There's no reason to panic
Some 93 percent of us are still working, still earning and still living fine. The price of gas has gone down 50 percent and most of us are not going to lose our homes or our jobs. We still pay $100-plus each month for cable TV, most have two cars in the driveway and there is no shortage of cell phones, laptops and iPods. So how is this like the Great Depression?
We are bombarded by media daily saying, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" The stock markets swing back and forth. But I have not seen people jumping from buildings or any "Hoovervilles." There are many struggling and some are losing their homes. I feel for them, but there is always a group that struggles and makes poor decisions. And for the most part the rest of us carry on.
We need to stop this spiral down. Keep working and doing your job. Continue to support your barber, grocery store and the other businesses you have come to trust and rely on. Do not waste money or spend wastefully, but buy what you need and stop hoarding. Keep the economy going as we always have. We can best get out of this by doing what we always do: Work hard and take care of our families and stop running in panic.
We live in the most powerful country in the world and we live far better than most of the rest of the world. If you doubt that just look at how many people try to cross our border each night, or leave family and country and risk floating on a leaky raft or oil drum across open ocean to get here. These people know the true meaning of depression and hardship.
Those of you in the press, please continue to report the news but try to temper some of the sensationalism and look for some positive news to report. I for one will be happy to buy the paper and read about it.
Peter Hicks, Tampa
A little optimism needed
I used to love to listen to talk radio, watch the talk shows on television and read the newspapers, but I can't do that anymore: It's too depressing.
I realize better than anyone that the economy is down because I lost my job two months ago, but should I just swallow a bottle of pills and walk into the ocean? I'm better than that and I'm not the only one.
My parents and millions of others suffered through the Depression then had to go and fight in wars when that was over. And they're still here, thank God, and so am I, because of their hard work and determination. Fortunately, they didn't have the kind of media back then that told them every day how horrible things are and how much worse they're going to get.
If all you think about and talk about is misery, then that's what you're going to get.
How about a word of optimism from all the talk show hosts, editors and newspaper op-ed writers? You profit from the masses yet you seem determined to bring them down. We could use a few good words right now, and if everyone would just shut up about the economy and let us get back to work, we could fix this thing in due time.
Bob Deakin, Altamonte Springs
Living in the Depression
Recently my 92-year-old mother sent me two letters describing how her family survived the Great Depression in a small North Carolina town. These are edited excerpts:
"The Sheriff's Office scared us for delinquent county taxes. We paid them off at once. This was … 1937 or 1938, but we were still meeting expenses. We were grateful for the birds and rabbits my brother Robert hunted in nearby fields.
"My father was 'tickled pink' when he got a job as timekeeper with the WPA (Works Progress Administration). When he died in 1934, our relatives in South Carolina sent us lots of food in a wooden cheese box. For a while the family had to depend on what Robert made as a paperboy for the Greensboro Daily News.
"Uncle Park Pridgen continued to bring us milk even when we couldn't afford to pay him. He kept his cows across the street from his house in a big barn rented from a neighbor who had a steady job as head of the county prison farm. Despite the Depression, people lived on. We also had a farmer friend who brought the most delicious honey. Mama was always able to scrape up a few pennies for flour. I remember when Robert, Mama and I enjoyed a rabbit and, later, a nice four-robin pie.
"Aunt Ella's sisters migrated North (Boston). She sent their children's good but outgrown clothes down South to depressed Warsaw, N.C. Aunt Ella's girls shared some nice dresses with me. Aunt Louise gave me nice items, too. She was the only one of the Pridgens who had a job, teaching school.
"During the worst of the Depression in North Carolina, some schools had to close, so cousin Annie Louise had to return and eat with the other children. Her solution was to marry her longtime boyfriend, Rodney. He worked for his father, whose business held up despite the economy."
What is in store for us this time?
Bettie A. Kreplick, Dunedin
Corporate tax cut would be real stimulus Dec. 9, letter
Cost cuts not guaranteed
The letter writer's argument fails, in that it assumes an unproven premise. Specifically he states that if corporate taxes are reduced or eliminated, the price of products of the corporation will be reduced. This assertion is unsupported, and by my experience, unlikely.
The duty of the corporation is to maximize shareholder value. A windfall such as a drastic reduction in corporate tax rates would increase profit, and would be enjoyed by the shareholders, but no mechanism guarantees that it would have any effect on the price of the products or services of the corporation. Supply and demand would be unaffected, and all producers would receive the same advantage, so no downward pressure on prices has been identified.
Mark Harris, St. Petersburg
Corporate tax cut would be real stimulus Dec. 9, letter
No help on employment
A corporate tax cut wouldn't likely create job growth because "waste, mismanagement and corruption" are rampant in both corporate and government institutions. Corporations wouldn't do any better with this "gift tax" than they have under current Bush tax breaks.
Just as happened with lending institutions, businesses would hoard the funds for already needed working capital, and to supplement executive compensation, while offering lower wages and fewer benefits, knowing that with so many other job seekers in the same dire straits, workers will have lower salary expectations.
It would better serve American business interests to have Congress review tariff laws and renegotiate "fair" trade agreements. Also, corporate America cannot be competitive in the global marketplace while shouldering the high costs of employee health benefits; a national health care plan should be a priority.
Surely President-elect Barack Obama recognizes the change we need goes beyond the failed corporate motto: "We love profits so we won't hire American workers."
We cannot afford any more bailouts. They breed sellouts and buyouts, but mostly cop outs. Ultimately, they become nothing more than handouts.
Ron Rae, Spring Hill
Where are price rollbacks?
I am sure that everyone is well aware that as the price of oil and gasoline increased over the past couple of years, the prices at the grocery stores, restaurants, fast food outlets, auto parts stores, clothing stores, pool supply stores, etc., also increased. The standard explanation was the increase in gas prices affected delivery prices.
Has anyone else noticed that the gas prices are less than half what they were six months ago, but none of the outlets previously mentioned have rolled their prices back? If the price increases actually started with the delivery services, then the rollback should also start there.
I noticed that the price of oil is again on the rise, so I guess that we can expect another increase in all living expenses. Thus a few more bucks to grace the bonus checks of those at the top of the food chain.
Wouldn't it be nice if someone in power would pick up that drum to beat? Maybe after the wedding? No? Then we have a honeymoon and by the end of the honeymoon oil prices will be back up to their high point and the matter will again be moot.
Milton Bronson, Largo
Crist's trip to Europe pricey | Dec. 8, story
With respect to Gov. Charlie Crist, I fail to see sacrifice when it comes to "fiscal responsibility." If the report is true and considering the state of the Florida economy, we have a problem at the state level. It is not clear to me if the $30,000 the governor paid toward his expenses contributed to the "first class tickets," room service and minibar tabs. The bottom line is that his "budget" was exceeded by an excessive amount, which demonstrates he is not "budget minded."
What happened to all the "real time" electronic/video conference tools corporations have used for years to cut costs of travel? I'm fed up with corporate greed and I see it has infiltrated our state leaders.
Milton Anderson, Hudson
Houses for immigrants
Everyone agrees that the excess supply of housing is what is driving prices downward. In my opinion, the best way to solve that problem is through legal immigration (as opposed to illegal immigration).
People who have enough cash and meet certain other criteria would be granted a work-permit to get into the United States if they committed to renting or buying a single-family home within two months of arrival. If they can demonstrate self-sufficiency and not be a burden on society after three to five years, they would receive a green card.
Not only would the housing surplus get mopped up, the new immigrants would require products and services, thereby increasing demand in our weak economy.
Thomas Rask, Seminole
Water conservation the key | Dec. 6, editorial
It's people, not the plants
I read this editorial with great interest and encouragement. I was a participant at the water congress representing the nursery and agricultural industry.
One of the items in your editorial reflects a growing trend and I think does not adequately address the real problem. You noted that outdoor water use constitutes about 50 percent of the potable demand of many homes. That is true. You also suggest a fix is to use native and drought-tolerant plants.
I think this is an oversimplification of the problem. First, there is no reason to suspect native plants require less water than exotic plants. In fact University of Florida research says that native or nonnative is irrelevant in water need.
The second issue is drought-tolerant plants. I have been in the nursery business for more than 30 years and I am not sure what a drought-tolerant plant is. This is especially significant since almost all landscapes are made up of a mixture of plants and they each have different water requirements even though they may be similar.
The problem is the people who water the plants, not the plants. Most often there is no relationship to plant water needs and how people operate their irrigation systems. People greatly overwater for no good purpose and without apparent reason. Money governments spend on landscape ordinances would be far better spent on adopting sufficient irrigation design standards and enforcing them. That would conserve the most outdoor water use.
And don't forget reclaimed water. St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are models for effective utilization of reclaimed water in the United States. We need the rest of the state to follow their lead.
Still there is no need to waste reclaimed water and we should have efficient irrigation systems operated by educated gardeners, regardless of the water source. That is true water conservation.
Hugh Gramling, Seffner
That's a real croc | Dec. 7, Floridian story
Leave these beasts alone
I'm glad to hear that the American crocodile's population is rising in Florida. However, it saddens me because of people's ignorance that it results in capture and removal of these crocs to a strange location. It's sad to see that just because these reptiles have "crocodile" for their name people automatically recall ominous images of their cousins in Africa and Asia, infamous for eating people and hunting giant beasts, turning rivers red with blood.
Not only are the American crocs beautiful and rare but they also are passive and even more shy than their counterpart, the American alligators. If these reptiles are so shy that not a single report of an attack by a croc in Florida has been made, why should we try to remove them from their habitat?
Jun Moon, Tampa
We from the Sunshine State should vigorously promote solar-energy use: solar panels on all new buildings (also hurricane shutters) and use of thermal heat for swimming pools.
It was a thrill for me to use solar Christmas lights for the first time this year. Only a two-hour charge (eight hours suggested) started my lights, which have been blinking ever since.
We can light the world with solar power. Please encourage the governor to lead the charge. Begin with solar cars to use with the hybrids. (I bought a 2001 Prius and an update 2005.) We can save ourselves.
Josephine D. Houck, Belleair