Social Security COLA
Benefit freeze ignores real world
The stage is being set to deny a cost of living increase to Social Security recipients for the second straight year.
What kind of arcane statistics are they using? This year my health insurance was increased by 11 percent on top of 10 percent last year. This combined with my monthly Medicare premium now amounts to 30 percent of my Social Security.
I reside with other seniors in a HUD building. Our rent was increased by $180 this year. How can one branch of the government state that there is no increase in COLA and another branch authorize rent increases?
Anyone shopping in a food market can see the prices being increased almost weekly. I paid $2.50 for a quart of Florida orange juice last year; now it's $2.79. That's a 12 percent increase for one item.
What can be done to make Congress aware of the real world?
John F. Deegan, Clearwater
I always try to be empathetic, informed and patriotic. However, upon reading about the COLA announcement, I am conflicted.
The government is using a system developed in the '70s, disregarding an economic crisis unparalleled since the Great Depression, to determine if Americans who paid into this insurance will get a meager increase.
Last year I was outraged but said to myself, Okay, I'll take one for the team. Today however, when I just pumped gas that has seemingly risen almost 30 cents in as many days, I could only feel outrage. As I opened my power bill and noted the increase, I wondered what witchcraft they used to calculate the COLA.
I understand all those who say that I should not gripe, for they are now paying into that same system that is supporting me; but I paid in too. We have an understood contract with the government, but the government, in too many areas to count, is violating this deal.
Christopher L. Baker, Pinellas Park
'Taj Mahal' courthouse
Remember at the polls
Gov. Charlie Crist should remove every judge who had a hand in planning, procuring and coordinating the construction of this massive embarrassment and theft of funds from the people of Florida. Then every politician involved in the procurement of funds should be impeached. Finally, those at DMS who turned their heads and allowed this to happen should also be removed.
What other thefts have occurred that have not yet come to light? CFO Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum should ensure that people who violated the law are prosecuted.
Employees of the state, who work hard every day to perform their duties in accordance with the law, have not had so much as a cost of living increase in six years. They pay the same taxes and have had the same increases in health care and other cost of living expenses as everyone else.
The judges should not be allowed to move into this building. It should be sold to pay back the citizens of Florida they robbed.
I only hope those going to the polls Nov. 2 remember this. And don't forget all the "heroes" who helped make it happen in the Legislature.
Diane M. Detre, Temple Terrace
'Heartbreak' headline | Oct. 13
I had the television on throughout the night, praying and watching the rescue of the Chilean miners. When I saw your headline this morning, my heart stopped — until I saw it was about a baseball game.
Are your priorities confused? Are you teaching the world we care more about a ball game than rescuing 33 miners or the terror continuing to explode in Afghanistan? Where are your human values? Are your editors confused as to the meaning of life?
As a U.S. citizen, I am embarrassed that an American newspaper reacted as if it puts no value on global tragedies.
Caroline S. Westerhof, New Port Richey
Hillsborough transportation tax
Tax would hurt the poor
While I wholeheartedly support trains and mass transit to reduce both damage to the environment and traffic congestion, the sales tax method of funding disproportionately hurts people of modest means. Indeed, the proposed one-cent surcharge is not only regressive, it is doubly so in that it stops on purchases at $5,000.
For example, if someone earning $20,000 buys a used car for $6,000, they pay an extra $50 in sales tax. If another person earning $120,000 buys a $60,000 vehicle, they also pay an additional $50. This person has six times the income but pays a far lower portion of their income because of the cap.
There are much fairer ways to share the costs of the proposed system and improvements. An increase in fuel taxes, a higher sales tax surcharge on the excess portion of luxury goods, an additional fee on parking, or a small additional fee for second vehicle registrations are just a few ideas, some of which may encourage use of public transit.
Chris Kenney, Tampa
Tax fuel for mass transit
I support the efforts to improve public/mass transportation. However, I think that the method of funding it is flawed, as it has been for many years.
As a homeowner in Tampa, I have wondered for years why we supplement the HART system through property taxes. Taxing our homes does nothing to encourage people to use public transportation.
Now, our governments propose improvements to our mass transit system. The proposal is to increase the sales tax — yet another step which will not encourage people to ride the system. Instead, tax fuel. I realize people are already crying about the price of gas and diesel. However, directly targeting something that may encourage people to utilize the mass transit makes more sense.
This is why the European countries have such a wonderful mass transit system and it is well utilized.
Marc Kaufman, Tampa
Where's the party?
Have there been no celebrations from the Republican Party? If not, why not? The latest job report told us 77,000 government jobs were lost and the private sector added 64,000 jobs.
That sounds like figures right out of the Republican agenda.
Loyal T. Farrell, Safety Harbor
After viewing all the political ads on TV, I have a real problem. I still can't decide which crook to vote for.
Lou Murphy, Kenneth City