Panthers prey on calves | Nov. 14
Panthers should be the priority
Who was on this land first: the Florida panthers or the ranchers? Who is indigenous to the forests and the scrubland of Florida: the Florida panthers or the cattlemen?
A rancher states: "We don't feel that we should bear the burden of providing for the panthers." Yet another part of the article points out that because the cattle ranchers own so much land, the panthers have no place to go. Greed seems to rule the times in which we live.
It's time for the cattle ranchers to put the welfare of our most precious native Florida wildlife ahead of their profit motive and selfish interests.
I for one am willing to stop completely my consumption of beef if it means saving the life of one Florida panther.
Extinction is forever.
M.L. Parrino, Tampa
Don't raise gas tax for all; make states fix their roads
While I agree with the general thrust of a recent letter's recommendations on cutting the deficit (Some ways to trim fat in budget, Nov. 20), the writer supports an additional 15-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax. Not only would this be regressive, but in general, the states that are the most fiscally prudent have the best roads. The states in the worst fiscal shape have the worst roads. They need fixing, but should other states pay for them? No. Let the states raise gasoline taxes if they want to.
And while the letter supports cutting federal payrolls, the writer wants to start at the top because the rank-and-file worker is doing the jobs of two or three because of budget cuts. On the contrary, the only employer doing significant hiring these days is the federal government, and even the rank-and-file make significantly more than their private sector counterparts. There was a lot of fat before, but there's even more now.
Ernest Lane, Trinity
Avoiding the real issue
Republicans are saying that the deficit problem is due to entitlements. The problem is not Social Security or Medicare. For 30 years those programs have been raided to help pay for the rest of the government. What they are now proposing is to increase the taxes on the middle class and below through smaller benefits or higher direct payroll taxes. This will not decrease the deficit.
President Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt (he did manage to greatly increase payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare while cutting taxes for the rich) due to obscene spending on the military while telling the American public that they would not have to pay for it.
George W. Bush did the same except that he only doubled the size of our debt. We have just witnessed an election in which people yelled and screamed about the deficit and our mounting debt. They then proceeded to elect the very people responsible for it. You can be sure that the debt will get worse.
They are not even in office and they want to add hundreds of billions to the deficit by keeping the Bush tax cuts (which did little to spur employment). Instead they talk of entitlements so they can avoid the real issue, which is that we refuse to pay for the government we want.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
The federal budget and you | Nov. 14
Put government on a diet
Our government is like a morbidly obese person whom we'll call Uncle Sammy. What he needs is a realistic diet. Cutting vital services like defense, Social Security, Medicare and education would be akin to Uncle Sammy cutting out vegetables, protein and water. Sure, he would lose weight, but his overall health would suffer. What he needs to cut are carbohydrates and fats, and he needs to reduce his overall consumption along with a sensible program of exercise.
Here's a proposed diet:
1. Cut out desserts: Earmarks, giveaways and pet projects must be eliminated. Review farm subsidies and eliminate corporate subsidies and tax loopholes. Enact a windfall profits tax. Eliminate double dipping.
2. Drastically reduce fats: Bring home our troops and redeploy them along our border with Mexico. Eliminate political payoff jobs. Freeze federal salaries for the same duration as Social Security payments. Eliminate duplication or overlap of federal agencies.
3. Limit daily caloric intake: Don't spend more money than you take in. In the future, spend less than you take in to pay down debt.
4. Limit carbohydrates: Require Congress to be covered under the same Social Security and Medicare benefits as normal citizens. Cut the federal work force by 25 percent. Review and reduce salaries of congressional aides, assistants and secretaries to be more in line with the private sector.
5. Take responsibility: Stop all foreign aid, at least until we have a balanced budget. Take care of our country's homeless, hungry, crime, illegal aliens and infrastructure problems.
6. Exercise: Overhaul our tax system. Consider options other than a graduated income tax. Enact term limits for Congress. Enact medical tort reform.
Everett Melnick, St. Petersburg
Too easy to get fired in Fla.
I am a new Florida resident and have just become painfully aware of the fact that an employer can terminate an employee without documenting a reason of any kind.
In my case, there was no incident, or event, that would merit such action. I was a new hire and had a good 45-day review. Nothing was said, or documented, between then and the 90-day review. At that time, I was told that I just was not measuring up to expectations. No warning.
I was qualified. I had four interviews, and a pre-employment test, physical and drug screen. That part was well-documented. They knew what caliber of employee they were getting.
I realize that no law was broken. I do believe that it is unfair and unethical, though. You can't be guaranteed a job, but I believe there should be documentation and communication that show a deficiency or other reason beforehand. No explanation need be given at all by an employer. It doesn't matter how well you perform.
An employer should have to show that communication was given, and steps were taken, to give an employee a chance to stay employed. It is just too convenient for an employer to use someone for short-term gain then fire him or her. An employer has to be able to make these decisions, but it seems it's just too easy. No wonder the unemployment rate is so high.
Duane Shields, Clearwater