Bankers apologize for crisis | Jan. 14, story
We're not buying bankers' story
So some top banking CEOs asked Congress for forgiveness. So what? Do they expect the American public to buy that? They admit to helping create the mess, then they pay back our bailout money early so they can turn around and pay themselves huge bonuses. And all of us have been hit hard by their endless, skyrocketing fees and penalties, with no end in sight.
They can say, "We realize people are angry out there" and then just go back to business as usual. This is like someone pulling off a deathbed confession after a life of debauchery. I guess it works, but it doesn't inspire respect or admiration.
I would expect more outrage from our president and Congress, but I suppose there is only so much outrage to go around, with the oil, insurance and drug companies all in the mix.
Bob Mathews, St. Petersburg
Follow the money
For those who think we need to "stick it" to those nasty, greedy, big banks, by making them pay a new fee, consider the following:
• If you paid the taxes which generated the money the government gave to banks to bail them out;
• And if government then forces those banks to pay a fee to reimburse the government;
• And the banks, realizing they can't disappoint their shareholders and investors by having a drop in profits, increase the fees their customers pay for their accounts, their checks, their credit cards, etc.;
• And those customers are the same taxpayers who provided the money in the first place;
• Then look in the mirror and ask yourselves, "Who is that moron looking back at me?"
There is, though, a silver lining to this dark cloud: Almost 45 percent of Americans pay no taxes. This then becomes a way to make them do so. If you're one of those people and believe what the government did is good, don't you feel like you've just been suckered by those Congress-critters who voted for this?
Vilmar Tavares, Spring Hill
Haiti relief efforts
It was pleasant to hear that record contributions are being donated to the Haiti relief efforts despite Rush Limbaugh's urging people not to contribute because Americans already donate to Haiti through their income taxes. How sad!
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Limbaugh: Don't give | Jan. 15
White House was the target
About a third of the adults in the Tampa Bay area listen to Rush Limbaugh's radio program every weekday. We therefore know that he did not urge people to withhold donations to the relief efforts for Haiti.
Rush recommends avoiding the White House Web site donation gimmicks that will be used for political purposes and which incur a lot of overhead. We send enough money to Washington as taxes. Instead, donate directly to the Red Cross or other reputable charity that has a Haiti-specific fund.
Gerry Puterbaugh, Seminole
Robertson sees devil's hand | Jan. 14, story
For the Rev. Pat Robertson to say that Haiti had the devastating earthquake because of a "pact with the devil" is the most uncaring and insensitive remark a person could make.
A true Christian knows that God always trumps the devil.
Betty Cullen, St. Petersburg
Front-page photo from Haiti | Jan. 15
Respect the dead
I opened my paper Friday morning and was disgusted at what I saw. Why do we need to see all these dead bodies while I know this is part of the news after the earthquake? Do we have to disrespect the dead in this manner? And what about the families of these people? I bet they would not have given permission to let their loved ones be used this way.
I have been a customer of the Times for two years now and this not the first time I have seen this kind of thing your paper. I hope in the future that you have more respect for the dead than was shown Friday morning.
James Wilson, Tampa
Fatal wounds for the death penalty | Jan. 10, Robyn Blumner column
In this column, Robyn Blumner explains well two of three common fallacies about the death penalty.
From my years with Amnesty International, I can tell you that people who care to look at the facts have long known that it costs way more in legal expenses to execute a person than to keep him in prison for life, and also that too often we still execute the wrong person.
The third fallacy is that the death penalty is an additional deterrent. Few violent crimes are committed based on deliberation as to whether there is risk of life in prison or death. And even if it were some deterrent, what would that mean? So then public amputations might do so even more.
The heart of the matter is simply that murder is wrong (unless a person is compelled by self-defense or war). Premeditated murder is more unforgivable than crimes of passion, and especially so when done with deliberation by our governments.
Henry Holt, Treasure Island
"Golden years" are a thing of the past Jan. 10, Bill Maxwell column
Working in retirement
This column really hit home with me. I am one of the those seniors who still need to work into my Social Security years. My husband's death in 2007 after two years of health problems, plus at the same time trying to sell our home to downsize, put us into an economic downspin. We always managed to have health coverage for both of us. I was able to emerge from that period and am rebuilding my new life, basically debt-free.
I have seasonal employment to supplement my Social Security and small Florida Retirement System Income (I am a retired teacher). Because of that employment, I pay IRS and FICA taxes and also taxes on my Social Security and on my FRS pension. I also pay for the part of Medicare that isn't covered by the federal government through Secure Horizons.
I don't know what we working retirees are contributing to today's dollars, but at least we have a few dollars to go out to a restaurant once a month.
Thank you for your always good thoughts.
Rose Marie Tanner, Largo
In a different world
The government has declared that the cost of living did not go up. Therefore, there will be no increase in the Social Security benefits this year.
I'm an 80-year-old widower living on a small pension and Social Security. My rent has gone up and utility costs are up. My medical insurance has gone up, also my cost for food. My transportation costs are up, along with many other things.
I don't know what world the government is living in, but it's sure not the world I live in. Millions of senior citizens are also living in my world.
Larry R. Nielsen, Largo
I-4 sink holes
Isn't Interstate 4 the proposed route for high- speed rail? Maybe they should reconsider.
Since the geologists are now saying these sink holes could be caused by the farmers pumping all that well water to protect their crops from the cold, maybe you should look at how many golf courses we have in the area and how much water they are pumping.
Charlie Bennett, Hudson
Help wanted | Jan. 3, story
People behind the numbers
Thank you for this article. It is important for us to be able to put a name and face on the people who are struggling to find work as well as realize the creativity shown in trying to make ends meet.
My daughter was featured in the article and has already received a number of inquiries. I hope the same is true for all the other people.
B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg