The chicken … and the reg | April 24
Regardless of party, politics is all about money
Alex Leary's column should be mandatory reading, although not for its emphasis on food safety, as important as that is. It is because he points out that redundancy in government is not a philosophy, it is politics. His point extrapolates to all government spending: "The various jurisdictions over the decades have created pockets of power that attract campaign contributions."
And that's it in a nutshell, isn't it? It's not about promoting the general welfare, providing for the common defense, or promoting the blessings of liberty. It's about money, and the current politicos know how to get it. And as in so many things these days, the American people are powerless to change it.
I am neither a Republican, tea partier, liberal nor Democrat. All those labels are meaningless except for raising money from special interests. Every politician, no matter the political label, does it.
What is meaningful is that our politics are corrupt, our government doesn't work, and the institutions that built our country have grown bloated if not obsolete. Maybe we will fix this mess when we run out of options not to.
Peter D. Klingman, Tampa
It's 2026 and the debt is due | April 24
Building a terrible burden for those who follow
Thanks to N. Gregory Mankiw for warning the American people of the dangers of this horrendous debt hanging over our heads. He is one of the few people willing to make us think about what a horrible burden we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
Unfortunately, our politicians — especially President Barack Obama and the Democrats/progressives — don't see the danger or are unwilling to face it.
I know some politicians want us to believe that everyone doesn't have an equal opportunity to succeed, but I don't believe it for a minute. The problem is, they keep stealing money from education, therefore dumbing down our children and preventing them from seeing the importance of education and self-reliance as their ticket to a better life.
I'm glad I'm a senior citizen, because I was there when America was the greatest, most envied country in the world. The people made it so by their ambition and self-reliance.
Carol Heister, Safety Harbor
Don't forget tax cuts …
Gregory Mankiw's 2026 president omitted the biggest contributor to our post-1980 debt problem: tax cuts.
In the three decades prior to 1981, our presidents managed to keep our debt nearly constant when adjusted for inflation. During those three decades, our national debt, measured in 2008 dollars, was just slightly more than $2 trillion, and those presidents managed this while financing Social Security, Medicare and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
You might expect that in 2008 the debt would still be close to $2 trillion (in year 2008 dollars). Wrong. It was about $10 trillion. It would have been more but for the heroic efforts of one president who managed to achieve a budget surplus in 2000. Where did that added $8 trillion debt come from? Irresponsible tax cuts. Two presidents slashed income taxes for no good reason. One of them also started two unfunded wars.
Jack Gregg, Largo
… and defense spending
Gregory Mankiw's article presents a theme strikingly similar to those found in "doomsday" movies. I can almost hear Morgan Freeman giving this speech.
What appears to be missing in this speech, however, is any mention of defense spending having any impact on the "crisis."
To address merely Social Security, Medicare and other social services as the culprits in this "doomsday" scenario is unfair and irresponsible.
Steve J. Sarang, Clearwater
Root of a catchphrase | April 24
In your analysis of the phrase "Washington does not have a revenue problem; Washington has a spending problem," you correctly trace its origins to Ronald Reagan.
Sadly, in your last sentence you stumbled by saying Reagan's "tax cuts did not shrink the debt." True, but what you overlooked was the incredible spending increases of that era.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
Grocery stories | April 27
Keep to the perimeter
Janet Keeler's food writing is always compelling, but too bad her grocery stories didn't include the most important and healthful food-finding pattern: Shop the perimeter. It's there that our overweight population will find the produce, low-fat meat and dairy, and fish selections that will help us conquer our alarming obesity.
Of course we sometimes need staples such as canned goods, grains and cleaning supplies. But I leave my cart at the ends of the aisles and dart down only the aisles that support a healthy lifestyle — not the ones with the soda, chips or sugary cereals.
Linda Schatz, Tampa
Obama's birth certificate
President Barack Obama is right that he has more important things to worry about than the silliness of the birther issues, but it's not three wars or a failed economic plan. The president had to get on Air Force One to tape the Oprah show and then attend Democratic fundraisers in New York.
I think America has a pretty good idea of what Obama's priorities are: not the future of America but the future of his presidency.
James F. Dahmer, Tampa
Our state is going down a rabbit hole | April 24, Robyn Blumner column
The cuts are coming
Robyn Blumner rides Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland horse hard — and puts it away wet. Her heart-pounding steeplechase across the moors of GOP-dominated Florida politics is sure to thrill the liberal gallery. For my own summer reading, I prefer Poe's Pit and the Pendulum.
The social democracy welfare state lies strapped to a board over a pit. Cold-eyed conservative inquisitors in Tallahassee have fashioned a legislative swinging scythe high over the victim. With each sweep toward 2012, the blade inexorably drops closer to the victim's heart. Poe's story illuminates what horror truly is: not the physical pain of sacrifice, but the terrible realization that the welfare state has no choice but to die. I'm rooting for the scythe.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg