The rare times tax cuts actually helped | July 3
In the past, we paid for our wars
What's in common with the cuts that actually helped is that they all began when the highest rate was at or over 70 percent. Today, the highest tax rate is only 35 percent.
What produced the 70 percent-plus tax rates was the financing of World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts. The subsequent postwar booms decreased the need for revenue, and taxes were cut. However, no such tax increases were enacted to fund the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya. Instead, the country experienced major tax reductions.
Now, as the national deficit has accelerated, instead of relying on the traditional tax increases that should have occurred concurrently with our international conflicts, we are hearing that our social programs must be cut.
Americans need to speak out now and vote at the next election to keep their homes and secure higher real wages, affordable medical programs and dependable retirement benefits before the Republicans suck them away with phony economic programs and elitist politics.
Stuart Berney, Tampa
Seeing a person, not just a group | July 10
What Palestinians mean by peace is key question
Ivan Penn's story about Palestinian nonviolent activists was half a story. He told us about their means — nonviolence — but very little about their goals.
They say they seek "peace" — but what do they mean by peace? Do they mean the right of Israel to live in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state that is committed to a permanent peace? Or do they mean a cessation of Israeli security actions that would leave Israel's less "nonviolent" neighbors free to resume the terrorist rampages that killed and maimed thousands of Israelis during the intifada?
They seek an end to "occupation." Does that mean presence of Jews on the West Bank; is it their presence in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv? Do they seek an influx of millions of Palestinians into Israel to obliterate the Jewish state, while at the same time claiming the right to drive out every Jew from the lands they wish to claim for a Palestinian state?
In order to understand how their nonviolence differs from the violence that they claim to renounce, we really need to know what they are trying to accomplish.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Real Palestinian faces
Thanks to stories by Ivan Penn and photographs by Willie J. Allen Jr. (Seeing a person, not just a group and A long road to understanding), people who have not been to the occupied Palestinian territories were able to see the real faces of Palestinians and learn about their struggle for freedom.
Over the past three years, I have visited Palestine, traveled throughout the occupied territory and spoken with ordinary Palestinians. When I speak to people in the United States who have never been there, I am surprised at their lack of information. Israel and its advocates in the media promote fear and discourage visits to the West Bank.
Unless you see firsthand the restrictions, the degrading humiliation, the privation and loss of freedom of Palestinians living under a brutal occupation, it is difficult for Americans to imagine.
More than four decades of occupation have turned Palestinian resistance to nonviolent strategies that prove more productive and increasingly attract more Israeli Jews and international supporters. Yet Israeli forces meet peaceful demonstrators with violent retaliation, resulting in injuries.
These articles deserve praise for opening the door to what goes on behind the walls and checkpoints, allowing Americans to see Palestinians — Muslims and Christians — as ordinary people with a desire for the freedoms we as Americans enjoy.
Doris Norrito, Largo
An urgency for the EPA | July 10, Robyn Blumner column
Protect us from polluters
Robyn Blumner makes a good case in this column, but unfortunately the points are probably wasted on today's audience. Most of today's readership was born too late to fathom what was going on back when the Environmental Protection Agency was founded. At that time, we were wallowing in ignorant bliss, unaware that our environment was rapidly going to pot.
One must give President Richard Nixon credit for listening to facts and scientific expertise that led to the establishment of the EPA. An examination of our environmental history 40 years ago will note that waste products of an industrial revolution gone wild were increasingly inundating us. The establishment of the EPA to combat this problem was a no-brainer.
Since the EPA's inception, there has always been a struggle with illegal polluters whose crackpot excuses cloud the issue of environmental protection. With only a few exceptions, the private sector has never committed itself to the proposition that public health and welfare and a clean environmental is a benefit, not a liability.
Harold T. Sansing, Dunnellon
Yellowstone River oil spill
Keep eye on environment
It was disturbing that the Casey Anthony trial and spinoff articles occupied the front page and large parts of the rest of Section A for several days while the Yellowstone River oil spill ended up in short pieces on pages 2A and 3A.
People became sick from the pollution, and there was a significant discrepancy between Exxon Mobil's estimate of the extent of the spill and that of Montana's governor. Please give serious environmental threats higher priority.
Kathryn Dorn, Tampa
Arts lead to achievement
As budgets for arts education in public schools are being cut nationwide, it is important to revisit the importance of these programs for our children.
Performing arts can help a student succeed. Reading plays out loud and re-enacting dramatic scenes can improve literacy and comprehension. Singing, piano and dance increase self-esteem and eye and hand coordination.
I have seen these dramatic results in my own child. It is my opinion as a parent that the arts in any form can make your children better students and will give them the additional tools needed for higher achievement as they progress through life.
David R. Simpson, St. Petersburg