Friday, December 15, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Wall Street plays middle class for suckers

Land grab poses risk for region | April 26, editorial

Another punch to the middle class

This "land grab" is the knockout punch for the middle class. A few years ago, Wall Street saw the banks making money on real estate loans. The Street grabbed the mortgage market and sliced and diced the now-commodified home mortgages into collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs. When the mortgage pools turned out to be fakes, it tanked the market and middle class pension funds. That was the first sucker punch.

We're now just about a minute into the second round when, in the land rush, those very same Wall Streeters, using money from the first scam, decide to swoop in and buy all of those homes whose owners they conned into foreclosure. Now, even someone with preapproved credit can't compete with their cash offers. Sorry, Joe the Plumber.

So, after they sucked the consumer dry of any equity by overinflating the housing market, they've now turned the middle class into permanent renters. Given Wall Street's predilections for taking, not giving, maintenance won't be a top priority. In fact, it will have no priority. They'll hold for a while, generating income (without associated maintenance costs) and then start selling CDOs consisting of the housing rental income streams. After that, they'll sell real estate investment trusts or mutual funds back to the consumer, and, because the investment bankers will no longer will have any economic incentive in owning the homes, they'll dump the houses (with thousands of dollars in deferred maintenance), just in time for consumers to start buying houses again.

And then the Street will start on the next scam.

Kenneth L. Weiss, Treasure Island

Pinellas tax swap benefits detailed | April 27

Commuters and corruption

We recently moved here from the Chicago area, which has a large but troubled mass transit system. There are regular commuter rail lines, suburban bus lines, city lines and the legendary "L" or elevated light rail system.

The financing of these systems and the corruption they bring to the political process is scandalous. All sorts of taxes have been used to support mass transit. There are gasoline taxes and sales taxes, which after they are enacted are always deemed inadequate. Fares also rise continuously. The transit unions are strong, aggressive and politically savvy, and know how to get what they want regardless of what is in the best interest of the public. Employment by the various transit agencies is also a source political patronage, which keeps the Democratic machine well-staffed with precinct foot soldiers.

As a new resident of Pinellas County, I will be registering to vote and will cast my vote in November against this project. There is no reason to begin the process of turning this wonderful, small piece of paradise into an overpopulated, urban political hell hole like Chicago by approving this ill-conceived light rail project.

Vance Gregory, Seminole

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

Efficient, effective transit

As someone who spends a lot of time criticizing government, I would like to compliment Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. I attended the grand opening of its compressed natural gas facility last week. The move to CNG is just another conspicuous example of HART's leadership as a steward of the people's money. Natural gas is a cleaner, safer, more cost-effective fuel alternative.

This is the same agency that asked county commissioners for $35 million to build the first rapid transit bus route between downtown and the USF campus. Metro-Rapid is a proven success and serves the same riders and route that would have been served by the rail line proposed in the failed 2010 referendum — at one-sixtieth of the cost. Then, to top it off, HART brought the project in on time and under budget, returning $6 million back to taxpayers. In the world of business, we measure success by asking, "What did you do with what you had to work with?" By that yardstick, few can match HART.

Ken Roberts, Apollo Beach

Feds' role key to rancher standoff | April 25

Welfare for ranchers

It's perversely ironic for rancher Cliven Bundy to excoriate poor people for collecting government subsidies while taking the federal government for $1 million in grazing fees. But even if he were to pay up, Bundy and his fellow ranchers would still be living on government welfare.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, livestock grazing is subsidized by federal agencies on public land in 11 Western states to the tune of nearly $300 million annually. Monthly grazing fees per cow and calf on private rangeland average $11.90, but corresponding fees on federal lands are set at a paltry $1.35.

Even so, grazing subsidies are dwarfed by other government subsidies and the medical, environmental and other external costs imposed on society by animal agriculture. These extra costs have been estimated at $414 billion annually, or $3,600 per household.

Each of us can make our $3,600 annual contribution to the common good by replacing animal products in our diet with the rich variety of grain, nut and soy-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Thomas Carter, Tampa

Charges against cop too lenient? | April 27

Frightening precedent

A sheriff's detective, Thomas Pettis, runs into the back of a car, then confronts the innocent driver, pulls a gun and punches him in the face. Pettis does this in front of witnesses, one of whom gets the event on video. A fellow officer arrives, copies the video and asks the witness to erase her original footage — something he had no right to do. Prosecutors, whom you would expect to be throwing the book at Pettis, assert that pulling the gun is self-defense? How can that be when the detective started the fight, which was over before he pulled the gun? Now this detective is being charged, not with a felony, but with much less serious offenses.

Of course, the conduct of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is being questioned, and rightly so. Had the assailant been an ordinary citizen, the details would have been released to the press. But the only way we found out about it was because your paper investigated. If all this is correct, there is no doubt that the detective is being given special treatment. It is also frightening to think that an officer could stop you, assault you and get away with a slap on the wrist.

Michele Elliott, St. Petersburg


Friday’s letters: Put yourself in a business owner’s shoes

GOP plan favors owners | Dec. 11Perils of small business ownersI wonder if the author of this article has even a clue about owning a business. Businessmen — especially small business owners — risk it all. They risk their savings, their car, their...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17