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Tuesday letters: Another blow to the middle class

Citizens hike exceeds cap | Sept. 24, story

Another blow to the middle class

How very nice that our state insurance commissioner, Kevin McCarty, sees fit to give Citizens Property Insurance an average 10.3 percent rate increase when they requested 9.7 percent. I wonder if McCarty has any idea what that means for many of us who were given no choice but to go into Citizens.

We have lived in our home for 15 years, and it is not in a flood zone. Fifteen years ago our private insurance premium was $600. It is now $3,576. I did some figuring, and a 10 percent increase will add $358 to my annual Citizens premium. This is not chump change. This is more than my monthly car payment or my monthly food bill for two people. It is 9 percent of my annual disposable income after federal taxes.

Insurance companies are some of the wealthiest companies in America; even in hurricane years they report stellar profits, and they continue to push more and more hard-working Americans out of the middle class with their constantly rising premiums.

My spouse and I are retired and living on a fixed income. When I add health and auto insurance premiums we pay to the Citizens premium, I calculate that 21 percent of our disposable income goes to insurance companies. We have invested in energy-saving appliances, turned up the thermostat, use coupons at the grocery store, and cut down on eating out. The only things left to cut for us are our subscription to the newspaper and cable TV.

Alex Sink and Rick Scott both hope to be the next governor. In Sink's case, she wants to cap increases at 10 percent, and Scott just wants to leave it to the free market. Not very reassuring to me. At the rate insurance premiums are rising, only wealthy people will be able to live in Florida. What a shame.

Sharon Lam, Hudson

Insurance rate increases

Citizens should defend rates

The Times and its readers have stirred up a good conversation about increased insurance rates for Citizens Property Insurance. Most of the major points were made, but there are two points that didn't really get made.

First, I'd like a clear explanation of why Citizens raised its rates this far. What exactly does it cost the state to run Citizens? How can Citizens actually justify these increases, which badly outpace inflation and head in the opposite direction of the value of most homes?

Second, I would like candidate Rick Scott to show some savvy, rather than misleading blather. I am a card-carrying Republican, but Scott's comment that a "free market economy" would bring down prices is hogwash. Free market economic principles do not apply to required goods or services. With so many of the mortgages in the state underwater, it is clear that most homeowners still have liens. This means they must carry insurance. This thwarts the fundamentals of free market theory. It is irresponsible for Scott to offer a sound bite saying otherwise.

Eric Odgaard, Lutz

Where are the reserves?

Florida has not been hit with a hurricane for five years. During that time we all have been paying very high home insurance rates because the insurance companies have insisted they need to build up a reserve to pay for claims when a hurricane does strike.

We now hear that Citizens (and others, undoubtedly) will raise rates yet again. Yet I have not seen any reports that lay out exactly which insurance companies have built up how much reserves to cover these expected coverage payments.

Citizens claims that a large number of sinkhole claims is the reason for the current need for an increase, yet fires seem to be more prevalent statewide than sinkholes, which are localized.

I am paying five times as much in home insurance than I paid when I first moved to Florida some 15 years ago. Where does this extra money go?

Citizens should have open books and we should be able to see how much of this extra cash they have placed in what kind of reserves to cover future claims.

Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg

Tea party may run its course into ditch Sept. 24, Daniel Ruth column

Think for yourselves

As a voter who is feeling disenfranchised by most politicians and all of the major parties, I must respond to Daniel Ruth with a hearty Ditto.

Now, what about those other sound-bite purveyors who are trying to swing into office on the coattails of broadcasters whose only allegiance is to the financial bottom line of their advertisers? When will we wake up to this foolishness, turn off the talkers, and begin to think for ourselves again?

Finding a candidate who is worth your vote ought to take more energy than voting the party line or reading a voter guide or following the lead of my union or my pastor or some knucklehead on the air selling commercials. Too much is at stake.

Go get 'em, Daniel Ruth and Howard Troxler, et al., and don't let up until common sense returns to the nation's voting booths.

John K. LaBrake, St. Petersburg

Tea party may run its course into ditch Sept. 24, Daniel Ruth column

They're better than that

Daniel Ruth seems to believe that the salt of the earth people who make up the tea party are nothing other than inept and wandering nomads who, like the Bedouins in Lawrence of Arabia, don't know how to run the waterworks. He imperiously dismisses these American citizens as unworthy of credibility.

Perhaps if Ruth would take off his blinders, he would see that the productive people of this country are sick and tired of federal intervention in their lives; of wasteful federal spending which threatens to overwhelm the gross domestic product with massive debt; and of self-ordained elitists like him who look down contemptuously on people who, contrary to his opinion, do indeed have a practical knowledge of business, economics and technology.

Jack B. McPherson, New Port Richey

A nation in disrepair | Sept. 23, letter

Don't blame tea party

Our infrastructure may be beginning to show its age, but that is not a legitimate reason to start attacking the tea party. It is true that quite a bit of stimulus money is going to fix the aging roads and bridges, but saying President Barack Obama is not getting credit is an understatement. Almost every project site receiving funds flaunts a large American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sign.

I wouldn't say that Republicans are averse to fixing up the infrastructure, as much as they are to the crippling debt that comes along with this "recovery." And to the question of solving unemployment with road repair jobs: How many of the unemployed are able and willing to take on the physically demanding jobs that are involved?

If the government cannot sustain itself on its income then it should cut back on spending just like anyone in the private sector would be forced to do.

Matthew Philbin, Tarpon Springs

Tuesday letters: Another blow to the middle class

09/27/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 27, 2010 6:25pm]
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