Tampa sends greetings to Cuba | Sept. 23
U.S. opportunities await in Cuba
I was one of the lucky few who were privileged to go on the inaugural flight from Tampa to Havana. After over 50 years of no flights between these two closely tied cities, direct flights were finally allowed. The trip was quite an eye-opener.
The Cuban people were remarkably kind to me, considering our government refers to them as terrorists and our government's trade embargo heavily contributes to their suffering. The people of Cuba want Tampa to trade with them, and Tampa has a historic connection with Havana through our ports and people.
I saw Spain, Canada, China, Venezuela and other foreign countries working with Cuba to exploit its natural resources. I saw jobs. Don't get me wrong; I don't support Cuba's government, and the people continue to suffer under its control. Frankly, I don't support the governments of many countries we trade with like China, Venezuela, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to name a few.
The point is, if we trade with other communist, dictatorship and socialist countries, we should trade with Cuba. We need to end the failed embargo immediately.
Americans are the greatest people in the world, and we are letting our competition beat us because of our crippling policies and regulations. The government keeps promising us jobs while they tie our hands behind our backs and create boogeymen to scare us. If federal and state officials are serious about U.S. job creation, they need to end the Cuban embargo and let Americans participate in rebuilding Cuba and safely extracting its resources.
Finally, I am relieved our City Council had the manners, if not the courage, to provide Councilwoman Mary Mulhern with a letter of greetings from the people of Tampa. We have an opportunity to reconnect with our historical trading partner, and our elected officials need to be proactive in getting the business for Tampa and Florida. Alabama, Georgia and other states are already capitalizing on hundreds of millions of dollars in trade with Cuba. We can't afford to miss the boat.
Stephen Diaco, Tampa
No court foreclosures? | Sept. 21
Blame lenders for delays
Depriving citizens of their rights by denying them access to courts while they're in foreclosure would be another public policy disaster in a state that in recent years has seemed to specialize in such disasters.
There are two reasons for the delay in foreclosures that we cannot blame on the state's courts. The first is the disorganization and incompetence of the lenders. The lending system that ultimately led to the real estate crash was set up for one purpose: profit. The mortgage servicers and lenders involved were ill-prepared to deal with the fallout of the real estate crash.
The second reason for the state's foreclosure backlog is the rampant fraud that has been committed by the mortgage servicers and lenders. That has made it more difficult to prove that they have the right to collect on a mortgage and then foreclose on the property.
It should not be the job of the Florida Legislature to bail out a trillion-dollar banking industry that is being hampered by its own dysfunction. It is also important to note that consumers across Florida are winning their cases and being awarded damages because of this fraud. These dishonest practices should have been mentioned in the Sept. 21 article.
I find it ironic that our governor and legislative leaders seem intent on protecting the lending industry from the "free market" they purport to believe in. Instead, this legislation would ensure that the lending industry would continue to reap profits by freeing them from the rules and regulations that were in place when the original loans were made.
In these difficult times, our Legislature should focus on creating jobs for the people, not profit for the banks. Without jobs, there can be no boost to the real estate market. Without individual property rights, there can be no prosperity.
Sami Thalji, Esq., Tampa
Class war as target practice
The rich, the Wall Street class, the big corporations, have most certainly declared class warfare on the poor of our nation. With the casualties on only one side of the war, and the booty and swag all on the other side, we might be better served by calling the matter "target practice."
The ruling money class want us dumb and destitute. They have something like Guatemala as their paradigm, and the only jobs available would be those of polishing their boats and their boots.
Our children are the first generation in America whose lives will be worse than our own: quality of life, freedom, social mobility, and every other aspect of our lives. An intelligent parasite would feed gently and let its host survive, but these powerful, in all their greed, are utterly destroying the middle class in our society. Good, honest people are now living on the street, and their numbers are growing.
With construction jobs gone, the only source of "wealth" is in shuffling paper or the electronic equivalent of paper. The word "wealth" is in quotes, because Wall Street does not create wealth. They trade in it, and rearrange it to their benefit, but it creates absolutely nothing.
The conservatives are working to take away our Social Security and our Medicare, and Wall Street has already destroyed much of our pension funds. Their class warfare is determined to take away from us what little remains of our possessions, our freedoms, and our personal dignity.
Do not go quietly back into that dark age of serfdom.
James L. Singer, Brooksville
For a national sales tax
The rich inarguably pay the majority of all income tax that is collected by the federal government. Fifty percent of Americans now pay no income tax at all. Of those two groups, which is closer to paying its fair share?
I am a proponent of a national sales tax and the abolition of the existing personal income tax. A national sales tax would be paid by everybody and would kill all loopholes. Generally speaking, the more a person earns, the more he spends; and the more he spends, the more he will be taxed.
All earners — legal and illegal, those paid by check or those paid in cash — would have to pay their fair share. Items such as food and medicine could continue being tax-exempt. Items like cigarettes and liquor could carry a higher tax, as they contribute to additional costs having to be borne by our country.
No system is perfect, but a national sales tax would be simple and fair for all.
Jeff Reckson, St. Petersburg