The Federal Reserve: hero to goat? | Nov. 15, David Ignatius column
Federal Reserve needs scrutiny
The Federal Reserve, far from ever being a hero, deserves the scrutiny it is getting today. The truth is, Chairman Ben Bernanke saw neither the housing crash nor the banking crisis coming. If the Fed had fulfilled its role as a regulator, it would have noticed the gaping holes on the balance sheets of our banks.
Instead, either through incompetence or a desire to further enrich the bankers that make up their boards, they allowed the crisis to happen and then conveniently rode in on the supposedly "white horse" of "innovative" policies that have fleeced the taxpayers of trillions of dollars, devalued those dollars that remain in their hands, and actually done little to unfreeze credit markets.
Instead, the Fed's trillions sit in the banks' vaults as they wait out the crisis comfortably and the rest of the country bleeds jobs. The worst part is, we have no way of knowing exactly where our money went and whom it is benefiting.
People like Ignatius editorialize to scare the public into thinking that efforts to scrutinize the Fed, like H.R. 1207, a bill which would audit the Fed and hold it accountable to the people whose money it uses and abuses, are really efforts by Congress to control monetary policy, when this is just not the case.
The people deserve to know what the Fed has done with their money, and its strenuous efforts to keep its books closed shows that it must have something to hide. Call your congressman and senator and let them know you want the Fed audited and held accountable.
Matt Tucker, Clearwater
Guilty of sex crimes, man is free | Nov. 14, story
Offender is not 'free'
The headline and positioning of this story give the impression that a sex offender has been turned loose in the community to do as he pleases.
He is not "free."
The defendant in this case is still in the criminal justice system, and if he is not successful with his appeal, he will serve a 10-year sentence, followed by five years of sexual offender probation. That sentence was imposed by the same judge who heard the successful motion for bond.
Near the end of the story, the reporter explained the rarity of such cases, the nuances and the legal arguments on which the judge based his decision.
But before the reader could get that far, the perception had already been manufactured by a headline and story play that created a completely erroneous impression.
Ron Stuart, public information officer, 6th Judicial Circuit, Clearwater
Vets' widows lose benefit by staying single Nov. 15, story
Widows deserve payments
Thank you to William Levesque for this article.
I am a Gold Star Wife. My husband put in 32½ years in the Army, and when he was medically retired he took the Survivor Benefit Plan out for me in hopes that this would make my living standard a little more comfortable.
He is probably rolling over in his grave knowing that the government has not held up its promise.
My husband gave his country all that he had, and if he were alive the money that the military would be paying him in his monthly check would be a lot more than the measly check I get now — even if the SBP offset was restored — so the argument that there isn't enough money doesn't hold up.
We widows want our money and I think the government needs to pay up.
Rose Stolarcek, Dover
Many more rely on free school lunches Nov. 12, story
Make free food healthful
Federal money spent on low-income families to provide children with free lunch and breakfast is a great way to spend tax money, and I don't mind my taxes going to such a cause.
The amazing and bewildering fact is that too many of America's youngsters are unfit for the military because of obesity and other health issues connected to poor eating habits.
If kids are going to eat at taxpayers' expense, why in the world would you feed them chili dogs and pizza? Maybe we could kill two birds with one stone.
Brian Cunningham, Largo
Back from war, out of work | Nov. 11, story
UT offers help for vets
The University of Tampa community appreciated the story regarding Pfc. Casey Hengstebeck and thanks him for his service.
UT, which has a long history of educating veterans and ROTC cadets, and was recently named a military-friendly university, knows that veterans make great students because of their high level of motivation, resourcefulness and dependability.
Like many universities, UT is providing higher education to veterans of all kinds with the help of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Prospective students who served at least three years on active duty after Sept. 11, 2001, can earn benefits for tuition, fees, books and housing. With the Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program, many veterans are going to school with no out-of-pocket costs.
We talk to veterans every day and help them claim their GI Bill benefits so they can start college immediately.
We urge Pfc. Hengstebeck and other veterans to consider higher education in their career plans. Not since World War II has there been more comprehensive funding to send veterans back to school, and we believe veterans could bolster the professional ranks of the new U.S. economy.
Margaret Flint, VA certifying official, University of Tampa
Walking to work in a city built for cars Nov. 14, Sue Carlton column
A missing downtown
Sue Carlton waxes poetic about her walk to downtown. I hope she wasn't wearing high heels.
I maintain that in most Florida cities there is no downtown. When I first came to Florida in the early '70s, on a temporary work assignment, I went past downtown Lakeland until I was out of the city and decided to ask a man where downtown Lakeland was. He told me, "You just passed it."
Which leads to the subject of rapid transit development and construction being considered for Central Florida. I ask, Why? After a person travels, say, from Orlando to Tampa, then what? What will he/she do there without a car or other means of transportation?
Of all the great cities I have visited or lived in in the United States or overseas — New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, London, etc. — two things stand out. First, the downtown area contains great points of interest that one can easily reach on foot. Second, these downtowns possess superb modes of transportation where one can go from point A to point B without much delay and at reasonable cost. Sad to say, but Florida cities fail on both counts.
Humberto A. Calderon, Tampa
They call it reform, but it's hardly that Nov. 16, Robert Samuelson column
Look to the military for cuts
I am amazed that Robert Samuelson ignores the true driver of our national debt. Medicare and Social Security have been in the black for over 20 years. What has not is the military. Military spending takes up 41 percent of the budget.
Especially since Ronald Reagan began his tax cuts, we have not paid for the military we say we want. It is way past time to start facing reality about our military costs. We need to raise taxes to support our military or make large cuts in the military budget.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Consider the source
Several columnists in the last few days have quoted the Lewin Group as proof of their contention that health care reform would be bad for the country. None of them have chosen to let the reading public know that the Lewin Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of United HealthCare.
When quoting so-called "facts," attribution would be nice.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
Rep. Young's mail town hall meeting
Young is part of the problem
I got one of Rep. C.W. Bill Young's surveys and I found the space to remind him that his strict Republican Party-line votes under eight presidents are the problem. Young's voting record in part created today's $11.9 trillion national debt. One way to prevent his projected more than $9 trillion increase would be for him to resign from office.
Janice Josephine Carney, Gulfport