Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for January 2013 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Gun plan tackles a daunting task (Jan. 17)
For the greater good
Over the past few weeks, a number of my friends have proffered the following argument: "I have always been a careful and responsible gun owner. Why do I have to give up my constitutional right to have a gun - be it an assault rifle, a gun with a large magazine clip, etc.?"
My retort has been: "I have been a careful and responsible licensed driver for over 50 years (one ticket and no accidents). Why do I have to give up my right to drive my car at any speed I deem careful and responsible?"
Here is why: Sometimes in a society like ours, reasonable and responsible people have to forgo certain rights and/or privileges because of the misuse and or abuse of them by unreasonable and irresponsible people. Sometimes we have to give up certain rights and/or privileges for the better good. Doing so, at least in my view, is being a mature, reasonable and responsible citizen.
William G. Emener, St. Pete Beach
Social Security tax (Jan. 20)
Who really benefited?
As workers have started receiving 2 percent less in their paychecks, the real beneficiaries of the recent fiscal cliff deal have become apparent. Individuals with incomes above $400,000 suffered a stiff income tax increase. Those who earn less avoided the income tax increase but got hit with a substantial hike in their Social Security tax. Individuals earning between $110,000 and $400,000 made out best on the deal because they avoided the income tax increase and their wages above $110,000 are excluded from all Social Security tax.
I fully understand the need to end the Social Security tax holiday in order to avoid further damage to the financial stability of the system, but I am disturbed that our politicians didn't bite the bullet while they were sticking it to everybody else and eliminate the cap on earnings subject to Social Security. Such a move would have let this prosperous group share more equitably with other Americans in the increased tax burden, and it would have permanently eliminated any future Social Security funding problem.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Pension levy is upheld (Jan. 18)
A good argument unused
I think that the reason the state Supreme Court ruled for Gov. Scott on the issue of the state workers' being charged 3 percent is that the state workers are using the wrong argument. They argued collective bargaining, but here is what they should have said: Since the money being taken was used as tax money (it plugged a budget hole) and it is taken from wages, it is an income tax, which is prohibited by the state Constitution. And it is a discriminatory income tax on a select portion of the population.
Thomas Sarsfield, Valrico