1. Archive

Maybe Congress really does represent the American people

Maybe the trouble with the mess in Washington is that Congress really represents the people. Personal debt is at an all-time high, matching our federal debt. We all know that sometime we've got to stop borrowing more money; interest on the national debt already eats up 19 percent of our taxes, foreigners are buying up our farms and cities, but we want someone else to pay the bill. We continually elect Republican presidents and Democratic Congresses, and we complain when they don't cooperate. We elect representatives to Congress because they promise they'll "give" us more than their opponents and we re-elect them because they "brought more federal money into our district than we paid in taxes!"

We all have our favorite tax loophole, and we fight to maintain it. The rich want their reduced capital gains tax, senior citizens rebel when Medicare rates are raised, and everyone screams about increased gasoline taxes. Our savings rates and tax rates are among the lowest in the Western world, but we are unwilling to make short-term sacrifices to achieve long-range goals.

To quote our friend from the Okefenokee Swamp: "We have met the enemy and they is us."

Nelson R. Eldred

This business about not voting for incumbents in Congress seems to have caught the public's fancy, though if Congress is to be faulted at all, it is because it reflects too well its constituents. Nobody, it seems, wants to pay for the 10-year party Reagan and Bush threw on borrowed money.

If we must vote against incumbents simply because they're incumbents, I'm sure the present occupant of the White House will give us better reasons when the 1992 presidential election rolls around.

Maybe by then we will have banned all political advertising on television as injurious to the nation's political health. After all, cigarette advertising on TV is outlawed. Why not those insidious 30-second sound bytes? How far political discourse has fallen since the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Brad Miller, Homosassa

I am very much aware that it will be judged by some as semi-stupidity on my part.

Yet, I am convinced that we have to rid ourselves of our so-called "professional politicians" _ and I have voted Republican since the Eisenhower years.

Therefore, I will vote against every incumbent. Common sense tells me that the newcomers can't possibly be more inept than the present incompetents that supposedly represent us.

However, I'm also aware that my vote will be wasted. Not enough people care, and they will listen to the old argument that there presently are "only a few bad apples." Haven't recent weeks shown us that some way, somehow we have to make a change?

How about trying to turn the clock back to 1776 _ and start over?

Bob Wheat, Palm Harbor

"We won't take it anymore!" is today's slogan. I agree with it wholeheartedly, but are those writers who say it really all going to vote on Nov. 6 to "Throw the Rascals Out!" My cry is for everyone eligible to vote! vote! vote!

Mary C. Mazzella, Spring Hill

Re: None of the above should be an option at the polls, Oct. 24.

Micah L. Sifry's comments on the above subject hit the proverbial nail right on the head. Voters in this state and nation are totally fed up with the politicians and bureaucracies they have created to satisfy themselves and help them stay in power. A voter revolt is gaining momentum with the solid campaign to vote all of the incumbents out of office. We may lose a few good people, but we sure would get rid of a lot of dead wood. Perhaps then we can get some true citizens to start running this country again with a little old-fashioned common sense.

Casimer J. Smerecki, Inverness

Did you notice how members of Congress cut their pay as their contribution toward the budget reduction? Neither did I.

Leon W. Berge, Inverness

Recent reports of the furor in Washington over how to best tax the rich is not a victory for the regular taxpayer. Regardless of the method used to tax the rich, the average taxpayer is still going to find his lifestyle affected more significantly by the new tax bill than will the rich. Even more troubling to me is that I don't recall the leaders of both parties spending half as much time and effort fighting over ways to more fairly treat the average taxpayer.

Vincent Roth, Spring Hill

Charitable work

Re: Dole seeking new challenges in job as president of the Red Cross, Oct. 25.

The secretary of labor, Elizabeth Dole, will be leaving her Cabinet post of $98,000 a year.

The article states that she will be taking the post as president of the American Red Cross at $185,000 a year. It also states that Mrs. Dole has long expressed an interest in charitable work.

At about a $100,000-a-year raise in pay, that is real charitable work.

Mike Choma, St. Petersburg

Secretary Dole leaves Bush administration for high-paying Red Cross job. Old job paid $98,400 and the new job pays $185,000 a year.

Next time the Red Cross needs funds, ask Dole to dole it herself. With all the money both Doles have made in Washington, Elizabeth should take the job with no pay.

Eleanor did.

W. C. Buska, New Port Richey

Gallagher on Golden Rule

As you may know, Golden Rule Insurance Co. has gone on the attack against me with TV ads falsely accusing me of doubling Medicare supplement insurance costs. The broadcast ads also wrongly claim that I did this without holding a hearing on the matter. The ad is so misleading that I am writing to you to set the record straight.

Here are the facts:

Golden Rule has about 2,500 Medicare supplement insurance policyholders in Florida. The company's policies have been highly rated by Consumer Reports because _ if a policyholder is healthy _ it initially may be a "good buy," until the aging consumer gets sick.

With 780,000 Floridians carrying Medicare supplement insurance, obviously Golden Rule is not a major health care benefit provider to seniors. Golden Rule's significance, however, is its propensity for "bait and switch."

First, the company low-balls the price of its insurance product and signs up a healthy share of the market.

Then, as the policyholders age and their health deteriorates, Golden Rule ceases to enroll new policyholders in that "block" of business.

At the same time, Golden Rule raises its prices dramatically to pay claims, or it could otherwise face insolvency. Meanwhile, healthy policyholders switch to another company, leaving the sick people who are unable to qualify for other coverage (and/or uninformed enough to know that they should shop around). As a result, the remaining Golden Rule policyholders face an endlessly upward premium spiral.

Golden Rule submitted Medicare supplement rates for new policies to our department that were simply inadequate. We disapproved the rates. The disputed rates won't affect existing policyholders. Nor will any other company be affected.

Rather than filing a legal appeal, Golden Rule has chosen to make this a political issue. My response: No amount of political campaign intimidation, or TV ads will do Golden Rule any good.

By the way, it's not the first time this company has behaved irresponsibly. Last year, Golden Rule abruptly canceled group health insurance coverage for about 13,000 Floridians because it didn't want to provide the mandatory health benefits Florida law requires.

Elsewhere in 1989, Golden Rule sought an 85 percent rate hike on its medical insurance sold in Ohio. When state regulators there announced they would hold a public hearing on the rate request, Golden Rule "began to seek a political solution to a regulatory problem," according to Ohio Insurance Director George Fabe. The company put pressure on the Ohio legislature and the governor to override the department. It also threatened to cancel its health insurance policies with some 45,000 Ohioans. The department held firm, conducted the hearing, and ultimately approved a rate hike less than the company sought.

And again, last year, Golden Rule misled senior citizens in ads it ran in publications like the Wall Street Journal.

Tom Gallagher,

Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner,


Pity the artist

As an artist who has exhibited at area shows, I have heard complaints that we artists are "expensive" or even "ripping off the public." Naturally I am offended by that, as are other artists who hear similar complaints, so I decided that perhaps the reason people make such assumptions is that they truly don't know the facts.

To (I hope) clarify things, I have selected a painting which I exhibited and which was priced at $60. The painting, which measures 12 by 28 inches, is in a frame priced as follows: frame, $19; glass, $3.30; mat, $4.50; backing, $1.50; labor, $2, for a total of $30.30. This size painting uses a half-sheet of paper. A moderately priced sheet costs $2.50, so add $1.25 to the frame price to get a total of $31.55. Subtract that from the selling price of $60, and you get $28.

This painting took about eight hours to complete, so that's an hourly rate of $3.56, which also must pay for the paint, pencils, erasers, tape, gasoline, electricity, etc. _ and that grandiose figure is only reached if the painting is sold (which might be never). Also, when an artist exhibits, he pays for the privilege, furnishing his own display and shelter, transporting his material to the show site and home, and spending long hours waiting for a sale. Perhaps this will help to explain why there are darn few artists making a living from their work.

So, please, when you pass an artist, if you can't say something nice, at least pity the poor soul. He or she is in that small minority of people who try to bring a tad of brightness and pleasure into the world, and if they break even or come out a little ahead, that's not such a bad thing, is it?

J. Henry Krane, Homosassa

U.S. hypocrisy

So, the United States "insists" Israel allow a U.N. investigation of the Temple Mount clash (Mideast Roundup, Oct. 25.)

What rank hypocrisy! Is this the same United States that continues to ignore the World Court decision against it vis-a-vis Nicaragua?

I notice that when Jews are killed indiscriminately in Jerusalem it is not a front page story, but all criticism of Israel is. Are you waiting for another 6-million Jews to be killed before you'll give it equal time?

Robert L. Young, Dunedin


An incorrect photo ran with a letter to the editor about playright Harold Pinter on Monday, Oct. 29. Here is a correct photo of Mr. Pinter.