Don't ad to taxpayers' burden | Feb. 1, letter from Senate President Jeff Atwater
No-tax pledge is no real help
People like Senate President Jeff Atwater keep repeating a dogmatic mantra "no tax increases," without thinking about all the ramifications to struggling people.
In a response to a Times editorial, Atwater stated that his pledge of no tax increases is for the benefit of "Floridians who are struggling to buy groceries, pay the mortgage." He says his pledge also "serves small business owners." He chastises the Times for promoting tax increases by eliminating sales tax exemptions and collecting sales tax on Internet sales.
People who are really struggling may not own a computer, and probably aren't buying much over the Internet because necessities such as groceries, mortgages and health care are local.
I personally wouldn't like paying an Internet sales tax, but I'm all for it. I believe it will help bring back commerce to local business owners and increase local employment. These jobs are what struggling Floridians need, not tax breaks on purchases they can't afford to make. Eliminating sales tax exemptions for services such as lawn care, valet parking, sightseeing buses, etc., will tax those who can afford these luxuries.
Atwater's "no-tax" rationale is a fabrication that puts a hardship on the very people he claims to want to help. I'm tired of politicians who answer to lobbyists and campaign donors, and then have the audacity to say they are helping struggling Floridians and local businesses.
Steve Wilson, Safety Harbor
A question of fairness
Jeff Atwater seems to miss the point. He is opposed to taxing Internet sales, which surely is a fairness issue. Retail stores that sell the same items bought online pay taxes and actually hire people. More people working in retail sales would mean more money paid into the unemployment tax discussed in the Times Feb. 2 editorial, Ducking their duties.
The businesses and corporations Atwater protects because they contribute to his causes and election pot are another case of unfairness. Why should these businesses not pay their fair share of sales taxes? No, I'm afraid Atwater is the one who wants "business as usual," the status quo, the same party of "no" that has no vision for the future or for the present.
Frank Carman, Sun City Center
Cupcakes and cluelessness | Jan. 29, Daniel Ruth column
The price of privatization
When hard-working citizens read Dan Ruth's colorful language about the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance, I'll bet many of them think those "bureaucratic feedbags . . . treating their public roles as if they were at a Club Med retreat" represent the effect of Democratic control of government. Isn't this the kind of mismanagement Jeb Bush complained about when he swore to cut Florida government to the bone?
Sorry, folks, it is a far better illustration of how privatization of public services merely ends up costing more money. Workforce Florida Inc. was created by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature with the passage of the Workforce Innovation Act of 2000. Just as they did with child welfare and the prison system about the same time, they established a network of public/private "partners," hoping to run public services "like a business."
Well, you can see what happened. "Like a business" means managers and directors are well paid. They expect and get perquisites that had never been acceptable when they were genuinely civil servants.
I can't say that the work force alliances around the state never helped workers get jobs, but overall it looks a lot like corporate welfare at every level.
Alvin W. Wolfe, Lutz
Small business suffers
I was interested to learn that the proposed jobs bill includes tax credits for the hiring of new employees and purchase of equipment. The issue for my businesses, like many other small business owners, is that one must make a profit to take advantage of tax breaks.
For the past several years none of my businesses have been profitable. While this may be a commentary on my ability to own and manage a business, I believe it is more the result of the weak economy my businesses operate in. As such, tax credits are of no value to me in maintaining a viable company.
Related to this is my inability to obtain financing. For more than 30 years my credit allowed me to obtain loans for both operating and equipment capital. Imagine my reaction when I contacted my business banker, after this major bank received $41 billion in government stimulus funds, to be informed that "the bank was lending money to no one and that funds were to be used to pay down debt, give bonuses, and raise salaries." As such, I have been forced to lay off good employees, employees who are now on unemployment.
Where then is the stimulus for small business?
Robert A. Buchanan, Redington Beach
As fish rot, algae bloom | Feb. 2, story
Fish as fertilizer
Dead fish, by the score. What an important resource and one readily available by the ton and never to be used to anyone's economic advantage.
If algae blooms result from the release of nutrients as in 6-12-12 purchased at Walmart, so would corn, strawberries and citrus bloom and thrive if the same nutrients were applied to their roots.
What ever happened to Yankee ingenuity? We do not seem to mind the inconvenience of digging up all the phosphate rock in Florida, so why should we mind gathering up dead fish (a renewable resource) available by the tons and furnished by none other than Momma Nature.
Harold T. Sansing, Dunnellon
Dems try a quiet push on health bill | Jan. 31
More sneaky tactics
The Obama administration still does not get the message that covert action taken to force health care on his constituents is not going to help him get his bill through. As reported, the bill has been put on the back burner while the Democrats are making a "quiet push" to get it passed. Once again "behind the scenes," they are "plotting a strategy" to ram this bill, which no one I know wants, down our throats.
To hell with transparency, and full steam ahead.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
What are you for?
I had the good fortune the other day of viewing one more time the musical South Pacific. In it the Frenchmen, Emile, asks the American lieutenant, "I know what you are against. What are you for?"
I thought perhaps that this might be an appropriate question for all of us at this critical moment in our history.
Then the follow-up questions are equally important. What are you willing to give in order to achieve these goals? Is this sacrifice to be equitably distributed and, probably most important, are these goals consistent with what our nation espouses to be? It's time to bind the nation's wounds and move on with some sense of common purpose.
Paul Lupone, Spring Hill