We asked for your ideas to fix the economy. You sent back far more than we could print. Some of you were serious. Some of you were kidding (we think). As Congress sends President Obama a stimulus package nearing $1-trillion, you have plans of your own: Raise taxes! Slash taxes! Make China pay! Make athletes pay! Invest in bullet trains, nuclear reactors and missions to space! Or, marijuana could save us. See what you think.
Put America first
Patriotic retirement: There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force … pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations. They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings — unemployment fixed. They buy new American cars. Forty million cars ordered — auto industry fixed. They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage — housing crisis fixed.
David Otterson, Largo
CHARGE A MARKET FEE: If you go to a mall or a flea market to sell your goods, you are charged a market fee. … The best market in the world is the good old USA. The fee we charge should be the number of man hours of labor times the difference in pay between an American worker in that industry and the foreign workers' pay. No, prices will not go up, they already charge all the market will bear. … This proposal only levels the playing field. With that we win.
Bill Wallace, Tampa
MAKE STUFF OURSELVES: The only way to fix our American economy is to get back to America and American-made products and American jobs. No outsourcing of any work or any goods or services, no foreign cars or goods allowed in America. We invented cameras, radios, cars, phones, TVs, record players, lightbulbs and the list goes on and on. They should be manufactured in America and bought by Americans and sold to foreign countries who want our stuff. … Please CC the president on this one. How could we have become so clueless?
Jeannine Gallagher, Largo
DEFAULT ON U.S. DEBT: The Chinese, Japanese, Arab and European governments no longer want to buy U.S. Treasuries. … It is time to default on all those foreign trillions of outstanding debts and Treasury notes and hoarded U.S. dollars. … We should simply pay them a penny on the dollar for all those bonds and be done with it. Only Britain paid us back for World War II, no one else. We paid to rebuild our competitors in the world today. Now it's time to claim financial amnesty.
Doug Adams,Spring Hill
Get the bad guys
START IN THE CAPITAL: President Obama and his team should leak to the news media the names of everyone under consideration for appointment to any position in the administration. This would encourage those individuals, and probably some members of Congress, to pay all their unpaid taxes and fines, thus generating untold millions of dollars for our government.
Al & Liz Clinton, Hudson
LET FAT CATS FUND THE FIX: Take the money from all of the executives who "bailed out" from the big corporations with the government's bailout money and trickle it down to the people who really need it, i.e., middle America. They can even keep a very small portion. I am not greedy!
Helen Simon, New Port Richey
POLICE BUSINESSES: Install accountability into all business. A separate nonpartisan bureau could do it. … Make the CEOs tell what they did to deserve all that money. It's time for the "privileged" to come down to earth with the rest of us. P.S. Let me know where I can get a handout without a payback of some kind.
Emilie Sladek, Masaryktown
MAKE BANKS NONPROFIT: We don't want to nationalize the nation's banks — not yet, anyway. The simple way to keep greed from running the banking industry is to make the entire banking system into not-for-profit corporations or co-ops. No insane executive perks, no bonuses for nothing, strict accountability to the members — us —who put our money and our financial futures in their hands. Strict control over penalties, overdraft fees, credit cards, etc. Any profits actually earned would go to higher interest rates on deposits or lower ones on accounts due.
Kris E. Gonynor, Port Richey
BOYCOTT CORPORATIONS: Use your wallets and pocketbooks to boycott corporate America and hit them hard. Big corporations, their corrupt executives, and illegal monopolies sanctioned by previous administrations have ruined the spirit and ethics of business in this country, not to mention disrupted countless lives. Spend only at mom-and-pop small businesses, and remember that some franchise stores are owned by small-business people.
Jeff Francis, St. Petersburg
Open the cash spigot
BAIL OUT YOU AND ME: The only way out of this mess is to give every U.S. citizen 18 and older $500,000 each. (Cheaper than throwing it away to institutions that have no idea how the working class survive.) Give the money where it's needed the most, to the people!
John Balogh, Gulfport
MAKE IT A GIFT CARD: Try another rebate program, but instead of a check, it should be issued in the form of a debit card. This card could only be used to purchase consumer goods and not used for savings, investments, insurance, mortgages, etc. The total amount must be spent by a specific date or lose the balance. This would help to simulate spending, keep people working, and give government and business time to come up with better plans.
Terry Thompson, St. Petersburg
Fix the home loan crisis
SUPPORT home SALES: They should allow people to take IRA and 401(k) investments without a penalty and use it to buy real estate.
Frank Menna, Madeira Beach
RESTRUCTURE LOANS: Modify every existing mortgage (with the exception of privately held mortgages) to a 4 percent or 4.5 percent interest rate for the next three to five years. It would not require any tax dollars. It would stem the tide of foreclosures by making it affordable for many to stay in their homes.
Irv Buppert, Spring Hill
GIVE VOUCHERS FOR MORTGAGE PAYMENTS: Provide each homeowner with six coupon vouchers. Each voucher could be used in lieu of making a monthly mortgage payment. The government would then redeem the coupon-vouchers submitted by the lenders. This would not be "free money" to the homeowner, though, because each month a coupon-voucher is used, the term of the mortgage loan would be extended by an additional month. The government would have accountability for money it is actually providing to lenders, while directly benefiting the homeowner.
Paula Geer, Tampa
Invest in jobs
LET PEOPLE EARN HELP: Instead of giving people money, why not make them work for it? Don't give it to the banks. This idea worked for the Depression. Remember the CCC? … They may even be able to save some of their money and thereby help out the banking industry.
Carlos Gonzales, Oldsmar
REBUILD INFRASTRUCTURE: To get the accelerator principle moving, we should spend $1.3 trillion: $250 billion on our aging waterworks system, $800 billion on our aging bridges, dams and 1950s road system and $250 billion on "pork" to get this through Congress. To spend less is to guarantee failure.
Marvin Winston, Tampa
THINK technology: The United States should heavily invest in: a bullet train system serving all major cities in the country; a national energy plan for oil shale technology, solar and wind power; research and development; and the manned space program.
John A. Vitali, Largo
PUT HUMANS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE: Companies have moved the cost of customer service onto the customer by making them go through complex touch-tone menus with long waits. … People answering phones need some serious training on how to be helpful and welcoming. These jobs need to be created.
Kathy Wilson, St. Petersburg
Cut taxes! Raise taxes!
WHO NEEDS GOVERNMENT? The collapse caused by 95 years of too much government printing, borrowing, spending, meddling and corruption cannot be solved by more of the same. Take power and money away from the federal government and trust the free enterprise system to fix itself through individual resourcefulness.
C. Burt Linthicum, Tampa
TAX THE WEALTHY: Raise the personal exemption on income tax to $15,000. Increase the gasoline tax 25 cents. Increase taxes on the very wealthiest through a combination of a more progressive income tax, high-end luxury goods tax and progressive property tax rates. This slows down the concentration of wealth, which has reached levels unhealthy to the economy.
Chip Thomas, Tampa
CONVERT STORES TO GARDENS: Big box stores that are going under and emptying out might be the best inroad to bringing more local produce to market. What if you could convert one of these giant warehouses to a farm? A climate-controlled, semi-hydroponic environment built to produce food.
Shelbey Rosengarten, Seminole
A VERY GREEN SOLUTION: Legalizing marijuana would create jobs, bring in billions of dollars in revenue, and eliminate millions of dollars being spent to house inmates around the country. It's a new industry, an untapped resource, and it's working great for California.
Elise Hessler, Largo
GRAB SOMEONE ELSE'S PAYCHECK: Limit the millions NFL, NBA and MLB players receive for just one month and redistribute to fund much needed infrastructure work!
Rick T. Parnell, Tampa
THE NO-BRAINER: Replace Bernard Madoff and put Buddy Johnson in charge of the SEC, and I'm not talking about the Southeastern Conference. What we need now is an amateur to head it up, not a pro like Madoff. Then hire the Bolleas' attorney and make him survive on $40,000 a month. Next, we get Henry Lyons to bless them all. By the way, how much of that $5 million has he paid in restitution?
Mark Clemons, Citrus Springs
CALL P. DIDDY: I have a good idea for solving the financial crisis in America: a telethon. Broadcast on all channels, it would be a musical extravaganza featuring P. Diddy, John Mellencamp, the Hudson Brothers, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Hulk Hogan, Flavor Flav, Whitney Houston and many more cheesy celebs. Surely we should be able to raise a billion dollars or more to give to banks and insurance companies around the nation for executive bonuses and, of course, pay more bribes to our elected officials.
Jon Bessellieu St. Petersburg
MAKE IT RAIN: As a final and last resort to an economy fix, maybe the government will agree to furnish us all with machines to make our own money. Gee, we could all become millionaires. (Just kidding, of course.)
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater