Now's the time for informed tax talks | Sept. 23, editorial
U.S. tax system needs overhaul
By now we've all heard the candidates' comments about redistribution of wealth and the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes. These comments again highlight that our income tax system is broken.
The FairTax is the solution. The FairTax is a comprehensive plan to replace federal income and payroll taxes with a consumption tax on new goods and services. While permitting no exemptions or exceptions, the FairTax provides a monthly, universal "prebate" or rebate, that ensures each household may consume tax-free up to the poverty level, thereby making the FairTax progressive.
With the FairTax, consumers will pay the actual price of a product or service with no hidden taxes, and workers will keep 100 percent of the wages they earn minus any state or local taxes.
What all this means to America is powerful economic growth and desperately needed job creation. The FairTax provides hope for bringing hundreds of thousands of lost jobs back to America.
Kenneth Douglas, St. Petersburg
Again, the same old hate Sept. 23, commentary
Performance, not pigment
Leonard Pitts and others of President Barack Obama's minions are attempting in advance to frame his potential upcoming defeat as evidence of the prevalence of racism in America. A racist bumper sticker spotted somewhere in South Florida is somehow overwhelming evidence that our president is widely hated for his skin color.
I am not buying it. Obama's decisive victory in 2008 slammed the door on that theory.
Instead I would submit that if Obama is defeated in November it will be because of his track record in the White House.
Laura Harris, Brandon
GOP wounds self-inflicted
If President Barack Obama is re-elected, he need only look to the right wing of his opponent's party — not to his base — to express his gratitude.
A winning margin for the president will likely be the result of popularity, not performance in office. The likability factor as a voting issue is not new, but in this election cycle it has trumped policies and qualifications.
Arguably, its rise to the forefront was fueled by Republicans, not Democrats or even the so-called mainstream media. Time and again Mitt Romney was rebuffed by the conservative wing of his party during the long and arduous primary season. The tea party tarred him as being too moderate on social issues, while the evangelicals refused to accept him as a fellow Christian. Media interpretation: He's just not likable.
Defeating an incumbent president is a daunting challenge even in times of economic distress. Romney is within striking distance of that goal and will have to perform well in the debates to give himself a chance to win on Nov. 6. Should the Republican Party finally decide that unification is better than defeat, it may be too late to repair the damage caused by self-inflicted wounds.
Jim Paladino, Tampa
Two cures for political apathy | Sept. 22, Reading Files
Descent of discourse
So we have pioneering political consultants Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker to thank for the descent of political discourse into an entertaining brawl for the masses. Is there any hope that we can end the cacophony of cartoonish claims put forth by those who seek to govern us?
Politicians are seeking public office, presumably to serve the public. Wouldn't the public be better served by an intelligent, thoughtful presentation of the issues? Instead, the citizenry is served up a toxic stew of fear-mongering, finger-pointing and fatuous pablum.
Thus, the informed slide into a stupor of cynicism while the uninformed are starved of the vital truths they need to cast a vote that's in their best interest. I wish our aspiring public servants could do better.
Maryellen Mariani, Seminole
FEMA denies storm dollars | Sept. 22
Billions for them; zero for us
Barack Obama's administration continues to send our billions of dollars in aid to the Middle East while they burn our flag and kill our citizens, yet our government refuses to assist the citizens of Florida? And other states impacted by Hurricane Isaac get assistance? This deserves an explanation, aside from the obviously political answer.
Jill Fisher Cope, Clearwater
Job losses and gains
There are a lot of conflicting statistics being batted around to show how good or bad the job situation is. It seems to me that one meaningful statistic that we seldom see is whether there are more people working now than there were when President Barack Obama took office.
From what I have been able to gather, there are fewer people working now — numbers I have seen range from 4 million to 500,000 fewer. Campaign ads claim that we are better off now than we were because 4.6 million new jobs have been created during this period. If so, then nearly as many people could have been laid off as jobs created.
As an old economics professor used to say, "Figures don't lie, but liars do a lot of figuring."
Ken Leiser, Seminole
Another move to help struggling Midtown Sept. 23
Address crime first
So the St. Petersburg City Council now believes that the solution to Midtown's persistent woes is to provide more tax dollars for inanimate objects. They have been there and done that with some results, but nothing near what they expected for $100 million. This is because they have failed to invest $65,000 to employ the services of an urban sociologist who would teach them that it isn't shiny new buildings that are going to turn Midtown around. It's crime, truancy, drugs and a pervasive sense of insecurity that will continue to stymie the efforts of naive politicos.
For $1 million the city could build a modern, small police substation on the land that it already owns across from Tangerine Plaza. With a small staff trained in community policing techniques and marked cars coming and going 24 hours a day, this would be a cheap experiment to test the effect of an enhanced police presence.
Until the citizens of Midtown feel secure for their families, more landscaping and buildings won't work.
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg