Wall Street bailout
It's time for Americans to pay the piper In reference to the bailout, Barack Obama said the other day that this would be a defining moment in U.S. history. I certainly agree, but probably not for the reasons that Obama (or the other bailout supporters including John McCain) have in mind.
I think it will be a defining moment regarding the acceptance by the citizens of the United States of their obligation to begin living within their means rather than continuing to borrow to pay for a lifestyle that they cannot afford. Easy credit and the lack of savings are placing this country in a dangerous position relative to our competitors as those competitors gain increasing control through our debt obligations.
And don't be fooled with respect to the statements that the cost of the bailout will be borne by the taxpayer. Not a single politician has mentioned a tax increase to pay for the bailout, and in fact both presidential candidates include a tax cut proposal in their platforms. Given that the estimated cost of the bailout per U.S. citizen is about $2,000, why are we not raising taxes accordingly to pay for it? Because we will simply add the cost to our deficit and borrow the money from China.
We as U.S. citizens have got to accept that we cannot buy Porsches on a Chevy budget. Actually, I think the taxpayers realize this and that's why so many oppose the bailout package. But the politicians and the media refuse to accept this because they want that economy to keep rolling along despite the long-term cost to our financial strength, foreign policy and prestige as an economic leader.
Sooner or later we will have to pay the piper, and I think that we should do so now rather than dumping the debt on our children and grandchildren. It's going to hurt, but it's our responsibility.
Bill Arnold, St. Petersburg
Tax Wall Street to fund a bailout
Congress should have Wall Street fund the bailout by adding a Security Transaction Excise Tax — a STET — to their legislation. This revenue could be used to fund the stabilization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the asset purchases that the Treasury secretary insists are needed.
A modest STET for the United States — beginning with a quarter or half a percent tax on equity trades and scaled appropriately for other financial instruments — would generate substantial new government revenues, on the order of $100-billion-plus per year. It could also be applied to hedge funds and all the derivatives and newfangled investment instruments that helped generate the mess.
A STET also has the benefit of impacting short-term speculative traders more than long-term investors. The impact of a quarter or half a percent fee for an investor who has held an investment for 10 years is minimal while the same fee applied to short trades could slow down speculation.
The United States should insist that all international financial markets impose the same tax, with the funds to be used for similar bailouts. That way one market won't suffer competitively.
The idea gets brought up every decade after we have a market crash, but it has usually been blocked by lobbyists for Wall Street. Now is the time to pass it!
Karen Burns, MBA, Gulfport
Let them fail | Oct. 1, letter
Bailout helps all of us
The letter writer apparently speaks for a majority of the public as we keep hearing about bailing out companies on Wall Street. But where do we think those who get a pension check every month get that check? Wall Street.
Others are still working who are contributing to a pension fund (including the pension fund of the state of Florida). Where do they think their contributions are going? Wall Street.
If we are contributing to a 401(k) account, where do we think those accounts are parked? Wall Street.
Who do we think is lending us the money when we buy a car? Wall Street.
Who do we think is lending us the money for a mortgage to buy a house? Wall Street.
I see a great deal of unjustified anger at this rescue plan from people who think it is bailing out big bad companies. But it is not. It's bailing out all of us.
Andrew Long, St. Petersburg
Beyond their means
If you notice, the ones pushing for this idea of a bailout — politicians, reporters and economists on TV — are all top earners. They keep talking about 401(k)s and so forth. I have a news flash for them: Many workers do not have 401(k)s or any form of retirement plan because they cannot afford them. They do not even have health insurance. Look around and see how many people are in jobs that pay minimum wage. Do you think they have 401(k)s?
These folks are being told they need credit so they can buy cars or whatever else they cannot afford. The last thing people who are already having financial problems need is credit. Even our government needs to learn to live within its means.
Jacqueline Gan, Tarpon Springs
Where are all the letters telling how people lost money because they had more than $100,000 in a failed bank? And now we should be happy that the Senate wants to increase to $250,000 the amount protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., while all the rest of the $700-billion bailout for Wall Street remains?
Further, how do tax breaks for renewable energy, expansion of the child tax credit, adjustment of the alternative minimum tax, and tax relief to storm victims (additions by the Senate) change the $700-billion that we don't want given to Wall Street?
Curtis Zeigler, Land O'Lakes
Try mortgage relief
Call me naive, but perhaps there is a simple partial solution to the nation's financial woes. Businesses are allowed to restructure their debts, why not the foolish homeowners who bit off that filet mignon, when they could only afford Mickey D's?
If the greedy mortgage companies would work with their mortgagees by turning their adjustable-rate mortgages into meaningful lower interest, fixed-rate contracts, quite possibly the foreclosure rate would drop dramatically, thus allowing these grossly overextended homeowners to retain their homes. (When I say meaningful, I mean dropping interest rates 2 or more points, and possibly writing off part of the loan balance.)
There would also be the added benefit to the lending institution of not having to go through the foreclosure process.
The nation as a whole is in dire financial straits, as most of us are aware, and if we are to survive this current, greed-fueled crisis, we must all pull our belts in a couple of notches.
That means lending institutions too.
Jay Steelman, Gulfport
St. Petersburg College appointee is a perfect fit | Sept. 25, letter
Rules must be followed
I have been a university/college job applicant, interviewee and a member of the screening committee that selects the finalists for consideration. So I read this letter with my own level of "astonishment" at the letter writer's lack of understanding — call it naivete — at the actual process that must be followed when hiring at a college or university.
There are strict rules from the college searching to fill a position, the EEOC and the state of Florida (Sunshine laws apply here) that must be strictly adhered to when going through this process. There are strict limits on communication between committee members when official search meetings are not in session; guidelines for writing a job description and guidelines for the minimum qualifications to be considered for the position in question.
The question is not whether Violetta Sweet is "intelligent, articulate," "extremely gracious" or "perfectly adept" at her job. The question is whether St. Petersburg College president Carl Kuttler and the SPC Human Resources Department followed these well-known rules and guidelines when making the decision to hire.
These rules are in place for specific reasons and, if they were not followed, then those responsible should be held accountable.
Dr. David Coash, faculty, University of Tampa, Tampa
Fair weather fans | Sept. 30, letter
Enjoy the triumph
I have been a Yankees fan for years and have sat in the stadium with 7,000 other people when the Yanks had a run of losing seasons.
Everybody loves a winner, and since the management has decided to field a team with a meaningful purpose the fans have come, including myself. Would the writer prefer we continue to stay away?
The days of whining are over. Enjoy the triumph along with the many other true baseball fans who support a winning team.
John Masterson, Spring Hill