Middle class goes missing | Oct. 26, letter
Top U.S. earners pay a big share
What the letter writer leaves out in criticizing the top 10 percent of wage earners is that these same "greedy" individuals pay 71 percent of all income taxes while the bottom 50 percent pay 2.3 percent and 47 percent pay no income taxes at all. This data was put out by the Congressional Budget Office and verified by PolitiFact. I don't think paying nearly three-quarters of all income tax means the top 10 percent are stealing from the poor.
What contributes to drastic income inequality are people who, for whatever reason, saw no value in education. They are stuck in low-paying, entry-level jobs because they have no skills and no education.
If you look at the top earners in this country, they got an education, most of them started at the bottom with an idea or a talent, worked hard to make use of that idea or talent and consequently are now making lots of money and providing jobs to others. Nothing wrong with that, and demonizing them is doing a disservice to the country.
Sharon DiPiazza, Seffner
To start, stop calling them 'entitlements' Oct. 25, commentary
Tax structure to blame
I'm disappointed that the Tampa Bay Times continues to publish the same Robert Samuelson column with the same tired message. He will not accept the Social Security Act of 1935, its longevity, its popularity, or its success, and believes it is responsible for our financial ills. In his latest column he attacks the use of the word "entitlements," saying it is misleading. Really? I have annual statements from the Social Security Administration going back many years stipulating (in writing) a minimum annual return upon retirement on the money that I paid in over many decades (and I paid in much more than I will ever receive).
Samuelson never addresses the other big issue in resolving our debt problems: the confusing and unfair tax structure. This implies that he feels the wealthiest people and corporations are "entitled" to avoid paying their fair share of the tax burden or to evade it in a variety of devious ways, and that this "entitlement" supersedes mine to collect benefits I paid for and which were guaranteed to me in writing. I suggest that even a brief reading of the Constitution will make it clear that there is no legal right not to pay taxes, but the government does have a legal obligation to pay its debts.
In the 1780s the nobles of France asserted that they, by virtue of their social status and "contributions" to society, should be exempt from taxes, even if it meant bankrupting the regime or defaulting on the nation's debts. Before politicians try slashing the safety net while many of the wealthiest Americans and corporations continue to pay few or no taxes, I suggest they Google the word "guillotine."
Richard Long, Temple Terrace
Earned or unearned
I believe Robert Samuelson missed an important point about entitlements. There are two categories of entitlements: earned and unearned.
Social Security is an earned entitlement because each worker paid into it along with his employer in every pay period.
Medicare is an earned entitlement because is was paid in each worker's paycheck.
Military retirement is an earned entitlement because each recipient sacrificed by receiving lower pay during his or her service time for the promise of retirement pay after a specific number of years served.
Many of the other entitlements are basically handouts by the government.
Therefore, if the government takes actions to reduce costs, these two categories must be treated differently.
Willard Ottman, Apollo Beach
'This valiant warrior' | Oct. 25
A family's thanks
I wanted to say thank you to all of those who came out to show their respects and honor my brother, Rep. C.W. Bill Young, and not only at the public viewing and service. As my family and I drove from the church to Bay Pines, we couldn't help but to notice your presence. My heart was deeply touched by all those who stood on the side of the road waving flags, saluting and sharing a piece of history with families and friends.
Thank you to all those waiting at intersections and in parking lots while the funeral procession went past. Thank you to all the businesses that put signs out thanking and honoring Bill. My brother will be sorely missed not only locally and nationally but in our family's hearts. As most of you know, my brother and I came from humble beginnings, and I am proud of him and all that he did for this country.
Tom Young family, Pinellas Park
State approves pipeline project | Oct. 25
Push for renewables
The Public Service Commission rubber-stamped a new gas pipeline for Florida at a cost of $3 billion. Commissioner Julie Brown is quoted as saying, "The need for this project is indisputable at this time."
The PSC should not approve any similar project without requiring the submission of plans for a viable, sustainable power project such as solar, wind or tidal power at the same time and considering them in the overall power requirements.
Florida runs almost dead last in states producing sustainable power. We have the most sun of any state. We have plenty of wind and we have tides surrounding the state. I have seen articles about harnessing the power of the Gulf Stream, which runs up our east coast. What's the problem?
Bill Balmer, Seminole
Bright House cable to carry Al Jazeera Oct. 25
Balanced Mideast coverage
I would like to express my appreciation for the decision by Time Warner/Bright House to carry Al Jazeera America on its cable system. I am sure there has been a lot of opposition to this move, and there will be some very ugly comments in opposition. However, for years I have watched Al Jazeera America on the Internet. I have found that its reporting is balanced and unbiased. I find its coverage of the problems facing the Middle East very effective in sorting out the underlying issues behind each side of the many conflicts over the past 10 years.
Al Jazeera is less frivolous and biased in its reporting than some of the other news networks. The time has come for those networks to face some serious competition.
John J. Johnson, Pinellas Park