1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: High earners don't need a break

Report: Tax plan rewards top 1% | Sept. 30

High incomes don't need a break

The current Trump administration tax plan boldly proposes a tax reduction for business while also quietly reducing taxes for wealthy individuals. It would appear that the lowest wage earners would, under the same proposal, have their income tax increased from 10 to 12 percent.

The tax rate for income over $418,000 would be reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The taxed income, of course, would be after the multiple writeoffs such as interest payments on real estate, to name only one example. This would relieve the financial burden on such struggling executives as Jeff Immelt, former CEO of General Electric, whose salary, according to the Oct. 24 Wall Street Journal, exceeded $35 million in 2016. We do not know what Immelt's final taxable income was after deductions, but excluding deductions and other income, the proposed reduction would yield a $1,610,000 savings for that one individual.

Paying exorbitant salaries to top executives is an accepted practice. I have no complaint regarding exorbitant salaries, as long as those salaries are taxed at a fair rate required to support the myriad federal expenses necessary to pay for the running of our great country. I fail to understand why these high-income individuals are favored by the Republican proposal when that party repeatedly claims to be working for the benefit of low- and mid-income people. Congressmen who vote for reducing income tax on the wealthiest citizens should not be re-elected to Washington while low-income citizens struggle to make a living.

Dave Hewitt, Parrish

Shout down hate speech | Oct. 25, letter

Provide an alternative

This letter could not be more wrong. Hate speech should not be shouted down. All that does is create a media spectacle, which is the whole purpose of these vile people who come to speak.

The way to really make a difference is to contact charities for Jewish, African-American and underprivileged causes and ask them to put a booth next to the event where these offensive people are speaking. Then let people like Richard Spencer see everyone donating to these charities. When he figures out that the public is not going to make his event newsworthy and that the people he hates are actually getting stronger because of his actions, he will change his tactics.

David Boddy, Holiday

Oil drilling

Protect Florida's coastline

It's been seven years since the BP oil spill dumped nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing fish, drowning birds, and putting in jeopardy the financial stability of thousands of residents and business owners along the Gulf Coast. This tragedy showed many Floridians that oil would never be worth the risk to our home state.

Yet leaders in the House and the Senate have once again expressed interest in the shortsighted plan to open up drilling rights in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Not only will the Gulf of Mexico barely yield enough oil and gas to sustain the United States for more than a few months, but we are again risking the very thing that Floridians hold most dear, our coastline. With another oil spill that occurred in the gulf just last week, opening up our the waters to increased drilling is the worst thing we could do.

Instead, we need our senators to stand up against misguided attempts to open up drilling rights in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. I am counting on Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to stop these plans.

Jenna Stevens, Tampa

Promising Rays stadium site | Oct. 26, editorial

Ease of access is key

While the proposed Tampa site for a new Rays stadium looks good on the surface, it does not address the reason for the Rays primary problem: low attendance. The reasons for the low attendance are location and demographics. The Tampa site is similar to the current Tropicana Field site, in that they're both difficult to get to from other parts of the area. The only way a new stadium will boost attendance is if it's easy to get to from both sides of the bay. In Pinellas County, there is open land not far from the west end of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

While the Tampa site would work for a younger demographic, the Rays must face the fact that there is a sizable older population that is looking for ease of access, and that includes available, near-by parking. Hopefully the Rays will not make the same mistake they made when choosing the Tropicana Field location.

Chuck Bayer, Redington Shores

Problem with the product

While replacing Tropicana Field is a worthy goal, Rays fans are probably more interested in supporting a winning team than in supporting a tax increase to help fund a new stadium. In order to achieve a winning record, the team's owners will have to dig a lot deeper into their pockets or attract more affluent co-owners. For example, the current World Series is being disputed by two teams whose payrolls are double (Houston Astros) or more than triple (Los Angeles Dodgers) the relatively paltry $70 million or so the Rays will spend on players in 2018. If the Rays cannot afford to compete in the player market, a new stadium, wherever it is finally erected, is hardly likely to make a difference to the team's success on the field.

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center

My role in fighting opioid abuse crisis | Oct. 24, commentary

Address these priorities

Rep. Gus Bilirakis writes, "I will continue to fight on behalf of my constituents and my community to achieve this moral imperative." I'd like to point out that there are several higher moral imperatives that he and the Republican Party should be fighting for. Try working on these: 1. income inequity; 2. health care for all; 3. tax reform that tackles Nos. 1 and 2; 4. campaign finance reform; 5. protect the environment. It time to jump all in or get out of the kitchen!

Kevin Konkler, Palm Harbor