Your Oct. 30 editorial, Unfair share, completely misrepresented the facts surrounding Florida's tax laws.
Florida's tax structure is based on the principle that businesses should shoulder their fair share of the tax burden while at the same time operating within a climate that encourages their success. Florida has consistently ranked as one of the most business-friendly states in the nation. The ability of the state to attract and retain businesses of all sizes only increases revenue that is generated for the state. Increasing the tax burden may raise revenue in the short term, but it will ultimately hinder growth and force businesses to leave our state, resulting in less revenue, higher unemployment and cuts to state services.
This philosophy is working in Florida. The Sunshine State has led the nation in job growth for the past 19 months. We've created more than 96,000 jobs from September 2002 to September 2003 and our unemployment rate of 5.2 percent continues to drop. Also, Florida tax collections in fiscal year 2002-2003 were $250-million more than anticipated. Tax revenue is projected to grow by $82-million this fiscal year, with another $168-million next year.
While corporate income taxes are a smaller proportion of state revenues today than in 1972, it's mostly because Florida's sales tax was 4 percent in 1972 and is 6 percent today. The Times expresses amazement that most Florida businesses don't pay corporate income tax. In fact, most Florida businesses aren't corporations.
Like most citizens, most businesses take advantage of all tax benefits allowed by law. The Times itself uses state and federal depreciation provisions to lower its tax bill substantially. While there's nothing wrong with that, there is a great deal wrong with encouraging high taxes that shackle Florida's economic growth.
Jeb Bush, governor, Tallahassee
Raise taxes, escape the blame
Re: Corporate income tax.
At last! Thanks to the Oct. 30 lead editorial in the Times (Unfair share) and the recent analysis by Sydney P. Freedberg (Loophole Inc., Oct. 26), the politicos now have been shown a way to raise taxes and deflect the blame for doing so at the same time. By taxing corporations, additional revenue is created to pay for governmental services, and the general populace applauds these politicians for levying taxes on these "evil" corporations. The corporations in turn pass their costs along to the unwary consumer (imagine that!), and the only entity that can ever actually be taxed (the taxpayer _ you and me) picks up the tab. These companies can also elect to move their financial operations abroad, and guess who once again is left to pay the taxes.
Meanwhile, the cost of the washer and dryer at Home Depot does indeed go up, as does the phone bill from Verizon, and every other corporate product or service. When corporations do not have to pass along their tax burdens to the consumer, they are more likely to stick around and create jobs; the current situation in California is a good example of what an antibusiness climate can produce.
John West, Indian Shores
Sneaking in the back door
Re: Corporate taxes.
Well the Times strikes again. I do not understand why the media insist on repeating the propaganda put out by the politicians. Corporations have never paid taxes and they never will. Taxes are just part of doing business as are labor costs, insurance, raw materials etc., and they pass their costs along to the consumer. When taxes rise, so does the cost of goods and services. But it sounds good when one of our elected officials screams "Corporations do not pay their fair share."
What they are really saying is: Let's raise corporate taxes, which is really a stealth rise in income taxes, and those boobs that vote for us won't know we have our hands in their pockets again. Rather than face the ire of the voters, they continue to sneak in the back door, and the majority continue to buy it. What a shame someone in the media doesn't get honest and tell the truth about corporate taxes.
Warren Wasmer, South Pasadena
Tax cuts spur economic growth
Re: Robust 7.2% growth gives economy a jolt,
This sizzling 7.2 percent growth in the gross domestic product for the third quarter should prove once and for all that letting Americans keep more of their hard-earned money via tax cuts leads to robust economic growth. It worked during Ronald Reagan's presidency and it is working now. Supply-side economics triumphs again!
Anthony M. Greco, St. Petersburg
Squeezing in a negative spin
It was surprising that the large headline on the Oct. 31 Page 1 of the Times said, Robust 7.2% growth gives economy a jolt. But it wasn't surprising that the secondary headline says, "Spending drove the third-quarter boost, which allays concerns about deflation but isn't expected to last" (emphasis mine).
I'm sure you didn't expect to see 7.2 percent growth in the third quarter either.
I'll give you credit for finding a way to put a negative viewpoint on the largest quarterly growth in gross domestic product since the first quarter of 1984 _ some 19 years ago.
M.A. Elliott, St. Petersburg
Give thanks to those "rich' people
Re: Economic growth.
Don't you just love rich people? Especially those rich people who, we were told by Democrat naysayers, would be the only ones benefiting from President Bush's tax cuts. Fact is, everyone who pays taxes got a reduction, but that didn't stop those Democrat politicians from ranting and raving about those nasty rich people. They didn't seem to realize that with their humongous salaries and hefty pay raises every year they are big time rich people.
But we really have to give them credit: They all must have done a lot of shopping in the last few months to bring about the highest annual economic growth rate (7.2 percent) in the last 20 years.
It will be interesting to see what negative "spin" the sky-is-falling Democrats put on this good news. I'll bet those nine nebbish candidates are quickly revising their stump speeches in which they've been promising to do away with all or part of the Republican tax cuts.
And be sure to thank the next rich person you run into for doing so much to help our economy. Actually, to find one all you have to do is look in the mirror.
Mary L. Wright, Brooksville
The president's sound leadership
Recent developments highlight the principled leadership of President Bush. On taxes, economists agree that President Bush's tax relief is fueling economic growth by putting money back into the pockets of families and small-business owners. We're already seeing its effects in new jobs, renewed economic growth and a booming stock market.
President Bush is bringing freedom and hope to an oppressed people. Last month, the U.N. Security Council _ including France and Germany _ unanimously passed a resolution in support of the rebuilding of Iraq. President Bush is bringing freedom and hope to an oppressed people. This is leadership, something that was lacking in the previous administration.
Ed Sullivan, Seminole
It won't help to hide the homeless
Re: Designate areas for the homeless, letter, Nov. 3.
The homeless are a product of our society today. We all need to help with their plight. Pushing the homeless out of sight will not help our problem.
It is really just too bad for the taxpayers who must see the homeless in the parks. Sometimes reality stinks. We live in the saddest of times, not in a fairy tale.
We need homes for these people, jobs for these people and rehabilitation for these people. The homeless cannot be swept under the carpet and hidden away. The homeless are part of our lives and we must play with the hand we've been dealt.
The homeless do not appear to be diminishing, but growing in numbers. We need to remember that homelessness is created by many reasons and situations and that, regardless of the reasons, the homeless are human beings in our world, citizens of our country, and members of our communities. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Judith Ruffner, Largo
Bronze Stars are devalued
I read your article showing several people receiving the Bronze Star. First, it was Jessica Lynch, who was party to a snafu and then received the Bronze Star. Now more undeserving people are decorated with the Bronze Star. I say "undeserving" because the standards as I knew them would never have allowed the Bronze Star to be awarded in either case.
I was a member of the 464th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, flying bombing missions out of Italy during World War II. Flying missions over the Ploesti oil fields was about as close to suicide as you could get. I could give you the names of 354 men killed in action from the group _ no Bronze Stars. Another 1,000 who were POWs and endured the winter of 1945 walking across Germany. No Bronze Stars.
The military and the media should cease this mockery. I'm sure that veterans everywhere cringe when they see these public relations ploys.
Robert E. Haverkos, Dunedin
Electorate grows more fickle
Re: Who needs platforms? We have heroes, by Diane Roberts, Oct. 20.
Diane Roberts portrayed the present environment of political campaigning quite thoughtfully; the article is so accurate. She mentioned "it's 21st century persona politics, and it plays well with citizens who have neither the time nor the inclination fo think more than one step beyond the image."
It would be a refreshing change if voters were to take the time, and did have the inclination to thoughtfully consider the candidates (no small deed when allied with the possibility of accomplishment _ should they be elected to office). They might even establish valid opinions. They could develop firm opinions in the manner of those held by Margaret Thatcher (she was noted for not even considering a U-turn).
But as conditions have deteriorated, voters have begun to use the standards flippantly that they had applied to marriage, and are now applying them to state elections. Some had married for what was supposedly to be a relatively lasting period; yet before the marriage is even one year along, one says, "I changed my mind." Now some voters elect someone to serve for a specified number of years but after the person has served just a few months, some voters begin saying, "I changed my mind."
Daniel A. Kessner, Clearwater
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