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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor: Government 'takings'

Government 'takings' Christopher J. Hunter's essay in the July 21 Tribune, "The immense public value of wetlands - on private property, too," can serve as an example of an increasingly common tactic that is frustrating public discourse on virtually every topic. I'll call it "topical bait and switch." The writer makes a connection between things that are only loosely related and then advocates for one of them by criticizing the other, usually unfairly. In the case of Hunter's essay, he directs our attention to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the St. Johns River Water Management District took something of value from a landowner, a Mr. Koontz, because they ultimately denied him a permit to develop a small part of land he owns, saying it would "impact" some wetlands. Any ordinary citizen hearing the details of the case would simply find that the water management district was acting as a bully. The court decided 5-4 that the water management district overstepped its authority and made it pay Koontz for what it had cost him. The actual decision had nothing to do with wetlands; it reined in government heavy-handedness. That's the loose relationship.
Hunter uses this backdrop to launch a needless advocacy of the value of wetlands, like Floridians don't know already. His real objective ultimately was to pump up our emotional favorability toward wetlands so he could defend government regulations related to wetlands. It is here that the unfairness comes in. Hunter knows that we mere citizens think we know what a wetland is, while he, a lawyer, knows how the government defines a wetland. We are not talking about swamps, marshes, bogs and mangroves here. In truth, more than half of the land in Florida that is defined as wetlands is dry more than 90 percent of the time. I own some land that has never had standing water on it in the 11 years that I have owned it, yet it is deemed a "seasonal wetland" even though I would need to irrigate in order to farm it, which, of course, I am not allowed to do. In the Koontz case, a large part of his property was declared to be in a "riparian river habitat zone" years after he bought it. It was not discovered to be a wetland; it was made a wetland by legal contrivance. The last 60 years have been a disaster for private property rights and the rule of law. It is hard to find a more egregious example than government "takings" that result from absurd definitions of wetlands (puddles), navigable waterways (where a canoe can go once per century), and pollution (what you exhale). Hunter is not helping. Gerry Puterbaugh Seminole Longing for old days I have one of the "big" 0 birthdays this fall; I call it the twilight years. The front-page article in the July 21 Tampa Tribune ("Who will care for an aging generation?") didn't surprise anyone, I hope. I know I wasn't. This is just another stanza in the same song regarding "the next generation." Not generation X, Y or Z, but "Generation Me." It's not surprising that no "young" doctors are seeking out the speciality of caring for "their" elder generation. The doctors of yesteryear, the ones who went into medicine for the right reason - to serve their fellow man and care about and for people - are being replaced by Generation Me, who are going into medicine because of what putting "M.D." behind their names will or might bring, as well as the expectation of a lot of money in their bank accounts. These students better wake up. One day they may have to "barter" for their services and end up receiving a chicken or apple pie as payment. I find it sad and disheartening to know that medical schools don't or aren't requiring today's medical students to spend time in this area of medicine before being allowed to graduate. It's a noble area. Besides, treating the elderly would benefit the Me Generation by teaching them a few valuable lessons - one, that "getting old ain't for sissies," as the saying goes. But more than that, they would learn a lot about strength, character, humility and compassion, and that it truly is better to "give" than receive." What a sad day for us. Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. We contributed to this Me Generation and have let it quietly but steadily take over. As corny as it may sound, I long for The Judds' old country song, "Grampa, tell me 'bout the good ol days. ..." Christy L. Solomon TampaFeeling let down Regarding "A painful preview of Obamacare" (Our Views, July 21): The press is more than four years late uncovering and reporting the detrimental effect of Obamacare. Conservative talk show hosts have been spreading the word to anyone who will listen that government-run health care will destroy health care as we know it, and this country. The press let us down on this open-ended health-care fiasco. The original stated intent for Obamacare was to provide health care coverage for 30 million uninsured people. That could have been done on less than 10 pages. Instead, we find out that the IRS will now administer our health care and keep a real-time record of all our bank accounts and intrude into every other facet of our lives. The press should have been on top of this pending law when then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy." I'm sure Pelosi wouldn't buy a new house without asking the price and doing a walk-through. Would she go along with a real estate salesman telling her, "You have to write us a blank check for the house before we can let you inspect it"? I don't think so. But the press was perfectly OK with this tactic when it came to the American public accepting Obamacare. Larry Lunsford Brooksville
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