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  1. Opinion

Whatever happened to all those free-trade Republicans?

Here’s what readers had to say in Tuesday’s letters to the editor.

‘Free-trade’ GOP lays on the tariffs

Tariffs hit Europeans | Oct. 19

Tariffs are our new normal. The United States now has trade restrictions and/or tariffs with nearly every one of our major trading partners. They’re for a variety of reasons, and each will have a proponent who can articulate why it’s the “right thing to do,” whatever that means. Underneath all the politicking and justifications is the reality that tariffs are a blunt tool, and there are very few blunt tools that produce real results. Blunt tool, blunt results. In this case, the World Trade Organization (WTO) gave the United States permission to impose $7.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs in response to illegal European subsidies to Airbus that hurt its American rival, Boeing. This dispute goes back 15 years. Sounds reasonable, but the tariffs are not just on Airbus but are also being imposed on European businesses that have little or nothing to do with Airbus. Why should European vintners and farmers be penalized for issues in the aircraft industry? What harm is it doing Airbus and what good is it doing Boeing? This is one of the most egregious examples of using the blunt tool of tariffs with zero chance of addressing the original issue. Let’s not forget that tariffs are a tax that you and I pay at the retail level. Republicans are supposed to be against arbitrary taxation and are strong supporters of removing business restrictions wherever possible. But “free trade” has magically morphed into backdoor taxation and business restrictions. The net result is confusion and chaos. Not good.

Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport

Not learning on the job

Rebukes lead to Doral pullback | Oct. 21

Trump National Doral. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he is reversing his plan to hold the next Group of Seven world leaders' meeting at his Doral golf resort. [ALEX SANZ | AP]

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump had chosen his own Trump National Doral Miami resort for the G-7 conference because he still considers himself to be in the “hospitality business” even though he is president. Nearly three years after his election, Trump still has no idea how to be a president. As he would say: Sad.

Christoper Radulich, Apollo Beach

Manatee fronts Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay brand carries an obligation | Editorial, Oct. 21

Can someone explain why when counties are listed for “Tampa Bay,” one of the three counties that actually borders the bay — Manatee — is never included, but Pasco and sometimes even Hernando are?

LeRoy Dennison, Riverview

No right to own a home

Low-cost housing plans stalled | Oct. 6

Home builder Jim Reynolds wants to help the county's affordable housing crisis by building 19 low-cost homes on a 5-acre lot just outside the city of Tampa. But to get approval from the county, he must work with one of three non-profit groups to find buyers. That has proved to be a roadblock with two of the groups declining to get involved and the third failing to return more than a dozen phone calls. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

There’s been lots of talk in politics about affordable housing. Owning a house is a dream, but it’s not a requirement or a right. Plenty of people rent apartments, houses, condos/townhouses, etc. with no intention of becoming an owner because they don’t want the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep that’s a required element of ownership. A recent check of St. Petersburg alone of several popular real estate services on the internet brought some surprising info. There were 99 listings at or below $50,000. Maybe the listings were for a small one bed/one bath condo or a mobile home, maybe the listings were not in the best neighborhoods, but that’s not the issue if one is arguing affordability. Politicians like to wave the “owning your own home is a right” banner to get votes. Ownership beyond one’s means is what caused the housing crash in the last decade.

Debi Ford, St. Petersburg