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About stock market coverage

Market reporting crucial these days

Many thanks for the reporting that you have been providing the past several weeks. For a while, we found nothing. With today's economic situations here and around the world, we do need the kind of details you are now providing. Thank you and please continue with the reporting that you are presently giving to us.

Earl Jacob, Pinellas Park

Developed lots stay homeless | July 29

Housing situation boggles the mind

I forwarded a copy of this article to every Hernando commissioner plus the administrator to make sure they didn't miss it. This article needs to be on the front page of the Hernando Times and not tucked away only in the business section. These are mind-boggling numbers of an 11-year backlog of developed house lots in Hernando County plus a 42-year backlog in Citrus County to the north. This is based on housing starts right now, and we haven't hit bottom yet. It can only get worse.

Here we have a bunch of commissioners approving at least one additional huge subdivision this year and they had to know about how many lots are approved to build on that already exist. Many people protested additional development but were ignored. This doesn't include the thousands of existing houses sitting empty, foreclosed on or for sale right now in Hernando County.

Another good reason to replace all incumbent commissioners. This deck of cards is soiled. Deal from a new one starting this year.

Doug Adams, Spring Hill

On Helen Huntley's personal finance columns

Energy crisis calls for ideas like hers

For many years, I have followed Helen Huntley's columns and have now concluded your expertise can be utilized to help America through the greatest crisis our country has ever had to face: the energy crisis. I have watched our government and politicians debate, mess up and come up with conflicting ideas and plans to solve this. I believe the solution to this problem ought to be placed in the hands of "we the people."

World War II mobilized practically 100 percent of the population to engage the enemy, mainly through the War Bond program. We should once again muster such power to determine the proper solutions for the energy crisis. The emergency bond program ought to be headed by unbiased people with the knowledge and intellect to manage it. Sen. Barack Obama has proposed $150-billion over a 10-year period for alternative sources of energy, while his opponent, Sen. John McCain, proposes drilling.

I believe both proposals should be initiated immediately.

Arne A. Gustafson, Hudson

Real estate crisis

Wizards at banks caused problem

On the housing market fiasco, the financial wizards at the banks have caused this problem. It's been said that housing markets are regional, but this is a housing crisis that is underpinned by a financial crisis. Low- and no-doc loans and low- and no-interest loans to people living in houses worth eight times what they can afford was the first mistake.

If you apply for a mortgage today, you have to supply documents from the time you were an embryo. There better not be any kinks in your umbilical cord or you will be turned down. That policy should be a wonderful stimulus for recovery in the real estate market.

The solution would have been to make a deal with the people already in the house to pay what they could. They could have saved the foreclosure costs, the property could have been occupied and maintained, and the short payments could have been added to the end of the mortgage by extending the loan or even refinancing when the market turns around. These homeowners were forced to move and they still had to pay something to live somewhere.

After 2½ years of disastrous real estate sales, the banks are just now coming around and realizing this solution. Too little, too late, and the most disheartening thing is that they want the federal government to continue giving them our tax dollars to bail them out.

Tim Watson, New Port Richey

Housing bailout bill

Bailout doesn't help the little guy

There are three kinds of people who ended up in over their heads: 1) the naive (or just plain stupid) who should have known that if it sounds too good to be true, it is, but had help (in the form of aggressive or crooked mortgage brokers, many of whom had prior criminal histories, who led the home buyer down the primrose path, at no little profit to themselves); 2) the greedy who overstated his/her income and who was convinced he/she could afford a $500,000 house on fictitious, overinflated income figures; and 3) those risk-takers who recognized an opportunity to make a quick buck and knew how to work the system, until it backfired on them.

So who benefits from this relief act? Not the little guy, but the risk-taker who knows how to tweak the system and has the street smarts to milk it for all it's worth.

Arden Allen, Homosassa

Falling home prices

Catch words don't tell the real story

Rarely do you see the drop in the average size of homes purchased reported in housing articles. Data reveal that a significant portion of the drop in average sales price is due to buyers purchasing smaller, more affordable homes. Of course, if you account for that, then it's harder to support the drama of using catch words like "collapse" and "free fall" that today's media think is necessary to sell. It would be nice if you could simply report the facts in a straightforward manner that properly informs society of what is really happening.

Nancy Storey, Valrico

Plug & chug | July 28

Electric car hopes dashed before

Did you know that in the late 1990s there were thousands of full-sized electric cars on the road in California? They had a top speed exceeding 100 mph and more than a 200-mile range. They were leased out by GM, Toyota and others because California lawmakers got emissions legislation passed despite lobbying efforts.

After the three-year lease was over, the consumer was not allowed to buy them and they were all crushed and shredded. I hope you are not afraid of the oil companies and bring these facts to the people who read your paper.

Anthony Thomas, Palm Harbor

Insurance anger and frustration

Buddy system hurts consumers

There is no better way to say it: The majority of the public is aching for an election so they can vent their frustrations. The latest stirring of State Farm Insurance offering a 47 percent rate increase to policy holders is like a swift kick to the underbelly of the voter.

Thank goodness I will not be included in that lot. I was canceled last month by State Farm for being 1 mile inland from the water. I was informed only by calling a representative of my agent, only after inquiring about a separate matter. "Oh, by the way, you will be getting a cancellation letter from State Farm in the next couple of weeks."

Last week, I read an article that said if we wanted to clear up this insurance problem, all we need is to let private insurers charge what they want and let competition do the rest. It sounds good, but I'm afraid all the insurers are on the good buddy list and have already gotten together to price us out of the state. Another option was to let the state take over the windstorm portion of our policies and private insurers would do the rest. That also sounds reasonable, but again I fear these good buddies will change the rules and decide the other portion would need to be priced higher as well.

As much as I dislike it, the only truly reasonable solution is to have all national insurers price their products actuarially based on nationwide losses. In other words, get rid of all the smaller statewide companies that are spinoffs from corporate companies and base your prices from the parent companies' actual national losses. Florida is not going to be large enough to take all the losses by itself, and we need a way to spread all our nation's losses equally.

In the meantime, I have decided to go through all my policies from State Farm and now shop them through competition rather than pledging them to one company in the hopes of not getting canceled. Fear is a terrible thing, but once you get over it, the mailbox seems to be less threatening than it once was.

David Simpson, St. Petersburg, blogger,

'Mad Men': an HR nightmare BayLink section, July 27

'Mad Men' show tells accurate tale

I was in St. Petersburg recently and saw the article about the TV series Mad Men. The reporter seemed horrified that the women appear to accept the conditions.

I worked in the advertising/public relations world of the 1960s, and Mad Men is all too true. As one of the first women in a professional position, not only did I have to play the games, but outdo the men professionally. Which was a challenge when men were hitting on everyone in a skirt. Too many drinks and infidelity was just part of the game "required" for men to get ahead.

I watched two episodes, and started having PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) flashbacks. They are all too close to experiences I've tried to bury. It's only been in the past 15 years, when I got too old to be of interest, that men have stopped their "fraternity hazing" behavior. I guess some things are really slow to change.

At least my daughter hasn't had to deal with that world.

Jean Logan, North Miami Beach

Readers' opinions on business news 08/02/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 2, 2008 4:31am]
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