Warren Buffett: Quit coddling us uber-rich | Aug. 21
Ten steps to improve the U.S. economy
It was refreshing to read Warren Buffett's column. Finally, a nonpolitician with some credibility is willing to tell it like it is: The country is in financial trouble and we all need to pitch in. The Republican mantra of trickle-down economics and no tax increases doesn't work and never did.
In addition to Buffett's recommendations, I offer the following, which I call the 10 commandments to financial solvency:
1. Eliminate Bush tax cuts on those with taxable income over $500,000.
2. Tax hedge fund managers and private equity investment management fees as ordinary income instead of capital gains.
3. Eliminate tax subsidies to Big Oil, Big Pharma and other highly profitable corporations.
4. Allow Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) to negotiate prices; use VA pricing.
5. Place price controls on all medical services and supplies. Japan, China, Canada, England and France have been doing this for years.
6. Eliminate the income cap on Social Security contributions.
7. Reduce Medicare fraud by hiring accountants and attorneys to prosecute it.
8. Close U.S. military bases overseas and station those troops on our borders.
9. Provide a three-year tax incentive to corporations that create jobs. Bring the outsourced jobs back from overseas.
10. Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately.
Chuck Wolowitz, Largo
Warren Buffett: Quit coddling us uber-rich Aug. 21
Just do it
It is nice to hear that Warren Buffett wants to pay more in taxes and that his friends would also not mind paying more.
There is a simple solution to this: Just do it. There is nothing in the tax code that prevents Buffett or anyone else from paying more than is owed. If he really wanted to.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
A sensible voice
Kudos to Warren Buffett. Here is a man who can really be respected. He is a self-made billionaire who understands how things work.
He is a man who is grateful for the fabulous country he grew up in. He appreciates the opportunities afforded him and now realizes that his great country needs some help from him in the way of higher taxes.
We should listen to Buffett and get on with doing the patriotic thing: raising taxes on the rich and reducing spending. Buffett says "the rich do not need to be protected like spotted owls." Most Americans agree with him.
Joyce Zanone, Parrish
Honor the teachers | Aug. 21
Respect is lacking
Thank you so much for the article about teachers. It was one of the few articles I have seen recently that talks about teachers in a positive light. Teachers today do not get the respect that they did years ago. When I was a student, my parents would have been mortified if I talked back or challenged a teacher's authority.
I was a teacher for almost 30 years. I feel that I was a good teacher and gave my all for my students. I did my best to give them a positive learning experience. Even though I am retired, I keep in contact with former students and some of their parents.
Parents, teachers, students and society as a whole need to work together for the benefit of every student.
I wish students and teachers a very fruitful and successful school year.
Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor
Parents key variable in education equation Aug. 21
It takes cooperation
Bravo for the well researched article by Marlene Sokol exploring the role of parents in formal education. The best outcomes in education depend on a written or unwritten contract between talented, imaginative, motivated and knowledgeable teachers, challenged students and engaged parents.
The job of school boards and administrators is to effectively choreograph and orchestrate this endeavor.
John L. Smith Jr., Tampa
Immigration policy made sensible | Aug. 24, editorial
Illegal means illegal
The idea of refocusing on only those illegal immigrants engaged in criminal activity is a bit of an oxymoron, as being in this country illegally is a crime.
We cannot afford to have illegal immigrants in our country. Our economy is bad shape, with 10 million to 20 million people unemployed. Poverty is on the rise, and there are more people collecting food stamps.
What the editors of the Times don't understand is that illegal immigrants drain resources from citizens in need, particularly the poor and various minority communities.
All illegal immigrants are lawbreakers and because of that they should not be entitled to any services in this country.
Peter Stathis, Spring Hill
Rocky road, quick end | Aug. 24
Look to the board
Several weeks ago I saw an interview with Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen, who was asked why the School Board has been so dysfunctional for years. She had no answer.
The Times has no objection to the superintendent being removed, but this ignores the very poor board members and their decisions.
It looks to me like Janssen did as good a job as could be expected, as the graduation rate and test scores improved.
Bob Kinder, St. Petersburg
Precious dollars misspent
As a school and city volunteer and parent of three Pinellas County students, I must protest the School Board's decision to simply write off nearly $300,000 by dismissing Julie Janssen.
In 2009, the board, by the narrowest of margins, voted to close Gulf Beaches Elementary School as a cost-cutting move. The cost on record of keeping the school open? Just under $300,000.
Is that what our school system is about? Forgoing the needs of nearly 400 children and families and leaving a gaping hole in a tight-knit community, all for the sake of one well-intentioned but clueless "leader"?
Now we must continue to pay for the board's shortsightedness while still driving hundreds of kids to schools in distant neighborhoods.
Gregory Premer, St. Pete Beach