Help choose July's Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for July 2013 by visiting the website listed below by Monday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the Web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style.
The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three July nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Scott stands ground on law | July 29
I was sorely disappointed when I read the results of the poll on the "stand your ground" laws in Monday's Times. Vengeance is mine, sayeth Floridians.
My son visited last year. We hit the golf course and were paired with a lovely Canadian couple in their mid 70s. The husband was a former professional hockey goalie. Alas it was the "season" and the course was packed, producing the bane of all golfers, slow play.
A group behind us was very upset, as was everybody else, and one boorish, perhaps drunken player kept making loud remarks. By the 12th hole my 35-year-old son had had enough.
While we were waiting on the tee to hit our drives, clubs in hand, the most obnoxious player behind us stepped toward us and stared us down. My son started walking toward the man asking, "Are you staring at me? Do you have a problem with me?" The Canadian, still very fit and feisty, joined him. I immediately grabbed my son, and the wife grabbed the Canadian.
I had to lecture them both. This is Florida. If you had approached their cart and forgotten to drop your golf clubs, they could have simply drawn a gun and killed you on the spot. And it would have been legal.
My son from Ohio and the Canadian were dumbfounded. Why aren't we?
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
UAW largely broke Detroit's back July 29, letter
Building the middle class
As chairman of the Florida Suncoast Council, which represents UAW retirees in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties, I take great exception to this letter.
I have been a member of the UAW for more than 50 years, and know a great deal about what transpired in the plants during the 40 years I worked for GM. I did not witness acts of sabotage that the letter describes, and there were no wildcat strikes or walkouts. These are expressly forbidden in the UAW contracts.
In the 41 years I had in the workforce, there was only one national strike called against General Motors, and that was during the 1970 national contract negotiations. As far as the two plants that I worked in, Fisher Body and Buick Motor Division, there was one short local strike called in all those years. Hardly an abuse of the bargaining procedure.
The UAW deserves a lot of credit for establishing the middle class in this country. The UAW helped raise the standard of living across the entire country. No matter where you're employed, or what profession you may have, whether you are a union member or not, you are being paid more today because of union efforts in the past.
Ray Davis, Largo
McBudget is McCondescending July 29, commentary
Run the numbers
This was a great article about McDonald's salary structure, and it's equally applicable to no end of American corporations.
I was for several years a General Electric employee. I recall a stockholder submitting a proposal for the GE annual stockholders' meeting in the late '90s urging caps on the ratio of top executive compensation to minimum compensation.
In advance of the meeting, GE lawyers wrote every stockholder with their argument against adopting such a cap: Attracting and retaining top-tier talent, which maximizes shareholder value, would be impossible if GE could no longer pay top dollar to compete for other corporations' talent pool. Shareholders voted the proposal down.
I wonder how hard it would be to obtain a data dump on McDonald's payroll, top to bottom, for a couple of recent years. It would be revealing to publish a pyramid of before-and-after salary levels that would result from redistributing the total pay pie, on the premise of bumping minimum pay from $8.50 an hour to, say, $15. By how much would the pay of the top five McDonald's execs decline? Those who make $150,000 to $300,000? By how much would the profit of a franchise owner decline to absorb the extra pay?
A few pyramids of before-and-after graphics might make for a powerful assault on the kingpins of commerce. Or perhaps not. Maybe the execs could document that such communal compensation practices would be fatal to American business.
Richard Junker, Valrico
Survey says: At 63 you're obsolete July 30, Daniel Ruth column
Questions of the age
While I appreciate, as always, Daniel Ruth's riveting observations, I am compelled to point out to the Granddaddy of the Golden Years that perhaps the reason that Mick Jagger would not be asked his view on guitars is because he is the lead singer, not guitarist, for the Rolling Stones.
Now if the Neophyte Maiden of the Mall had inquired of, say, Keith Richards or Ron Wood, then I would have seen the point. Perhaps the Ruthless Historical Revisionist was not interviewed further because he was not the target demographic. At any rate, why complain? Mr. Ruth was asked his age, which means, at least, that the Codger of Citrus Park is aging well. Keep up the good work.
Christopher J. Gerber, St. Petersburg
Has anyone besides me noticed that the referendum question is backward? Vote "no" to go forward with the Lens, vote "yes" to say no to it?
Carol Abernathy, St. Petersburg