Say on pay good day for 99 percent | April 22, Robyn Blumner column
Root causes of economic malaise
After reading her latest column, my first thought was: What country is Robyn Blumner living in? Does she really believe that America is an unfair society and that our traditional promise that hard work and effort will lead to success is at best a cruel illusion? Does she truly believe that raising taxes on the top 10 percent of Americans, who already pay 70 percent of federal income taxes, will somehow magically stem the erosion of the middle class?
None of these beliefs stand up to analysis. While there are problems in corporate America that need to be addressed, the root cause of our economic malaise is centered in four areas: We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world; our tort system is the most adversarial among our trading partners; our K-12 school systems are not globally competitive; and our regulatory environment is straight out of a Kafka novel.
These factors have much more to do with the loss of high-paying jobs that underpin the middle class than the silly class warfare remedies proposed by the left. President Barack Obama's own debt commission recognized these problems and offered commonsense centrist solutions. The sooner we embrace and implement their recommendations, the better. Until then, all this talk of 99 percent or 1 percent is just a silly and dangerous distraction.
John Kriegsmann, Land O' Lakes
Century of progress
I was unaware of how terrible conditions have become in this country because of capitalism. Thanks to Robyn Blumner for pointing out to us how much worse off we all are now, including the poor, than we were 100 years ago, when we had no decent medicine, safe transportation, Internet, air conditioning, or any other such nonsense. I guess the fact that some people have gotten more rich than others means that we did something very wrong. Oh, for the days of candlelight and stagecoaches, when we were all equally less well off!
In the words of Winston Churchill, "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." I think we know which vice Blumner has chosen.
Chris Johnson, Clearwater
Who are the 99 percenters? After reading Robyn Blumner's article, I was left with the impression that the 99 percent is filled with minimum wage earners, roofers and home health aides. Then I did some research. Depending on whom you believe, the 1 percent starts with people who make more than $350,000 per year. That means those making between $250,000 and $350,000 are within the 99 percent.
I'm not sure I've seen any of that group protesting anywhere. And I'm not sure it's fair to include them with the minimum wage earners. It's time that we stopped using objectively incorrect labels.
It's also time to stop suggesting that hard work doesn't mean more income. While there will always be a "get rich quick" crowd, whether on Wall Street or buying lottery tickets, hard work is the key to success for most. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible and encourages an improper Robin Hood mentality.
There's been too much focus on the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. I think we should focus on the 54 percent versus the 46 percent. Who are the 46 percent? They are the people who pay no income tax. Perhaps the 54 percent are the ones who should be protesting.
Michael Markham, Clearwater
Apologies can't heal all wounds April 22, Bill Maxwell column
Forgiveness is a start
Reading a litany of atrocities on a Sunday morning must have a point. If apologies can't heal old wounds, Mr. Maxwell, then what would you have us do? Publicly and officially making amends serves a useful purpose because it calls attention to heinous acts and to their tragic consequences.
But that is only the beginning. There is responsibility not only upon both sides involved, but also upon all of us who watch and listen, to learn from them. And to forgive — holding onto anger and resentment accomplishes nothing. This would be a message of hope instead of a message of resignation and resentment. Public apologies alone may not heal, but looking within might.
Eileen Flaxman, Wimauma
Those who teach, also can do April 22
Following a script
I concur with professor Joan Kaywell's assertion that with so much of the classroom scripted and standardized, "teaching" has been taken out of teaching. I am a licensed mental health counselor, and too many of my clients are parents whose children are dealing with overwhelming stress and pressure from teachers and principals of the Hillsborough County school district.
Learning, like eating, cannot be forced. Students, parents and teachers are not circus performers to be "trained" to perform to the script.
Education policy is trickle-down from the federal government. By the time it gets to the classroom the student and teacher have no leeway. There is no longer an opportunity to teach — regardless of how good a teacher you may be.
We cannot go backwards to the innocence of my school years — nor should we want to. However, we can give voice to our belief in good people who do love to teach and are good at it. Rather than pass another law, create another agency, or some other nonsensical idea that has nothing to do with teaching or learning, perhaps we can look at models that work such as Alfred Adler Elementary School in St. Petersburg, a charter school. Let us not ignore the successes.
M. Jim Teixeira, Tampa
100 days | April 22
Florida's wild beauty
Thank you, Jeff Klinkenberg, for your spectacular report of Carlton Ward's 1,000-mile journey.
It takes me back to when I moved to Florida in 1957. Our neighbors owned a cabin on the Homosassa River, and there I learned about the real Florida, its subtle seasons, and its wild beauty. Your story reminds me of each trip I make now across Florida on State Road 70 to visit my sister in Palm Beach County. The drive takes me through the perfect beauty of the ranches. It also takes me past too many dead animals.
I hope your report helps remind those in control of what happens to Florida how important it really is to maintain and expand the wildlife corridor.
Judy Hess, Palm Harbor