Pinching pennies | March 23, story
Some have no pennies left to pinch
This was an interesting article. It must have been tailored to fit a particular demographic. When you're making minimum wage or even $10 an hour bagging at Publix, or if you are scraping monthly Social Security out like cheap margarine on day-old bread, where do you pinch? Everything is already squeezed so tight.
Fuel prices go up, not by some ineluctable dead-hand action of supply and demand, but at the whim of greedy oil execs with personal jets, by Rolls-driven Arabs, and the peculating speculators on futures markets. Food prices soar on fad and subsidy-driven conversions of farm production to corn ethanol. Housing costs make St. Petersburg's few park benches seem palatial or at least palatable. Medications are marked up stratospherically, to fund a Walgreens and CVS on every other corner. Medicare and Medicaid payments undergo annual radical surgery.
Cut back on movies — at the theater or on rental — that you already can't afford? Use the library you have to drive to at $3.25 a gallon, in absence of public transit? Even cat food, the other dark meat, is getting out of range.
Hmmm — pay the rent this month, or buy your cardiac medications? Choices, choices. Maybe that noted economist, Jack Kevorkian, has a remedy. The folks in Tallahassee and D.C. don't seem to.
But then they don't need to, do they?
Jon McPhee, St. Petersburg
The onslaught of bad news on the economy would have one believe there is actually a serious problem.
Having to resort to using the public library (horror of horrors!), eating out less frequently, and (gasp!) coloring your own hair are extreme sacrifices in these dire economic times.
Next thing you know, people will start taking out mortgages they can afford, buying used cars and spending more time with their families.
Then we'll know for sure that we're in a recession.
Gary Compton, Wesley Chapel
Tax plan is bankrupt | March 26, editorial
Spending limits are needed
Limiting tax increases by all levels of state and local governments is an idea supported by "antitax extremists"?
This comment from your editorial is laughable and shows just how out of touch the paper is with its readers. The proposed bill to limit governments' power to arbitrarily raise taxes to exorbitant levels will be passed overwhelmingly if placed on the ballot in November.
Supreme Court Justice John Marshall observed that "the power to tax involves the power to destroy." Look at what skyrocketing property taxes passed by local and county governments have done to the Florida real estate market. Want proof? Put your home on the market.
Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach
Tax cap sounds good, but … | March 22, commentary
Rein in government
Christopher Holley, writing on behalf of the taxing authorities who got us into this position in the first place, advocates continuance of the unfettered ability of government to tax the citizens.
Florida property owners are revolting against the unjust practice of taxing residents based on some made-up value of their homes and then watching government wildly spend its ill-gotten gains. The proposed amendment, which would set revenue and spending caps, seeks to rein in government and attach limits based on real-world measures — such as the taxpayer's ability to pay.
Contrary to Holley's assertion that this Taxpayers' Bill of Rights will force tax increases to match the consumer price index, TABOR will limit government's ability to raise taxes in excess of the CPI. Perhaps the CPI is not the best measure. An alternative might be growth in real income, but limits are indeed needed.
Stephen Small, Indian Rocks Beach
Florida's payroll sees some triple-dip
March 23, story
Too many shortchanged
I am outraged over choices Florida legislators made in their new budget-cutting round. How can elected officials continue to deny the most needy segment of the state's citizens when they refuse to deny highly paid state officials the unearned privilege of triple-dipping described in Sunday's news?
Schools, Medicaid, foster child care, health care and courts all get cheated. Florida's powerless children and seniors suffer the most. It's a blatant case of the rich get richer and the poor go begging.
Martha Lyons, Clearwater
Florida's payroll sees some triple-dip
March 23, story
Failures in Tallahassee
It's time to step up to the plate. The private sector is trimming pensions, health care and perks. Not Tallahassee. They just keep giving taxpayers' money away without any regard to those who live and now struggle in Florida. They need a reality check!
Lawmakers have smoked-screened the property taxes problem and the property insurance dilemma. Just what can they do? Citizens are fed up!
First, Gov. Charlie Crist must stop playing the wannabe vice president. He has a long road to travel before earning that privilege. The people deserve leadership, honesty, intelligence, guts and the vision to do what is right for Florida.
I would like to see panels of citizens organize for a better Florida and babysit many of our politicians who have failed us totally.
Nancy Hutton, Palm Harbor
Why target the needy?
I recognize the need for cutbacks in spending, but must we always do it at the expense of the needy? Do we have to cut Medicaid to those who depend on us for medical and financial help? Do we have to cut education for our children (our future decisionmakers)?
Why don't we immediately cut out the double- and triple-dippers. Do the people in Tallahassee think we are stupid and cannot see the conspiracy to keep their fellow legislators swimming in unfair benefits, while they tell us to tighten our belts? This needs to be fixed now.
Joan Bichsel, Clearwater
I work in an organization that deals directly with those who are homeless in St. Petersburg. I see daily the agony and pain of those living on the streets who have not even the luxury of a daily shower and clean clothes, who don't have the luxury of sleeping in a clean bed at night.
I am appalled by the greed of high-level officials involved in this practice of double-dipping. I realize that even $300-million would not solve the homeless problem, but I find this situation atrocious.
Richard Yentzer, St. Petersburg