Businesses pushed to cash-only
As a small business owner, I have known for a long time how much banks make when a credit card or debit card is processed. Merchant fees have been going up for years. My business stopped accepting any cards years ago — it was just too expensive.
When you use a credit card that offers rewards, who do you think is paying for those rewards? The banks? Of course not. The business is: The free flights, hotels and gift cards are all funded by businesses that pass on costs to consumers or lose money by accepting those cards. It costs more for a business to accept a card with rewards than one without — a fact many are unaware of.
As for debit cards, I think most consumers did not realize that there was a fee passed on to businesses when they are used.
Cash or check is sounding better and better.
Edie Backman, Tampa
Interview with soldier angers Israel | Oct. 19
What a contrast. One Israeli released for 1,000 Palestinians. Released Israeli soldier Gilad Scha-lit expressed hope that the prisoner swap would lead to peace. Released Palestinian prisoners, in contrast, expressed hope that more Israeli soldiers would be kidnapped.
Compare their physical conditions. Schalit appeared weak, dazed and malnourished. The released Palestinians, many of whom were convicted of murdering civilians, appeared well-fed and healthy. Thus the Israelis again demonstrated that they are both more committed to peace and more humanitarian.
Barry Jackson, Tampa
Occupy Wall Street
If the Wall Street protesters had the same political clout as the National Rifle Association, there would be no restrictions on their activities. It is odd that there are so many restrictions on our First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble, but almost none on where we can carry our beloved instruments of death.
Mark Brandt, Dunedin
Not the madding crowd | Oct. 19, commentary
Building a new foundation
David Brooks makes sense of the tectonic shifts in our economic and social foundations. His sensible take on the changing norms of thrift offers reason for optimism.
Staying with the geological analogy, one plate, call it the statist equality of outcome plate, has shifted seismically to the left. The opposing plate, call it the free market opportunity society, inexorably pushes back. The tea party and the Occupy Wall Street phenomenons are naturally occurring aftershocks.
The hope is that America's foundations will stabilize on the bedrock of a values restoration that Brooks foresees. Restoration requires repairs to our economic moral fabric. That starts with an emerging new lexicon with words like income mobility versus redistribution, delayed gratification versus profligacy, means testing, and institutional reforms.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Wild weather headed to Tampa Bay | Oct. 18
On Tuesday, the bay area witnessed a day of limited construction, shopping, golfing, lawn maintenance, beach activity, amusement park and zoo attendance, and possibly higher than normal school absenteeism.
It was another day in which our economy suffered because all media outlets in the area informed us we were to experience a 100 percent certainty of heavy rains, 2 to 6 inches, and strong winds. And forecasters wonder why so many ignore evacuation advice during approaching hurricanes.
As the day turned to sunset, one TV weather anchor said we would possibly get some spotty showers during the evening. Early Wednesday morning, I received about 2½ minutes of light rain. By 7:45 a.m. there were blue skies, and a bit later, brilliant sunshine.
More than once many of us have been told by an older person that a certain part of his or her body aches when we're in for a weather change. That may be more accurate; it is certainly less expensive.
Charles Olds, Odessa
Inmate was on suicide watch before hanging Oct. 18
Mistakes all around
The mother of the inmate who committed suicide claims, "Someone messed up somewhere." The mother gives birth to a son at 18 years old, with no mention of his father. Then the inmate has his child at 16 years old, spends most of his adult life behind bars, gets released and reoffends and is facing possibility of life sentence. Yes, someone has messed up.
Robert Ridgeway, New Port Richey
Vinik: No plan to seek reimbursement Oct. 18
Setting an example
Maybe it's time for Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to man up like Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. Stop whining, renovate the Trop, and do it on your own nickel. A new stadium, particularly at taxpayers' expense, is unnecessary.
Hal Freedman, St. Petersburg
Friedman proceeds with caution | Oct. 16
Out of the big leagues
Buried in this article are the comments of New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden, who says the "Rays are destined for a tragic ending" and "a contraction is coming," even though Major League Baseball would have to eliminate a second team.
With the football Buccaneers into their second season of home game TV blackouts due to poor attendance, what fan can believe that a new Rays stadium anywhere in Hillsborough County will magically attract enough fans for home games to ensure a profitable franchise?
Baseball is sports business just as TV and movies are show business. Films and TV shows fail due to poor viewership, so a baseball franchise losing money like the Rays will sadly disappear. The recession has taken the bay area out of the big leagues, except for ice hockey.
David P. Carter, Seminole
Social Security COLA back | Oct. 19
Give and take
Finally, Social Security recipients will be given a cost of living adjustment. But Medicare premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments, will go up.
The government giveth and the government taketh away.
B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg