Better way on taxes | Dec. 10, editorial
Confiscating wealth no answer
I'd like to know more about the "social impacts" of inherited wealth mentioned in this editorial in its advocacy of a higher rate of estate tax.
I know the "social impacts" of drugs, low educational aspirations, lack of ambition, teenage pregnancy and poor life choices. But inherited wealth? I've never been robbed, accosted, molested or bothered in any way by someone's inherited wealth. But I have worked my whole life, directly or indirectly, for people with money. Inherited or not, it's been just fine. In fact, I like rich people. They don't require much in the way of government "services" and seem capable of taking care of their families without reaching their hand into my pocket.
I've also witnessed the job- and business-killing effects of a confiscatory estate tax. When you rob 55 percent of a small or family-owned business, it is no longer a viable concern.
The incentives are backwards. People work hard to build wealth, hoping to improve the life of their heirs. But when you know the government will simply take it upon death you are forced to game the system with teams of accountants and lawyers.
The fundamental problem with our tax system is not low rates; it's that too few contribute. Only half of today's workers pay anything. Most of the burden is carried by a small and shrinking group. We've already passed the tipping point where the moochers can outvote the industrious. We need a system where everyone pays the same flat tax.
Raymond A. Baker, St. Petersburg
Repeal the death tax
Your editorial board's ideology and arrogance is something to behold. Twice recently you have made the comment regarding the president's compromise with congressional Republicans that the proposed tax rates on estates of 35 percent, with an exemption of $5 million, is far too "generous."
Who is being generous? The government? It's not their money. Money that is accumulated over a lifetime of hard work is taxed as it is earned. What gives the government or society the right to confiscate any percentage of this accumulated wealth? The death tax should be repealed.
Charles H. Heist, Clearwater
Recovery requires patience, paperwork Dec. 12
Some success story
In Myakka City, small business Myakka Technologies landed an $8 million federal stimulus grant to bring "broadband to the boonies," thereby meeting one of the administration's goals of stimulus spending to expand broadband services to rural America.
They expect to create 40 jobs. I have two problems with this: the math and the cost.
The average number of persons per U.S. household is 2.67, therefore Myakka City's population of 4,200 would have 1,573 households available for broadband. If every household signed up for broadband the net gain would be 373 customers for the company. Are they really going to create 40 jobs to service 373 more customers?
And if they did create 40 jobs, the cost per job is $195,000. The cost per household to bring improved broadband to the area is $4,958.
Our government is borrowing $8 million we don't have to provide improved broadband service to a small number of people who already have it and calling it a "success story." Anyone wonder why people are angry about government spending?
Doug Longfellow, Tampa
Public's business best not done in private Dec. 10, Daniel Ruth column
Public too compliant
Our family loves Daniel Ruth's observations of life in Florida, but we think he is wrong about the possible fate of the new governor. The majority of the voters of this state have proven over and over that they are devoid of any level of intellectual ability. They remind us of the Stockholm Syndrome where the captured and abused identify with their captors and even seek to protect them from the law.
We hope we are wrong, but we predict that the new governor will do whatever he likes hand in hand with the new speaker of the House. They will run roughshod across our few remaining wetlands, destroy our public school system and tell the voters that everything they do is "for our own good."
Barbara Hodges, Tarpon Springs
Not as smart as we think | Dec. 11
Brainwashed by politicians
The column by Rex Smith hit the nail on the head in stating that we the people are grossly uninformed about our government and the state of our country.
I agree except for one small detail. I believe we are misinformed. Most people lead very busy lives and spend little time reading about what is happening in our government.
We have entered an era of negative campaigning in which most of the information coming from our political parties is slanted or untrue. We are in fact being brainwashed by our politicians.
In the midterms, we the people decided that the Democrats were spending too much money, so we put the people back in power who were running the government when the economy went into the tank.
Robert K. Powell, Spring Hill
It's 'we the corporations'
While I agree with the headline of the column by Rex Smith, I would challenge his premise that "we the people" are in charge of this country.
When you see how much money was contributed, by whom, and to what candidates, and then check who won the races, you'll find it's "we the corporations" who are running this country.
Jay S. Brown, St. Petersburg
Rail is the future
I hope Rick Scott understands that high-speed rail is as important to the future of our country as interstate highways were in the 1950s and 1960s.
We must link our major cities. And where better to showcase the future to the millions of U.S. and international visitors than Orlando. Our national leaders see the significance of the opportunity and have agreed to fund virtually 100 percent of the cost.
Scott is right to carefully examine the budget, but I hope he can find a way to bring the jobs and economic development this system promises.
Linwood Gilbert, St. Petersburg
Europe miles ahead in public transport Dec. 13
Don't follow Europe's lead
Llewellyn King's column on the state of public transport in Europe vs. the United States was an excellent summary of the planner's conundrums in changing American transport habits.
From the post-World War II era, Europe has been willing to spend whatever it takes on public social welfare and transit systems.
Europe's heyday of social welfare is coming to a close. While profligate public transport spending is only one of Europe's profound stupidities, we are accelerating rapidly down their path. Gov.-elect Rick Scott should turn down the feds' $2.8 billion, which will probably turn out to be $1 billion short of the full tab, and turn his attention to what light rail and electric buses could do for Florida.
Tampa Bay, especially, doesn't need a fast way to get to Disney World, which is only 60 minutes by interstate in cars that will soon average 45 miles per gallon.
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg