Members of Congress are shocked that our rating was lowered. What did they think would happen?
The little people like myself want "them" to act responsibly. We want the tax code to be fair for everyone. Why is it that those who make a lot of money a year can get away with not paying certain taxes? If we all paid our fair share, we wouldn't be in this mess.
I haven't seen the "trickle down" theory work yet. Those who have it are keeping it, and those who don't have it are slowly sinking into deeper poverty.
Dee Goldsmith, New Port Richey
No time for a vacation
The U.S. government's AAA credit rating that we have enjoyed since 1917, almost 100 years, is downgraded to AA-plus. The stock market is showing the same signs of instability that it did in 2008.
So what is the reaction of our elected leaders? There is no reaction. Congress is taking its usual August vacation, and the president is busy lining up fundraising events to support his bid for re-election.
Warren Buffett came up with an idea to straighten out our mess: Whenever the deficit is more than 3 percent of gross domestic product, no member of Congress is eligible for re-election.
Donald Kennedy, Largo
Stop the waste
The future of our nation will not depend on anything Standard and Poor's says, nor will it depend on the amount of hateful rhetoric from Washington or its obedient servants in the so-called news media.
Our children will have a future as free men and women only if we refuse to be slaves to any government. This is the truth that has stood the test of time. Socialism has not worked anywhere it has been tried.
We will survive if we listen to the call for government to stop wasting money and rid ourselves of the illegals who are claiming welfare, food stamps and housing at our expense. Is it time to stand up for America and Lady Liberty.
Herbert Stamper, Palmetto
Make jobs a priority
Cutting government spending will cost as many jobs as eliminating the tax breaks would. Already, many able-bodied people have lost their jobs as a result of this shortsighted policy. And many other jobs were never created because states refused funds designed to create them. The jobs created by the "job creators" were in other countries. In America, there is no demand for products because there is no money to spend by out-of-work citizens. With no demand for products, there is no demand for workers.
During the last election cycle, the new candidates who ran for office claimed their basic agenda was to create jobs, but since being empowered they have not issued a single jobs-related bill. They also claimed that government intrusion was too large, but since then have issued voting rights bills, women's reproductive rights bills, union-busting bills, and others directed at negating the safeguards designed to help the middle class.
The Senate minority leader has long claimed that his agenda is making the president fail, not creating jobs, so the failing of the economy fits his personal agenda. Congress' rating is at an all-time low; are any of them working for the people?
Bill Brasfield, St. Petersburg
Digital sign deal is panned | Aug. 5
Driving through a carnival
My area stands to gain by the digital billboards proposal — at least on paper. Two static billboard structures will come down. The closest digital will be at I-275 at 13th Avenue N. Yet I think we're making a mistake signing this agreement.
Both of the signs here are small ones that aren't very well lit. They're not very tall and are easy to miss. Yet their removal counts for six slots (7.5 percent) of the 80 being removed since one of them has a double face and the other has four.
This seems to be true for most of the boards being removed under the agreement. Smaller, poorly sited boards or bare sites are being "traded in" for prime spots that the industry can't get under our current sign code.
What will my area get? A digital billboard at I-275 and 13th Avenue N. It's the only double digital Clear Channel will install here — for now. The agreement opens the door to more companies and more signs.
Other communities haven't been able to hold the line at just a few of these signs because of legal action by the industry. Driving I-10 through Southern California is like a drive down a carnival midway — not an experience we want or that will do much for our sagging property values.
Cathy Wilson, St. Petersburg
Raise the income cap
Now that Congress and the administration have temporarily moved past the crisis phase of the debt limit fiasco, they plan to "tinker" with the Social Security/Medicare funding problem. The good news is that this problem needs to be addressed. The bad news is that neither Congress nor the administration has demonstrated even the most rudimentary ability to do anything constructive.
Most of the discussions focus on reducing benefits to the oldsters who rely on this as a primary source of income and who also have little ability to adapt to cuts.
I keep expecting Congress or the administration to talk about eliminating the cap on Social Security contributions as a less destructive option. Because no Social Security tax is paid on earnings above $106,800, the highest earners pay a smaller portion of their wages for Social Security than most workers. This is just the opposite of our progressive income tax system.
The logical first step toward solving the problem with Social Security funding is to eliminate the cap on contributions and to require everyone to pay at the same rate on all wages. A similar change was made in 1994 to eliminate the cap on earnings subject to the Medicare tax.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Afternoon jaunt raised ruckus | Aug. 6
Lack of respect
Myrtle Rose's pathetic and feeble attempt to make a joke about piloting her antique plane into restricted airspace during President Barack Obama's visit to Chicago for his birthday and a fundraiser is a classic example of how so many people show disrespect with insensitive statements.
The comment, "He should have stayed home and had Michelle bake him a cake," shows a lack of good manners and common sense. The office of the president warrants polite regard and respect.
Frances N. Pinckney, St. Petersburg
Amid halting progress, an awful toll Aug. 9, editorial
There's a lot of truth in the old saying that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.
We are learning the hard way what the British and Russians already learned: that no foreign army can prevail in Afghanistan.
Unlike George W. Bush's trumped-up war in Iraq, there was a valid reason for the United States to go into Afghanistan: It was where Osama bin Laden was training his al-Qaida terrorists. But now that bin Laden is dead, we should pull our troops out of Afghanistan.
The Pentagon's excuse for staying there is that we can't leave until we train the indigenous army to become self-sufficient. Doesn't anybody remember how poorly that strategy worked in Vietnam and Iraq?
James Nelson, Largo
Success hasn't been easy on Zoe Saldana Aug. 9
Don't ridicule depression
In the Juice column, Joshua Gillin quotes statements made to Latina magazine by movie star Zoe Saldana. He reports that Saldana "almost suffered a nervous collapse after Avatar catapulted her to fame." He ends with this statement: "Wow, starring in hit movies such as Avatar and Star Trek, seeing the world and getting engaged to Keith Britton? It's a wonder she can even get out of bed in the morning."
As a person who has dealt with major depression, anxiety and panic attacks for over 20 years, I find these comments extremely insulting. I can't believe that in a newspaper as well respected as the Times, editors find no problem with making light of someone who is having difficulties with mental illness.
Mental illness does not make exceptions for people who are famous, rich, smart, successful or otherwise. In a world where we have successfully eradicated racist, sexist or other such comments considered "politically incorrect" from mainstream media, mental illness is clearly still an open target for ridicule.
Alli Rudes, Wesley Chapel
Enough with politics; time for a good mystery | Aug. 8
A welcome respite
Thanks for this article by Llewellyn King. I cannot agree more. I clipped the article to take with me on my next visit to Barnes and Noble.
Each morning I read my Times with a cup of coffee. This article reminded me of a conversation I have every morning with my wife. I ask if she wants to read the paper, and her answer is a question: "Is there any good news in there?" I answer no, and the paper is tossed into the recycle bin.
In today's climate, give me a good mystery any time.
David C. Cumming, Clearwater
Nuclear plant's cost will be on us | Aug. 5
Passing the buck
It must be nice to have a business that whenever you want to charge more, you do. Just go through the motions of having the Public Service Commission approve it; in most cases it does. Also, if you decide to open a new location, you have your future customers pay for it before you open for business. Then you make them pay to use it.
This what Progress Energy is doing to the residents of Florida, thanks to the wonderful lobbyists and legislators in Tallahassee.
Roland E. Kissinger, Treasure Island