Obama's uphill battle | Sept. 9, editorial
Small businesses need investors
As the owner of a small architecture and engineering firm that has added a few employees in an industry where many have folded, I may be qualified to make some useful observations.
Will President Barack Obama's new jobs bill actually produce any jobs? From where I sit, the answer is both yes and no.
Yes, big business will add some jobs. Cutting the payroll tax for employees will go to consumer spending, and that definitely adds jobs. Cutting the payroll tax for a big business produces cash flow, but much of this added revenue will go straight to the bottom line. Will putting a $4,000 tax credit out there for big businesses cause them to hire? Most have been running a lot leaner than normal, so there will be some effect there.
Now for the "no" part. Most small businesses will add few jobs, if any. This is the more important issue because small business is the biggest job growth engine we have, and it is this growth that has been missing from this "recovery." Will cutting my share of payroll tax cause me to hire another employee? No. Will putting a $4,000 tax credit out there if I hire another employee cause me to do so? No. If we need another employee, we'll hire; if we don't, we won't. Small business hiring is based on need, nothing else, and demand has to go up a lot or we deal with it with the people we have.
So what is the answer? Starting a new business always requires you to hire people, but new business startups at this time are practically impossible. Why? You can't find the capital. You can't borrow it. You can't raise it from investors.
The entrepreneurs are here. The ideas are here. They always have been. The people with money to invest aren't. If they get in the game we can turn this around in a hurry. Until they do, we are going to be in for a long, slow slog no matter what Washington or Tallahassee does.
Keith Burnett, St. Petersburg
Minor league mayor | Sept. 4, editorial
Editorial was way off base
This Times editorial excoriated St. Petersburg's mayor for failing to embrace the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays in their quest for a new baseball stadium to be built primarily at public expense. It was a disservice to the city and to the Times.
No doubt, having a major league baseball team here enhances the Times' circulation. But intemperate support for a new stadium could actually damage that circulation, being offensive to an equal or greater number of readers who resent having their taxes support wealthy, out-of-state financiers. After all, how many Times readers can actually afford to take their families to a Rays game?
Setting aside the invective in the editorial, consider the points raised:
• Mayor Bill Foster is said to be without a plan for dealing with the Rays' owners. You can't really believe that. Everyone knows that playing a winning hand requires that you keep your cards close to your vest while you call, raise or stand pat behind a face of stone.
• Directly contradicting the Times' comment regarding the team's economic contributions are the words of Dr. Allen Sanderson of the economics department at the University of Chicago, the leading academic authority on issues of sports economics. Speaking in Tampa when the first rumblings of the Rays' owners threats to move were being heard, he asserted that there is no net economic advantage to a community from the presence of a major league sports team.
• The Times' suggestion that Hillsborough and Pinellas officials convene to discuss the future of baseball here could lead to tortuous interference with a legal contract. You wrote, "If the St. Petersburg mayor objects to the idea, let him sue." Can this be the St. Petersburg Times of W.L. Straub and Nelson Poynter?
Emil A. Pavone, St. Petersburg
Fuel economy standards
Saving gas, the environment
By setting a fleet average goal of a 54.5 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks by 2025, President Barack Obama is setting the stage to create good jobs building cleaner, more efficient vehicles here in the United States. The higher standards will also mean big savings for Florida families and help protect our precious coasts and environment from the impacts of climate change.
According to "Driving Growth," a report from the United Auto Workers and other organizations, the current 2012 through 2016 vehicle emissions program would create up to 54,000 American jobs in both the auto industry and the manufacturing supply chain. By 2020, getting to 40 miles per gallon, using existing technologies, would create up to 150,000 additional manufacturing jobs.
More efficient vehicles also mean we'll save big at the pump. In addition, these standards will help us curb our $1-billion-a-day addiction to foreign oil. Finally, they'll ensure that we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that the environmental legacy we leave our children and grandchildren will be a good one.
Michael Barnette, UAW, Orlando, Linda Bremer, Sierra Club Florida, Jacksonville
Role of government, for good or ill | Sept. 7, commentary
Congress must do its job
I take offense at Sen. Marco Rubio's statement that programs from the New Deal and Great Society have weakened us as a people. Our federal government is an institution of we, the people, and our votes have consequences.
President Ronald Reagan did Americans a disservice by telling us that "government is the problem." The problem is government not having enough revenue to cover expenses. Members of Congress need to step up and do the job they were elected to do.
Nina Tatlock, Apollo Beach
Food labels being revised | Sept. 4
Bigger portions and profits
Not only does the FDA want realistic serving sizes listed on products, but the public should demand them. I recently called a pasta manufacturer to ask why the nutritional label stated a serving size as 2 ounces but the cooking directions listed one serving as 3 ounces. What I got was a response to the effect that "proportion sizes are different from serving sizes."
It's obvious the manufacturer wants you to eat more so you have to buy more.
Harriet Browder, Clearwater
Why no NFL Network? It's a little complicated | Sept. 4
Pay for play
I never thought I would be on the side of a cable company, but I agree with Bright House. I would like to get the NFL Network for nothing, but I would not be willing to pay for it. So I think letting the public choose by paying extra is a fair way to make it available to those who are willing to pay.
Don Duggan, Oldsmar