Our democratic system is at risk
There are thoughtful, informed people who are worried that our democratic system of government is not working and the whole enterprise is at risk. I think there is only one solution to the problem: to elect people who have demonstrated the ability to work cooperatively with others and solve problems.
It is foolish to think that the personalities of members of Congress change when they arrive in Washington. A worrisome number were fools, buffoons and rigidly ideological before they were elected, and there is no realistic possibility that anyone or anything can change their personalities after they are elected and while they are in office.
It is a crisis long in the making. Most students finish high school with little or no understanding of American history or the way their government works. There is no understanding of the idea of citizenship and the heavy responsibility imposed on citizens who live in a democratic republic. There has never been so much information so easily available that could allow people to make wise use of their votes. But without the perspective of education and a deep understanding that voting is everything in our system of government, it all may slip away.
Roger C. Benson, St. Petersburg
Birth year as political destiny July 9, commentary
Worries are more basic
While David Leonhardt's column is on the mark, his New York Times liberal pedigree shows when he twice says that younger voters support climate policy and oppose inequality, whatever that means. The job shortage for recent college graduates, working at a job below your educational level, and handling student loan debt are the realities young voters encounter and talk about on a daily basis — not climate change or income inequality.
David P. Carter, Seminole
More U.S. companies heading overseas July 10, commentary
Cut the rate, grow jobs
When a U.S. company decides to relocate its incorporation overseas, it does so to avoid the taxes and the regulations that it faces domestically. But it is also fulfilling a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to maximize return on investment.
Perhaps more critically, we are losing the well-paid jobs and the investment in plants and equipment that a company may now decide to do elsewhere. Would we not be better off if we reduced the current 35 percent corporate tax rate to a competitive level and got some of that $1 trillion repatriated and, more importantly, kept the jobs and investments here?
Half a loaf is better than none.
Ed Germond, Apollo Beach
Seminole withholds support for Greenlight July 10
Transit drives economy
I see that the Seminole City Council has decided not to support Greenlight Pinellas. This is so shortsighted. Our local governments should recognize that public transit is a prudent strategy that can relieve congestion and, most importantly, get people to and from jobs. This is good for the larger economy, though each town in Pinellas may not see direct benefits right away.
Great cities keep their economies pumping by providing excellent access to everything, and they all provide public funding for their transit. Subsidizing public transit is more important to me than roads. Why would we continue to build publicly funded roads and not provide publicly subsidized transit on those roads?
The future depends on better management of our assets, and pouring money into pavement is not the answer. Public transit in all its various forms — whether bicycle lanes or buses, taxicabs, trains or shared-ride programs — are all good and necessary.
Diana Carsey, Dunedin
U.S. teens mediocre on money matters July 10
Boosting financial literacy
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which cites financial literacy as an essential life skill, found that American students were "in the middle of the pack" of students from around the world when it comes to understanding basic financial concepts. As we saw with the financial crisis of 2008, this lack of understanding can have dire consequences when these young people become adults.
Junior Achievement is actively working in our community to promote financial literacy. But financial literacy involves more than just gaining knowledge. It means understanding what it means to be financially responsible. JA helps accomplish this by bringing role models into the classroom to share their personal experiences about what it means to manage a budget, pay bills on time and invest in ways that benefit the individual and the community. During the 2013-14 school year, over 91,000 Tampa Bay area students had the opportunity to apply these important concepts in hands-on, experiential learning activities.
If we want to improve financial literacy in this country, there are ways to do it now. It just takes some dedication and commitment. For our part, JA is here to help.
Robert Mossbacher, Clearwater
Palestinian victims | July 11, letter
Israel diverse, democratic
I read with disbelief this absurd anti-Israel letter. To say that Israel "is obsessed with ethnic purity … and purging non-Jews from the region" could not be farther from the truth. Israel, in fact, is a democracy and one of the most ethnically diverse and free societies in the world.
Israel's 20 percent Arab minority enjoys all of the political, economic and religious rights afforded to the Jewish majority. In Israel, Jews and Arabs live and work together. Arabs are represented in the Supreme Court, and Christian and Muslim holy sites are protected by Israeli law. In contrast, no Christian or Jew is allowed to visit Islam's holiest site in Saudi Arabia.
Political leaders in Israel unequivocally condemned the brutal murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the Palestinian leadership when it was discovered that Hamas abducted and murdered the three Israeli teens. In Palestinian communities, these three innocent deaths were a call for celebration.
I challenge the letter writer to find any country in the Middle East and around the world that does more to protect individual rights and freedoms of expression, religion, organization and the press.
Alon Frank, St. Petersburg