Learning from transit setback | Nov. 19, editorial
Finding ways to unsnarl transit
As chairman of the board of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, I wish to express our support for the Nov. 19 editorial that encouraged local leaders to continue the "regional rallying cry" toward transportation improvements in the Tampa Bay area.
We respect the decision of the voters Nov. 2 and are committed to listening carefully to what was said about funding solutions for transportation improvements. We are encouraged by postelection analysis that shows most voters believe there is a tremendous need to improve transportation in the region.
We believe this demonstrates that the region is on the right track in working toward solutions to our transportation problems. A regional approach to planning, developing, implementing and financing transportation is the way forward, and TBARTA should be the convener of the regional dialogue.
We also are working with our partners to identify some "right-now" solutions that can help improve transportation in the short term in a cost-effective manner. We have consolidated commuter services (carpool, vanpool, Telework, etc.) to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. We are leading the effort to address additional cost-effectiveness strategies among the various transit providers in the region.
Now is the time to take bold and necessary steps to ensure connectivity within the greater Tampa Bay area and to other regions of the state. Along with our partners throughout the region, including CSX, local transit agencies and the Florida Department of Transportation, we are dedicated to our goal of "Connecting our Region and Building our Future."
As always, we welcome the community's participation and feedback on these efforts. It is not only a matter of improving our quality of life but ensuring our economic competitiveness and attracting new jobs to this area.
Ronnie Duncan, chairman, TBARTA board, Tampa
Bring back the CCC
Wouldn't it be great to see the Civilian Conservation Corps implemented again? Back in the Great Depression, it put several million people to work.
We need jobs, we need improvements in our towns and cities, and you would actually see what the money was spent on. Have you seen where any of the stimulus money has gone? I haven't, but it seems a lot of bonus money was handed out as usual. The CCC was successful in the '30s; it worked wonders.
Since we retired in '98, we have been traveling in a motor home and have been amazed at all the projects done by the CCC, all the national parks that were constructed and the high quality of workmanship. Work and monies spent here would benefit all, not to mention bringing pride and satisfaction of those involved.
We need leadership to carry on an old idea that has worked before. We've done it before; we can do it again. Let's put America to work for America.
Daniel McKenna, Sun City Center
Jobs shipped overseas
This morning I was awakened by my alarm clock that was made in China. I lit my "Made in China" lamp and turned on my "Made in China" baby boom box to hear the weather forecast.
My bath towel was made in Brazil. My bedspread was made in China.
I started the coffeemaker, set out a mug, dish and stainless-steel frying pan to cook an egg. Except for the egg, all were made in China.
Then I had to decide which blouse to wear. One was made in Indonesia, one made in Korea, one in Mexico and one in China. Also, one skirt was made in Guatemala, one in Vietnam and a pair of slacks were made in Honduras.
And we wonder where all the jobs are?
Paula Xenakis, Holiday
Benefits for the well-off
The Republicans don't want to add $12.5 billion to the federal deficit by extending unemployment benefits, but they are okay with adding $700 billion to the federal deficit by extending the temporary Bush tax cuts for the 2 percent of highest-income taxpayers.
They complain that the Democrats aren't cutting costs to offset the additional unemployment benefits. This complaint might seem reasonable except that they were silent as the budget surplus that George W. Bush inherited disappeared and became a large budget deficit.
And what is their plan to cut costs to offset the $700 billion? It's nonexistent. Instead they just yelp that this will be good for job growth. So are we supposed to forget that this temporary tax cut has been in existence for years and that even before the economy worsened, the Bush years were producing the worst job growth in many years?
The $12.5 billion will be pumped back into the economy with various economic benefits like keeping homes from being foreclosed on. What have the hundreds of billions of dollars already doled out to the 2 percent of highest-income taxpayers produced? Perhaps this has helped some economies as the money was spent out of our country, but look at how our economy has responded — a recession that, fittingly, began in the Bush years.
The Republicans claim they also want to extend the temporary tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans, as President Barack Obama does. If so, why not stop playing games? Extend the cuts for the average Americans now; bicker about the cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent later.
But if the Republicans really want to spend $700 billion to help our economy, then give it to the people who will put it right back into our economy instead of extending the "trickle-down" policy that has proved not to work. But at least show some concern for average Americans by extending the unemployment benefits.
Dan Favero, St. Petersburg
Few pay for the many
A letter writer on Nov. 19 writes that we've had the Bush tax cuts for a while and the economy isn't so good, so why extend them? The reader goes on to say that running a government is simple: collect taxes and use those taxes to pay the government's bills. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that way, and it's precisely that way of thinking that gets us in trouble.
We are a capitalistic country, and the economic carrot offered to bright, energetic and hopeful entrepreneurs is, among other things, the chance to live the American dream. A very small number of taxpayers pay the vast majority of tax into the till as a very large percentage of Americans pay no income tax at all.
The high end of taxpayers pay way more than their fair share, create jobs and have made the system work for a very long time, and along the way take very little, if any, government assistance or welfare. The lower end of the spectrum pay little, if any, taxes but like the idea of taxing the upper end more so they can have more to at least keep the system going.
What the writer just doesn't get is that we need to balance our spending with our tax income, not the other way around. Most economists agree that raising taxes in a fragile economy is not a good thing. We want to encourage job creation, and we don't want to encourage frugality in the business community because of higher taxes incurred by small business, the nation's largest source of private jobs.
Jeff Reckson, St. Petersburg
Senate leader allots power | Nov. 16
Once again the powers-that-be in Tallahassee have shown they have no imagination or sense of humor by rewarding Jim Norman with the chairmanship of the "obscure" Joint Administrative Procedures Committee, which deals with the effects of state agencies' bureaucratic decisions.
I think all would agree Norman would be much better suited to have been the head of the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee or Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections. He seems to have more experience in those areas, and it would not be the first time Tallahassee has put a fox in charge of the henhouse.
Jerry Rosen, Lutz
IRS cleared phony charity | Nov. 19
The Internal Revenue Service gave the U.S. Navy Veterans Association a "clean bill of health" and exemption from federal income taxes. We should have expected nothing less from the agency that gave the Church of Scientology tax exemption as a religion.
"Cmdr. Bobby Thompson" is undoubtedly relaxing on a South Pacific island, enjoying a cool adult beverage. Actually, he may have even purchased an island with his ill-gotten gains. After all, "charity begins at home," right? What a group of blundering fools.
David C. Cumming, Clearwater