Democracy's failure to reverse inequality | May 15, commentary
To remedy inequality, change law
I was dismayed by this column's conclusion that there might be little that democracies can do to stop the rise of inequality. This is a false conclusion drawn from a false framing that only taxation policy can be applied to the problem.
Economies are the sum total of the laws and regulations that make them up. Laws that we write through our elected government have a huge impact on outcomes. For example, there is nothing "natural" about the fact that corporations are chartered at the state level instead of the federal. There is nothing natural about the limited liability joint stock corporation, the company design most of us work for. It is a creature of law.
A proposal that would go a long way toward solving inequality would be a National Companies Act that charters corporations for a national economy at a national level. Under the new definition, in return for limited liability, every corporation employee (and only employees) would be equal voting shareholders. Depending on company size, the employee-shareholders would regularly elect management or the board of directors. These corporations could raise money from banks, crowd-sourcing and selling nonvoting shares. That's it.
This is not some pie-in-the-sky proposal. This institutional design has existed in the United States as long as the corporation. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, every type of business has been organized this way for 100 years. It is called the cooperative.
Cooperative-corporations will compete and operate in a free market economy just like existing corporations they would replace, with no additional regulation or government intervention needed.
But can you imagine employees electing CEOs who pay themselves 1,000 times the average worker's salary? Broad, much more equal wealth distribution would happen "naturally" by design.
Robert Clark, Tampa
Jany exits Pinellas congressional race May 14
Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long is spot-on in her assessment that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee does not appear to have the best interests of the county at heart with its misguided support of Ed Jany for the 13th Congressional District race. This is the prime reason that I refuse the many solicitations for contributions that I receive from the DCCC.
As the past president of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club, I could come up with at least a dozen highly qualified registered Democrats, longtime residents of the district, including Long, who would be very worthy opponents of the incumbent. The fact that many of these would receive no support from the DCCC because they are too "independent" and would not follow the dictates of the DCCC is the main reason we have a Republican representing this district in Washington.
James Donelon, St. Petersburg
Insanity? No, murder | May 16
Guns and crime
The next time there's a mass shooting (and there will be a next time), the legislators supported by the NRA will again trot out the notion that the real problem is mental illness, and the country's failure to address that problem. Then they'll do nothing to address the problem. Meanwhile, the Schenecker family tragedy proves otherwise.
Julie Schenecker had access to the finest mental health care and had even been hospitalized for nine months. Her years of treatment continued right up until the day she shot and killed her two children.
So, clearly, it wasn't lack of attention to her mental illness that killed her children. It was the gun.
Bonnie Agan, St. Petersburg
Drug test: small price to pay May 15, letter
Supreme Court has ruled
Those who continue to write in support of government drug testing for recipients of public assistance would do well to study the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. The issue of government drug testing was resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court almost 30 years ago, in rulings that limit random government drug testing to "safety sensitive" positions such as railroad employees, certain airline personnel, truck drivers, and others for whom drug impairment could cause serious harm to the public and others.
With a few limited exceptions, those not in safety sensitive positions can only be tested as a result of individualized suspicion. Receiving public assistance does not constitute individualized suspicion of drug use. Period. As morally certain as drug testing supporters might be, they haven't a legal leg to stand on.
Charles N. Stewart, New Port Richey
Ex-detective's road-rage deal angers victim May 16
Thomas Pettis created a very dangerous situation and expected his status as a law enforcement officer to release him from responsibility. Apparently, he is right. If you or I had done such a thing, we would be in court right now facing multiple felony charges.
Unless Pettis is held responsible, his actions will taint public perception of law enforcement in general and the reputation of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office specifically.
Michael Rice, Clearwater
Silly, but it rocks anyway | May 15
Hilarious and fun
I think the reviewers all had their senses of humor removed before seeing this one. Stephanie Hayes joins others in slamming We Will Rock You as "totally contrived" and "incredibly stupid." Don't these critics know satire when they see it?
No wonder audiences love the show, which is often hilarious, fun to watch with its quirky costumes and sets, and features classic Queen tunes, inventively arranged.
Qualitywise, this show is miles beyond dozens of others I've seen, including the insipid Once, which somehow grabbed a slew of Tonys.
All reviewers who pan a show for "thin plot" should be booted off to Cole Porter re-education camp.
Liz Drayer, Clearwater