Work together to reach big goals
Fifty years ago, Americans woke up to the startling news that Russia had outdone us and sent a man into space. John Kennedy accepted the challenge and proposed that we send a man to the moon within the decade.
American scientists and mathematicians worked together, and with the help of government spending we accomplished that feat. It truly was a time when Americans — and most of the world — felt good about the can-do spirit of the human race. Another time that hard work and shared effort pulled us out of the doldrums was when Americans worked together during World War II, ending the Great Depression.
We can overcome adversity if we try. But in today's tea party's fantasy of no government spending and an unwillingness to pay taxes, I don't think we have the aptitude or attitude to work cooperatively with anyone for any reason except for the pursuit of private personal wealth. And even though there were other advances made by space program technology, some still wonder about the expense of it all.
It seems that our egocentric and shortsighted pursuit of personal wealth has cost us more than a large deficit — it has cost us the means to get out of the hole that we've dug for ourselves.
Bill Brasfield, St. Petersburg
Rocky 100 days for Scott | April 11
Disappointing start for the governor
Although there are other reasons for my disapproval of Gov. Rick Scott, three things stand out.
First is his disapproval of the rail system without consulting anyone about options that would have benefited the state.
Second is his hypocrisy in participating in a 1-mile run to raise awareness for Special Olympics, then hours later signing an executive order cutting state spending for care of disabled Floridians.
And third was his proposal to lay off 6,000 state employees, cut teachers' pay by 5 percent in order for them to contribute to their own pension plans, and then give his agency directors a raise.
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
It's not just him
Perhaps a more relevant headline for Monday's front page would have been, "Rocky 100 days for the state of Florida."
Jack Mangold, Largo
Off to a good start
In contrast to Gov. Rick Scott's rocky political start, we in the Tampa Bay area should be quite impressed so far with our newly elected Tampa mayor, Bob Buckhorn.
He has displayed enthusiasm, professionalism and the willingness to reach out and set a positive tone for his next four years of political office.
I was particularly impressed when he stepped up to the plate last week, addressed the County Commission, and pledged the city and the county would work together to address the needs of the citizens.
Mike Merino, Tampa
Florida in the balance | April 11, commentary
Yachts are taxed
Estus Whitfield makes a common mistake in his article. He states, "If you can afford to buy a skybox or a yacht, you pay no taxes." That is not true for yachts. All yacht sales are subject to the state's 6 percent sales tax, up to a cap of $18,000.
The cap was put in place to stop the loss of tax revenue when people elected to purchase very expensive yachts outside Florida. The cap is in line with surrounding states and actually adds more revenue to the state's coffers.
Last time I checked, $18,000 was better than $0.
Jim Lombardi, Clearwater
It was so refreshing to read Estus Whitfield's message, which is almost the antithesis of what is said by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature.
An educated work force with a clean environment and a satisfactory infrastructure are the attractions of Florida. If we sacrifice them for a few years' profits, they will never be recoverable.
It saddens me to view the impact of the vocal, small political fringe. Loud does not equate to correct.
My family has been here 130 years, and me for 70, so I've seen major changes. Obviously, many problems are national in the making, but we should be able to plot a path back to better days. All it takes is statesmen with vision, not politicians only looking at the next election.
Jim Hunter, Lutz
A progressive budget has been offered by U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. It includes an end to Bush-era tax cuts and a surtax on millionaires and billionaires. It increases the estate tax and eliminates subsidies for oil and coal companies. It eliminates corporate tax loopholes, aims to create a public health insurance option, ends wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and invests $1.45 trillion in job creation, energy, housing and education programs.
This is a positive budget that will actually help Americans.
Susan Hatton, Gulfport
The money isn't there
Two articles appeared side by side Monday, one from Robert Samuelson and the other from Estus Whitfield, on the budget deficit and proposed cuts.
Every article on this subject should start with the following: "We don't have the money." Then we can start the discussion.
Samuelson's warped logic is appalling. He refers to the percentage of citizens who receive "benefits" from the government and includes 46.5 million on Social Security and 42.6 million on Medicare.
These are not benefits. We paid into the programs all of our working lives, without a chance to opt out.
Medicaid and food stamps are also not benefits, they are handouts; the recipients never contributed a single penny to them.
We don't have the money, so cuts must be implemented.
Antonio Suarez, Tampa
Curran, Foster spar over homeless April 10
St. Petersburg City Council member Leslie Curran deserves thanks for having the guts to be assertive about the persistent homeless problem in our beautiful downtown area. This is a real blight on our community.
I had hoped that with the opening of Pinellas Safe Harbor, we would see a decline in the number of people living on our streets, but that is not the case as demonstrated daily by the individuals and their piles of belongings on our streets and in our parks.
Our city has long had a reputation of being too welcoming to the homeless. There should be consequences for breaking laws such as public intoxication and urination. Instead of the revolving door of jail, why not have them pick up trash or clean up City Hall steps?
We should be able to alleviate the deplorable conditions of our historic downtown, especially Williams Park and Mirror Lake.
Shirley O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg