Americans face economic decline Many Americans have been financing lifestyles beyond their incomes for years, whether by mortgage or equity loans, credit cards, or car loans. Thrift is out of style; witness our minuscule national savings rate. Greed is the byword, as evidenced by our housing crisis. Real income has stagnated as true inflation outpaces "rising" incomes.
Most of us have enjoyed a comfortable living standard. Given the current national financial and energy crises, this is ending.
We are victims of our own success. We wanted the world to become like us: democratic and capitalist. As a result, jobs are outsourced. With a global economy, incomes tend to merge: Ours is going down while income in the less-developed countries is rising. We are in an inevitable decline.
A return to personal and national fiscal discipline will slow the decline. But we face a lower standard of living. What a legacy for our children.
Paul McCarthy, Largo Remember that we are a melting pot
Recently, I asked a good friend if he would put a local political campaign sign in his yard. He is a long-term U.S. citizen, but from another country. He said, "I would like to, but Americans still treat me as a foreigner and would not like to see me participating openly in the democratic process."
I understood what he was saying. In certain areas of the United States, particularly the Midwest and South, there continues to be an attitude that immigrants who achieve citizenship are not really citizens.
Have they forgotten their ancestry? Or did they not listen to their grandparents who told them about the discrimination they faced because they were Irish, German, Polish, Greek, French, Czech, Slovak, Russian, etc.?
Until people in all parts of this nation learn that we are a "melting pot," we are not ready to lead the world. In fact, it appears that we are rapidly losing that role due to actions of our present administration. The upcoming election results will be a deciding factor in how well we do as citizens of the world.
Will we elect ignorance and closed-mindedness, or will we move forward to become part of the world community?
John Miller, Tampa
Palin is regular folks | Sept. 19, letter
Go for extraordinary
Recently a letter writer said that the reason Sarah Palin has so much appeal and would be a good vice president is that she is "regular folks."
I agree. Sarah Palin is surely regular folks. And that is precisely the reason she is completely unqualified to be president or vice president of the United States. Today more than ever, we need a president who is extraordinary, not ordinary. Our president should be someone of well-above-average intelligence, highly educated, and able to understand all of the extremely complex issues facing the United States both at home and abroad.
President Bush is regular folks too, someone with whom people would like to share a beer. He has also been a complete disaster of a president.
If Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president because she is regular folks, then why don't we pick our next president and vice president by just pulling names out of a hat containing the names of all of the adults in the United States? We could save the trouble of all of this campaigning.
Don Macneale, St. Petersburg
Palin is regular folks | Sept. 19, letter
Issues are what matter
I have no idea where Sarah Palin buys her groceries. Do we care? Does it matter? We purchase ours at the grocery store, and consider ourselves to be "regular folks."
Where do the Obamas and McCains buy their groceries? Do we care? Does it matter?
No, what matters are the issues this country faces. Rather than bash Barack Obama for speaking in grocery stores, maybe some "regular folks" should check out the facts. Being raised by a single mom and having hardworking grandparents from middle America, plus working to help jobless steelworkers on Chicago's South Side (my husband and I drove by those empty mills often), might qualify him to know what "regular folks" are going through.
Mary Lou Kiefer, North Redington Beach
I have to wonder why there has been so little printed about the Democratic vice presidential candidate. Since the convention, I haven't seen much, if anything, about him. We know more about Todd Palin, who isn't even running for office, than we do about — dare I mention his name?
If the St. Petersburg Times truly believes in freedom of the press, then you owe it to your readers to tell us as much about the Democratic vice presidential nominee as you have about Sarah Palin.
Robert Bevilacqua, Palm Harbor
The real deregulators | Sept. 24, letter
The letter writer's memory of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act has become a little faded over the years.
All three sponsors of this bill were Republicans. During this time Sen. Phil Gramm was head of the Senate Banking Committee. The Congress was controlled by Republicans and the bill passed in both houses but only after a compromise was hammered out after the Democrats insisted on strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act and adding privacy protections. Because of the compromise, the bill was veto-proof.
Fast forward to the present. Gramm until recently acted as John McCain's top economic adviser and campaign co-chair. He is also is a lobbyist for UBS, a global Swiss investment bank.
One has to wonder what Gramm's position might be in a McCain White House.
Zena Bradley, Lithia
We've heard about denying "golden parachutes" to executives who have mismanaged a company or whose decisions have sent it into bankruptcy. Is it possible that President Bush (touted in 2000 as our "CEO president") will forgo his $191,300 annual federal pension as a symbolic gesture to atone for his abysmal performance? Don't hold your breath.
Ray Smith, Tampa
Older Americans bear the brunt Sept. 23, story
Poor rich people
Your article on the impact of the economy on older Americans rang true in a lot of ways. I too am retired and have seen my investments shrink. My wife and I have also cut back in many ways.
However, I find it difficult to have any sympathy for Robert Waskover, who is pictured standing on his expensive paver driveway in front of his Mercedes and a second car.
I've never owned a Mercedes and probably never will. And we gave up our second car years ago. That said, my wife and I are still living a very comfortable life here in Florida. I don't pity the poor rich people. Let them live within their means as we do.
Barry Kreiling, Brooksville
Florida's autumn rustles in palms Sept. 22
A season's solace
What a treat to open Monday's paper and find Jeff Klinkenberg's uplifting story about all the great things we Floridians can look forward to in fall and winter.
With all the gloom and doom that is so prominent in all the media right now, I sincerely thank you for starting my day off with such a cheerful story on Page 1B.
Pat Baldwin, St. Petersburg