Defending Americans' 'right to rise' | Dec. 21, commentary
Businesses sitting on big profits
Jeb Bush tries to make a case for a society where businesses could prosper if only there were fewer rules to impede them. I would remind him that big business is making unimagined profits and using them to buy whatever government rules they wish.
The reason 99 percent of us have lost faith in government is that the trickle-down promised by his thinking has never happened and the top 1 percent owns way too much of the money and controls way too many of our Congress with campaign contributions.
I am a 73-year-old retired registered nurse living on Social Security. I am full of hope and fear. Hope that Congress will realize that all businesses would do better if the "little guy" does better. The stick in the wheel is campaign contributions by business lobbies to both sides of the aisle. My fear is that nothing will change.
Karen Doulin, Brooksville
Defending Americans' 'right to rise' Dec. 21, commentary
Corporate power erodes
Our ex-governor makes the typical Republican/tea party case for "freedom of the individual" and the dangers of "excessive government regulation." He actually uses the words "people/individuals" 12 times. Nowhere, however, does he mention the word "corporation." No mention of their power or influence or their pursuing their interest in rewarding their top executives and shareholders unimpeded by "excessive regulation."
Individual rights and freedoms are something we all value. However, the political and economic reality today is that many of our problems are the result of the corrupting power and influence of corporate interests at the expense of individuals and/or the environment.
How noble of the ex-governor to be concerned about the rights of the individual and the free market. What he really is espousing is continuing to let industries like oil, power, banking, insurance, health care and the like operate unencumbered by what he considers to be excessive regulation.
Rick Wilk, Clearwater
Poor demand is the problem
Jeb Bush bemoans the fact that excessive regulation is preventing people from engaging in risk-taking, entrepreneurial activity. According to him, the problem is that government regulation prevents American risk-takers from taking advantage of opportunities that the panacea of a free and unregulated marketplace offers.
From my perspective it seems lack of access to credit and capital, poor consumer demand and loss of consumer and investor confidence have more to do with today's economic malaise than any regulatory scheme. Bush's commentary seems more of a philosophical grousing that is short of analysis and specifics.
For the last 20 years, government regulation of many economic activities has been vastly curtailed, while American business has led us into one cataclysm after another. Most recently, we had the subprime scandal which can be attributed to a large degree to excision of regulation. Before that, we had scandals such as Enron and the savings and loan meltdown caused by removal of regulation. In all of these and many other instances, the American taxpayer has been required to socialize the losses while being denied the private gain.
One only had to turn the page to find out where Bush's social Darwinist philosophy would inevitably lead. In an article in the Tampa Bay section, we learned that the employer of a worker crushed to death was fined for safety violations. Under Bush's idea of a cost-benefit analysis for regulations, it is cheaper for the company to pay the $12,000 fine than to ensure a safe workplace.
Tom Fielding, Bradenton
As Cuba plans to drill, Coast Guard stays alert | Dec. 21
At the mercy of others
I can only shake my head over the latest news of the responses proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard and nearby Caribbean nations should a catastrophic spill result from Cuba's pending foray into drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
I find it ironic that as a result of longstanding U.S. policy toward Cuba and the current de facto "embargo" against drilling within parts of our own maritime borders, we can only watch, wait and plan for potential problems within 100 miles of Key West caused by foreign companies we cannot monitor and a foreign nation we refuse to recognize.
Cuba's benefactor is apparently a Spanish drilling company with a spotty safety record which, pursuant to U.S. embargo restrictions, is prohibited from using drilling equipment and platforms that contain more than 10 percent of U.S.-made materials.
While I have concerns about near-shore oil drilling in the wake of the BP disaster, by ceding all future exploration to Cuba, it appears we will continue to face all of its potential dangers and massive expense, while realizing none of the potential for at least a measure of additional energy independence from the Middle East.
Robert Heyman, St. Petersburg
Now that congressional Republicans finally agreed to the tax cut President Obama wanted, they have proven that if enough voters are watching, they might actually do the right thing instead of playing politics and being obstructionists.
George Petrick, Riverview
B of A to pay $335M over mortgage bias lawsuit | Dec. 22
Not enough punishment
What have we become? A bank commits fraud on thousands of people and its new owner gets away with a financial settlement made with shareholders' money. And all of those responsible go on their merry way collecting obscene bonuses.
Fred Beerman, Tampa
Pinellas County EMS
The EMS issue before Pinellas County commissioners is unnecessarily complex and wrought with politics.
It's time to put the interests of the citizens first. The obvious next step is to decrease the number of fire departments in Pinellas County. The opportunity to further improve the EMS system and to provide citizens with the best bang for their bucks lies in removing the number of fingers dipping into a dwindling pot.
Duncan Hitchcock, New Port Richey