How much do we need to be satisfied?
If we could only make more money. If we could only have a bigger house. If the company could only hit its projected margins. If only the stock price could double in two years. If only …
Then what? Goals and targets are set and attained all the time. It's no secret that if you focus on a goal hard enough, you will likely do whatever it takes to reach that goal and then attain it. There's nothing wrong with that. There are generally well-meaning reasons for wanting something.
What we seem to have lost sight of is that once you get there, you usually want something else. And then something else after that and so on. After a while, we forget why we want something and it becomes a need that we can't explain. We need it just because …
Now is an opportune time to take stock of what you want versus what you need and how much of it. Yes, the economy continues to slide. Yes, the financial institutions are reaping what they sowed. Yes, our government has a hell of a challenge in deciding how much to help its citizens help themselves. Yes, we are in a recession.
By definition, a recession is a slowdown. So slow down, take stock and ask yourself, "How much is enough, exactly?"
Maria B. Dolan, Tampa
New administration sends wrong message Feb. 3, letter
Integrity is essential in paying taxes
I share the writer's disappointment with our president's support for Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle after their significant tax delinquencies came to light, countering his call for responsibility and accountability. Integrity is a demanding principle. Integrity is 100 percent.
With regard to taxes, each citizen should assess his or her own tax compliance integrity. This is not an insignificant financial issue. The IRS reported their estimate of the tax gap — the difference between what taxpayers should have paid and what they actually paid on a timely basis — to be $345 billion per year.
There is a conspicuous need for presidential, congressional, judicial, corporate and individual integrity in meeting the economic and international tribulations our country must resolve.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Daschle derailed by taxes | Feb. 4, story
Time for tax change
Given President Obama's luck with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, we can put ethics lapses right up there next to death and taxes in the adage about inevitability.
I have two words for politicians who have and will founder under our impenetrable tax code: Fair Tax.
Cut crime. Save a politician's career. The Fair Tax concept is change on steroids.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Enterprise needs limits
Trickle-down economics does work, and free enterprise and the free market offer the best approach. However, that assumes a society of ethical, honorable and charitable individuals. When the economy becomes controlled by the Bernie Madoffs and CEOs and executives who feel that they are entitled to making millions or billions, then there is a problem. When profits are stolen by a group of select persons at the expense of the people, then there is a problem. When extravagant salaries, bonuses and golden parachutes exist, the money has to come from somewhere.
Everyone should have the right to get rich, but not at the expense of others. Free enterprise should not be the right to freely inflict some self-serving "enterprise" upon others for personal gain at their expense. President Obama is right in chastising arrogant Wall Street and self-serving CEOs.
Gary Keats, Clearwater
Obamas flee troubles, visit second-graders Feb. 4, story
Weary so soon
On the rockiest day of his presidency the president and his first lady fled the White House and visited a class of second-graders. The president, embarrassed and being hammered by the heat he was taking for two of his Cabinet nominees, both of whom neglected to pay all of their federal taxes, used the old "cut-and-run technique." When asked why he was at the school, he told the second-graders, "We were tired of being in the White House." Great lesson to pass on, sir.
He was tired of being in the White House. How long has he been there? Don't bother checking your calendar. It would better to check your watch!
Dennis P. Condon, Palm Harbor
Billions for bunglers; zero for us | Feb. 3, Paul Krugman column
We are the stockholders
Paul Krugman asks why taxpayers shouldn't get ownership of the troubled banks rather than the stockholders. The thesis is mindless.
There are millions of workers and retirees with their savings socked away in IRAs and 401(k)s that are loaded with bank stocks. These "owners," these hard-working, common folks, are bunglers, according to Krugman, They are the stockholders Krugman wants to leave holding the bag for a government that did not keep faith by proper oversight of these institutions. He wants to give their ownership to "taxpayers" as if the workers and retirees weren't taxpayers.
Please tell Krugman that "they" are "us." His way is definitely not the way out of our present economic crisis.
Robert Dockery, Tarpon Springs
It took a while, but state House Speaker Ray Sansom did the right thing for himself, his constituents and all Floridians by resigning his speaker post. His lack of judgment, or poor judgment, now rises to the level of several investigations. The Times Tallahassee bureau is to be commended for their investigative reporting. But before you crucify Sansom any further, it would be nice to let the facts speak for themselves and make final judgment after the investigation concludes.
Speaking of facts, I hope Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet, et al., will give readers, as Paul Harvey states, "the rest of the story." As a former legislator, and a vice chair of an appropriations committee, I can tell you that it is impossible to "sneak" something in the budget, especially $31 million in projects! It must be approved by 1) the speaker of the House, 2) the Senate budget chairman, 3) the Senate president, 4) the majority of the House and the Senate membership and 5) Gov. Charlie Crist. The House and Senate leadership was fully aware of these projects, as well as the governor's office.
I hope that you will report on how these projects really got signed into the final budget.
Frank Farkas, St. Petersburg
I have always considered Will Rogers more an oracle than a humorist. The answer to Tuesday's Cryptoquote by Rogers is one of the greatest examples: "People that pay for things never complain; it's the guy you give something to that you can't please."
He could never imagine how right that would be, even more so decades after his death!
A huge percentage of taxpayer money goes to those who will not work. The taxpayers pay for what they get and what the will-not-work crowd gets, too. The taxpayers obediently accept their lot, and the people who live off the taxpayers' largess constantly carp for more, more, more!
Fred Miller, Hernando
Doing God's work
Millard Fuller, who died on Feb. 3, was one of the few true Christians I have ever known. As co-founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center for Housing, he gave meaning to President Kennedy's reminder that God's work on Earth must truly be our own.
If the streets of heaven are in fact paved with gold, as some believe, I can imagine Millard urging God to rip them up so the gold can be used to fund decent housing for the poor on Earth. May his spirit and his housing ministry live on.
Philip Gailey, St. Petersburg