We must raise taxes, cut spending | May 1
Don't reward the irresponsible
I agree with much of what David Stockman proposes. However, I am alarmed at the prospect of means-testing Social Security. Social Security needs to be reduced, period. Those with equal payments to the system over their lives should receive the same (reduced) payments, in order to help balance the budget and put the system on a sound footing, irrespective of other income or "means."
To do otherwise is simply to reward those who have spent a lifetime living extravagantly and refusing to save for their own future. Those of us who lived somewhat modestly watched in wonder as others of similar income bought sport utility vehicles, better houses, etc., while we saved. Must we now look forward to a future in which our benefits are reduced relative to theirs because they have no "means" and we have earnings from a lifetime of savings?
I am dismayed by a seemingly never-ending series of government actions and proposals that have the effect of punishing the responsible and rewarding the thoughtless, of which the quintessential examples are the bailing out of the banks and auto companies and then "aiding" the homeowners who would have been better served by allowing their lenders to fail.
To provide some safety net for those unable to care for themselves for reasons beyond their control is one thing. (Although I'd prefer that, as a nation, we would "put our money where our mouths are" and voluntarily provide for the needy through charity instead of government.) But we've moved beyond caring for the needy. Today, we punish both the needy and the conscientious, and reward the flagrantly irresponsible.
Gerard Oberle, Palm Harbor
We must raise taxes, cut spending | May 1
Benefits flow to the top
David Stockman's critique of the Robin Hood-in-reverse policies, beginning with the Reagan administration he served, saliently evaluates the fundamental problems of tax cuts and the resulting bubbles, crashes and deficits.
However, he fails to point out that 80 percent of the total economic growth over the past three decades has accrued to just the top 1 percent of earners. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant.
The top 1 percent have also enjoyed tax cuts that have saved them each millions over the past decade. It is not "picking on the rich" to tax the top more — that's where the money is. The rest of us have been going broke for the past 30 years.
Robert White, Valrico
Vertebrates are animals that have backbones. Very few politicians in Tallahassee seem to possess one. Rather than being insightful and forward-thinking, most legislation seems to fit in the part of legislators' brains involved concerned with "will this vote help to get me re-elected."
Paramount in this thinking is the no-new-taxes mantra. This thinking has gone on for so long that legislators have simply gone to other, more painful revenue sources. Have you purchased an auto tag lately, or written a check to a state university? And the Legislature recently robbed revenue by modifying the Florida Retirement System.
When everyone shares the financial burden, the burden is manageable. When we hide behind slick, deceptive fee increases, the robbing of pension funds and rely on gambling revenue, we are simply pushing our shared responsibility off on a much smaller group of people who cannot bear the entire burden.
Randy C. McGonegal, Palm Harbor
Snooki the American | May 1
How far we've fallen
This column should be required reading for everyone who cares about America and where it is going. Peggy Noonan has captured the problems we have created for ourselves.
This is not an Obama, Bush, Clinton or Democrat/Republican problem. It is ours.
We the people created it by ignoring it for so long, hoping it would go away or that "someone else" would fix it.
If it ever is to be turned around, and we again become a people to be proud of, it is up to each of us to start doing something about it.
Stop accepting trash on your TV and computers. Stop paying to see movies that are little more than pornography.
Or else just accept that, as Noonan wrote, we are Jersey Shore.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
The picture on Page 5A on May 4 shows Saul Lopez holding a sign saying, "America was created by immigrants."
The true statement is "America was created by legal immigrants," and I think most legal Americans are waiting for our legislators to do the right thing and call illegal immigrants exactly what they are, illegal, and require them to apply for residency here as the millions of legal immigrants have done in the past.
Jerry Shirer, New Port Richey
Dedicated public service
Former Hillsborough County administrator Pat Bean gave over 30 years of her life to the citizens only to be denied, in the end, her due process.
What many citizens don't understand is that the County Commission has three primary functions. Its primary function is to review the services the county is expected to provide, adjust the accounts that support those services and then approve the county budget. Once the budget is approved and the millage rate is determined, it is given to the administrator to administer the plan. The budget does not come back to the County Commission unless one of the accounts in the approved budget is exceeded and adjustments are needed to be made. The County Commission has no authority in the day-to-day operation of county government.
When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded its investigation, it found that Bean had not violated the law; however, she had already been terminated for giving her senior staff a raise, including herself, because of the added responsibilities due to personnel cuts to balance the budget. What is key is that she did not exceed her budget account for salaries. Therefore, it is my opinion that the commission acted in error.
James D. Selvey, Hillsborough commissioner, 1985-1992, Brandon
Osama bin Laden
Release the pictures
President Barack Obama refuses to release the pictures of Osama bin Laden because he doesn't want to offend anyone. We just killed the most important villain in the Muslim world, a hero to millions, and he's afraid that a picture is going to kindle their jihadist fervor?
Killing they'll forgive, but a picture means war? Give me a break.
Jim Horton, Land O'Lakes