Off the cliff, not out of the woods | Jan. 3
Deal does no favors for taxpayers
Our Congress and the president have done us no favors with this so-called agreement. Both parties are still posturing for their own causes rather than acting for the welfare of America. Both parties' plans were about raising taxes, not reducing the debt.
For example, will America still give Egypt, now controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, more than a $1 billion in military aid, all paid for with money borrowed from China. That money could have helped us with health care, education, infrastructure repair, unemployment assistance, etc.
Our $17 trillion debt didn't occur overnight. Even though the Obama administration has run up the debt sharply since taking office, prior administrations for the last half-century, along with Congress, have approved debt increases time and again to further their own ideals and to benefit those who financed their campaigns.
We no longer have a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." America is being literally sold to foreign interests to force us into the new, one-world order of socialism/communism and dependency on Big Brother. It will be a world of equally impoverished people worldwide.
Richard Valentine, Palm Harbor
International itinerary | Jan. 2
An incomplete 'success'
While the success of any venture is measured by return, it seems that a number of key questions were not included in the deemed "rare victory" of landing new international service with Edelweiss flights to Tampa International Airport.
What is the return after factoring in the subsidies spent to secure the new flights? Is it not concerning that a plane flying only four times a month during the majority of the year is still unable to sell more than 63 percent in September or 89 percent in October?
The larger looming question is what return on the taxpayers' investment is being put back into the local economy as a result. The article did not address what percentage of travelers coming into the region on these flights are staying in the area — or, more to the point, how many nights on average they are staying in Hillsborough or Pinellas County hotels vs. those who simply hop in a rental car and drive to Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and points beyond and spend our local tax dollars incentive there. Have there not been surveys for arriving and departing passengers to draw some specifics to better answer this key question? If so, that would be more relevant to the true merits amid all the congratulations going around.
The bottom line is this: What happens when the subsidies paid for from this side are discontinued at the end of the two-year agreement? If they cannot even fill a paltry four flights a month consistently for the majority of the year, is it really a win for the area and the best use of significant marketing contributions totaling close to a million dollars? The nature of operators like this is if a destination in Mexico or the Caribbean offers them the incentive money, the loyalty is shallow and likely will be a losing proposition.
Tom Tilley, St. Petersburg
To idiots: Guns and giddiness don't mix Jan. 3, John Romano column
We can make America safer
Although I agree with John Romano's column in general, I cannot agree with this statement: "As much as some people might want to blame the proliferation of guns in America, the reality is those numbers are not going to change any time soon."
When it comes to gun violence, the proliferation of guns is clearly the problem. A mental patient, a petty thief or an angry neighbor is much less a threat when you take the gun out of the equation.
The NRA spends a lot of its time talking about the Constitution. However, they seldom focus on the fact that the right to bear arms is the result of an amendment to the Constitution. What can be amended once can be amended again. It won't happen if people are convinced it can't happen, so let's start talking about it.
This will not produce quick results. What is needed is a longer view of the problem. Limits on the numbers and types of weapons people can own and the size of magazines they can possess would be a good start. A thorough, no-nonsense background check should be compulsory for any firearms purchase. After all, we already place limits on machine guns and hand grenades, so it's no stretch to limit the kinds and numbers of guns that people can own. It's just common sense.
If we start now, we could make America safe again, if not for us then for our grandchildren. We should stop defending our inaction by claiming nothing can be done. That's not what Americans do.
John Chandler, Largo
19 days of gun deaths in America | Jan. 3
More facts needed
This commentary leaves out many details, so it's just a statement of numbers trying to make a point of someone's agenda.
Here are some facts that were left out that would give a more accurate report on gun deaths and not make it seem like they were all murders.
How many deaths were the result of police shootings?
How many deaths were the result of private citizens protecting themselves or someone else?
How many deaths would have occurred anyway via another weapon if a gun wasn't available?
How many deaths were because someone was not trained in the safe handling of a firearm and shot themselves or someone else?
How many deaths were in Chicago, Washington, D.C., or another place where there are very strict gun laws?
So let's take one nut case who killed 26 people, subtract them and deaths in the above categories, and report that number.
James Molloy, Pinellas Park
All of Tampa Bay is a stage | Jan. 3
Arts are the way forward
The monthlong Shakespeare Festival is just the sort of venture that St. Petersburg leaders should focus on, rather than desperately holding on to a baseball franchise or building a gimmicky pier.
With the right marketing strategy and mix of artistic offerings, St. Petersburg could transform itself into a wintertime playground of the arts, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world to enjoy outdoor amenities during the day and performing venues at night.
And those visitors probably would be looking for more creative dining than hot dogs. When will St. Petersburg stop trying to be more like other cities and start building on its unique strengths? As Shakespeare said, "O, had I but followed the arts!"
Ray Smith, Tampa