We elect those who act against us
The Congressional Budget Office recently ranked various proposals as to their value at creating jobs. The best value for the buck? Extending unemployment benefits. The worst value? Continuing the Bush tax cuts, which the Republicans have set as their priority despite the fact that doing so will not stimulate jobs and will add $70 billion per year to the nation's debt. As for continuing unemployment benefits, they are willing only if Democrats agree to cut tax rates for the rich. How morally bankrupt are they?
With a spineless president to protect us, I shudder to think of what is to come over the next decade. I foresee Social Security and Medicare gutted, Medicaid cuts, less financial aid for schools and college students, and of course further tax reductions for millionaires. And, watch for Republican attempts to privatize Social Security, Medicare and public schools in the coming years.
Why is it that we consistently elect politicians who vote against our best interests? It's because the voice that speaks loudest in politics is the voice of money. In the last election, most of the political attack ads were sponsored by special interest groups with innocent-sounding names that suggest they come from grass-roots Americans.
One example is Americans for Prosperity, an organization largely funded by the oil-rich, billionaire Koch brothers, a pair whose real goal is to promote candidates who will favor oil industry deregulation, antienvironmental causes, and tax favors for the rich.
Sadly, groups like this are effective. Just how dumb are we?
Alan J. Jacobs, New Port Richey
Don't give puppies
as Christmas gifts
Please don't give a puppy as a holiday gift. As a professional dog behavioral therapist and trainer, I see cases year after year of puppies that were given as a "wow for now" surprise, but when the newness wore off and their owners became tired of all the responsibilities, they were neglected, given up or even abused.
A living puppy should not be thought of in the same category as a holiday toy. When a puppy is adopted, he should be carefully chosen as a permanent addition to the family who will contribute much but will also have needs of his own, which require a serious commitment from all family members.
Adding a puppy to your life is, on average, a 15-year responsibility. Raising a happy, well-balanced puppy requires an enormous time commitment, so a young pup is not a suitable choice for every dog lover. Remember, it may take several years for a rambunctious puppy to settle down into a calmer adult dog.
If the intended recipient seems ready for a puppy, be sure they can answer "yes" to these questions:
• Are you ready to participate in training and managing all aspects of the responsibilities of puppy (and dog) ownership, every day?
• Can you afford to provide good nutrition, veterinary care, training and everything else the pup will need?
• Are you willing to walk or take your dog out at least six times a day, in all sorts of weather?
• Do you have a reliable pet-sitter or dog walker who can care for your pet when you're at work or out of town?
Remember too that most adult dogs tend to be calmer, have more predictable behaviors, and are already housebroken.
If your gift recipient is really ready for dog ownership, set a date after the holidays to start looking for the perfect dog. Research responsible breeders, or visit your local animal shelter or rescue so the gift recipient can choose a dog that they really want and one that will match their lifestyle.
Jeff Drier, New Port Richey
Storms aims at transportation panel | Dec. 1
Transit panel is effective
During several years as the director of parking and ground transportation dealing with taxi and limo issues for Tampa International Airport, I worked closely with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. The existence of this agency and the work it does has gained national recognition for effectiveness in establishing a safe, honest and efficient transportation-for-hire system for citizens and visitors (a very important asset for a community that relies so heavily on conventions and tourism). It was very important for past Super Bowls.
The problems that have occurred are usually due to politics and the political antics of board members. A case in point was Kevin White's politically based attacks on the effective and respected HCPTC executive director in 2007 that caused his resignation. This was not Kevin White's only controversy.
All issues have more than one side. While a specific decision, like banning free electric carts, may seem unjustifiable, when all factors are considered the reasons become evident and easily supported.
The PTC may have some problems, but "the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater" for political reasons.
Joe Hills, Tampa
Losing a capable official
Thanks to term limits, we lose another capable official, Pam Iorio, who might have been interested in another stint. Term limits have also given us lobbyists in Tallahassee with more experience than the Legislature.
Isn't it about time to apply term limits logic to the concept of term limits, and vote to abolish them? It's an idea that has been proven to give us the opposite effect than the one we wanted.
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview
Put government on a diet | Nov. 30, letter
Remove earnings cap
Amen to the letter writer calling for government to be put on a diet. There is one thing that was omitted: a very simple to fix Social Security. All the "statesmen" in Congress have to do is remove the cap so that everyone pays on all income in any given year. The low-income person pays on 100 percent of his income each year. Why not everyone?
Also, let the Bush tax cuts expire. And finally, restore the unemployment benefits as long as necessary. The people receiving these benefits will put the money right back into the economy, giving it a much-needed boost.
Carolynne Paul, Weeki Wachee
House censures Rangel | Dec. 3
Lack of integrity
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., was accused of failing to declare hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal assets on his financial disclosure forms, failing to pay state and federal taxes on rental income on his villa in the Dominican Republic and helping to preserve a tax loophole worth hundreds of millions of dollars for an oil company at the same time that he was seeking a $1 million contribution to the Rangel Center from a company executive.
Rangel is a good example of a career politician who has stayed too long and who comes to believe that rules do not apply to him. He, and others, pass laws they expect citizens to obey but that they themselves are exempt from. They have no fear of accountability. Ego and self-aggrandizement overtake them.
For Rangel to claim a poor memory as a defense for failing to report millions in income, for 17 years, is ludicrous and insulting. A supposedly esteemed lawmaker being investigated for such a failure is no role model for his constituents or anyone else. A slap on the wrist by the Ethics Committee is certainly to be deemed insufficient. I watched the censuring, and Rangel did not seem to be outwardly overwhelmed by the situation. Whatever happened to honesty and integrity?
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole