Scott will learn government is not a business | Feb. 6, Nickens column
Business principles will bring back Florida's economy
The contention that government is not a business couldn't be more off base. Not treating government like a business is precisely what's wrong with our state and federal economies. Government is a business, but with a few different rules than the private sector.
Gov. Rick Scott and anyone else who has ever run a business knows that you cannot spend more than you take in or spend money that you don't have. Scott is simply trying to balance the books (another cardinal rule of business) for the state. One aspect of his approach involves taking away the overly comfortable lifestyle of some full-time and retired state workers. I don't see anything wrong with that since there are millions of people throughout the state who have lost their jobs, homes and retirement because of the incompetence of the federal and state governments.
The characterization that state workers have had no "general" increase in the last five years is misleading. If you mean to say that they have had no raises in the last five years, that's not true. I believe what you really meant was that the salary system for state workers has not been changed in the last five years. People have been getting step increases and promotions, so it's not like their income was frozen like Social Security recipients over the past two years.
Cutting pensions and cost-of-living adjustments for current workers is not unfair. Those of us who retired from private industry don't now and never did get cost-of-living increases.
Please don't try to sell the idea that government departments can't be downsized or dissolved. The first place to look is at the travel budget. Meetings could be drastically reduced through the use of video conferencing.
Dave Groff, Homosassa
Scott will learn government is not a business Feb. 6, Nickens column
Decisive action needed
Tim Nickens certainly didn't waste any time criticizing Gov. Rick Scott's business approach. He would have us think that everything was just fine with Florida's fiscal house. Florida, like many other states and the federal government, needs a new approach, and a business approach is why I voted for Scott.
I'm glad someone decided to get control of Florida's checkbook. I don't see anyone in Washington doing it.
The financial condition of many municipalities, states and certainly our federal government is poor. We need decisive action to get it back on the right track. I believe that Scott will provide it for Florida.
Paul Natale, Clearwater
Businesses not democratic
Tim Nickens' assessment of our new governor seems spot-on. Government is not a business, as the governor is finding out.
However, an even more important point needs to be made. Rick Scott and so many others with political aspirations today base their candidacies on the proposition that government should be run like a business, as though that were actually a good idea. But why would we want our government to behave like a business? Most businesses, like Scott's, are not democratic organizations. In right-to-work states like ours, businesses can dismiss an employee without cause. I want my government to value and uphold a legal system that provides due process for all of its citizens.
Businesses are autocratic systems that value one thing: profit. We cannot afford such a myopic political system. I want my government to manage a system of free public education for all of its children, provide police and fire protection for its people, look out for its most fragile and disadvantaged citizens, and value and support the freedom and liberties of our society and the institutions that guard them.
I don't want an inflexible CEO, bent on making Florida a utopia for doing business, running the government. I want a civil servant and statesman who is interested in compromise and working together to make our state and nation a better place in which to live. As messy and frustrating as democratic government can be, I prefer it by far to a business state run by a CEO.
There is a synonym for a government CEO. He's called a dictator. That's what they are demonstrating and rebelling against in Tunisia and Egypt. If Rick Scott is looking to be that kind of leader, there may just be an opening soon in North Africa. He shouldn't expect a warm welcome, though. They understand, better than many Americans, that running a country or a state like a business is a bad idea.
Robert McMahon, Safety Harbor
A political budget
Gov. Rick Scott has released his budget. But the cuts he is asking for are not meant to create jobs. The fact that he unveiled it at a tea party event highlights the political nature of the budget.
But the conservative adage that "those who govern least, govern best" makes no sense. It would be like saying "those who teach least, teach best," or "those who practice medicine least, practice best." How about "those who govern most efficiently and meet the needs of constituents, govern best"? Because right now, we are in need.
Rick Scott somehow believes that taking $2.8 billion out of the hands of state employees' pensions is going to help our economy. Scott's plan is like the New Deal but in reverse: Instead of creating a program to help the middle class retire, he's going to do it by cutting back.
It is no secret that Scott is not a fan of the Department of Community Affairs. He has said he intends to shrink the programs and services that the DCA provides. That means cuts to social programs, mental health and public assistance and community development block grants. The hardest hit from the recession will now become the least assisted by our government.
What about the corporate income tax? Scott intends to cut the already low rate of 5.5 percent to zero in the next seven years. But it isn't the tax that keeps companies away; it is the fact that Florida's work force doesn't have the technical education and skills. Let us pump more money into public education rather than less to get this economy going again.
This governor seems content on governing least, but we need better solutions than cutting the budget to death.
Tim Heberlein, Tampa
Early-release puzzle bedevils school board Jan. 26
Later start a good idea
I think that having school start one hour later is a good idea. It would give students more time to sleep in and get ready for school. I know that when I wake up in the morning, the last thing that I want to do is go to school. Students would be much more awake and ready to start their school day.
Chris Barnett, Tampa
Final hours haunt Lacys | Feb. 1
Too much attention
I am disappointed, though not surprised, that the Times chose to have two recent front-page stories about this multiple cop killer. All that is relevant is that Lacy was a violent career criminal and lastly a multiple cop killer. Cop killers come in all sizes and races, however most seem to be males.
I have a suggestion for a more newsworthy front-page story. How about reporting about our dedicated men and women in our military that are fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? I had dinner recently with a young man who is a Marine sniper who recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. I think many of us would rather read about these productive members of society and true heroes.
Tom Colbert, Dunedin
She butchered it
The sound you may have heard after the rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner sung by Christina Aguilera before the Super Bowl probably was Francis Scott Key banging on his coffin lid. Why do they (whoever "they" are) choose people to sing our anthem who proceed to butcher it?
The Star-Spangled Banner was written to celebrate the courage exhibited by the men at Fort McHenry; after a night of shelling by the British, the flag was still flying. It was not written as a vehicle for someone to show off his/her ability to add trills, change the melody, or hit high notes.
Mary Lou Kiefer, North Redington Beach