Corporate tax con | March 4, editorial
Don't blame businesses; change tax code
It seems the Times' liberal DNA will simply not allow it to address the federal tax problem without trying to leave the impression that it is somehow caused by business. The editorial even deceptively says that "business lobbyists write loopholes into the tax code." I thought the Legislature did that. The Times goes on to say that corporations "exploit" loopholes. Taking a legal deduction is exploitation?
When corporations use a deduction lawmakers have specifically written into the tax code, they are simply applying the law. Is the Times really suggesting that U.S. corporations should ignore their fiscal responsibility to their stockholders and employees and give the government a little extra? Do the tax accountants who work for the Times follow that policy?
The very word loophole implies that there is some sort of deception involved when, in fact, someone went to a lot of trouble to specifically write that particular deduction into the tax code. A lobbyist may have suggested the deduction, but it was written into the tax code by the lawmakers who saw the benefits either to his or her constituents, or to a re-election campaign.
If the Times editors want to help, they should stay focused on the politicians and not the corporations who are just following the law. And it isn't only the corporations. The Tax Policy Center predicted that 47 percent of individual taxpayers in 2009 would pay no federal income tax at all. Would the Times call this an individual tax con?
There is no question that the tax code needs to be reformed. It is so complicated that corporations have legions of tax accountants on staff, not to cheat, but to follow the law. Even individual taxpayers are so intimidated that they feel compelled to hire a tax return service for even the simplest of returns.
The Times should stop trying to make corporate taxpayers the villains and keep its focus on the real problem, which is the tax code itself.
Jeffrey Lahm, St. Petersburg
Corporations collect taxes
You just keep doing it — spreading the myth that corporations pay taxes. Anyone with a basic knowledge of economics is aware that corporations don't pay taxes, they collect taxes. Any so-called "corporate taxes" are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, just as the Times did the last time its "taxes" were increased. Alas, most journalists either don't understand basic economics or choose to ignore it.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
Mayor ousts Davis | March 5
Good person; bad decision
Sometimes, good people make bad decisions. Such is the case of Goliath Davis — whom I know and highly respect as an educator/leader — when he did not show up at the funerals of the three St. Petersburg police officers.
His reasons for not doing so are off the mark; no matter how difficult it may have been for him, he needed to be at those funerals to show his public support for the slain officers and their families. I feel badly for them.
I also feel badly for Davis because he is a terrific person and has been important to the development of Midtown and other areas throughout the city.
How this all plays out is hard to know. What I do know is that the black and white communities of St. Petersburg are not together, have not ever been together and the sooner we put aside our mutual discomfort and superficial banter, the better.
Herb Snitzer, St. Petersburg
Kudos to Mayor Bill Foster for his recent firing of Goliath Davis. I am certain that other factors also determined his decision, but Davis' excuse that he didn't attend the funerals for St. Petersburg's fallen heroes because it was too painful is not credible.
And to attend the funeral of a cop killer was unforgiveable and a slap in the face to all law enforcement.
Jo Terry Brinkley, Riverview
High court upholds "hurtful" protests March 3
The price of free speech
It's understandable why the Supreme Court's decision in the Westboro Baptist Church case — concerning inappropriate protests at funerals of American servicemen — is so unpopular.
The pastor and his congregation should be ashamed of themselves. Their applauding the deaths of these servicemen, as a protest related to gay rights, is insensitive, untimely and vicious.
For all of that, however, the Supreme Court's 8-1 decision to uphold the right of these misguided church folks to display their opinions on urgent public issues, while complying with local laws, was correct. The issue is not whether the comments are wise or popular, only whether they are protected by the Constitution. They are.
No one has to heed this hateful message. Moreover, others enjoy the same right to peacefully protest to counter and rebut the church's views.
Most important, no one of us in a free society should want officials at any government level to tell us what we can or cannot say in our discussions and debates over public issues.
Laurence J. Paul, Nobleton
Having won the right for their corporate sponsors to spend unlimited funds on "speech," and now on the verge of finally breaking the bargaining power of the unions, the Republicans are entering the final offensive in their long-standing war on the middle class.
Once the unions are finished we will have returned to the class structure of the 1890s. Workers will be told to "just be glad you've got a job" and corporations will hire and fire them as commodities — to be bought and sold at the cheapest possible price.
Next, health care will be permanently enshrined as a "privilege" to be granted, limited, or withheld at the whim of employers. Then we will have truly reverted to Hobbes' state of nature — everything to the strongest, and for the rest, life will be "poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
What more could they ask for?
Gregg Niemi, Tampa
Florida rights commission
Protecting our rights
I am alarmed about Gov. Rick Scott's proposed 56 percent cut to the staff of the state's civil rights agency, particularly at a time when rebuilding Florida's economy is a collective goal. Not only does the Florida Commission on Human Relations protect the rights of all people in Florida, as mandated by our state Constitution, it also saves businesses untold amounts of money in avoided litigation costs due to its mediation services.
Our state cannot afford this deep cut that would essentially gut the only independent civil rights entity in our state. The people and businesses of Florida deserve better than that.
Gilbert M. Singer, vice chair, Florida Commission on Human Relations, Tampa