Rock on, Tampa!