Honoring veterans every day
President Donald Trump recently signed a proclamation declaring November as National Veterans and Military Families Month. The proclamation asks all Americans to set aside time to honor those who served our country in uniform, along with the family members who sacrificed to support them.
While I applaud the president's actions to set aside a month to honor our veterans rather than just a day, honoring veterans is nothing new for us at James A. Haley VA Medical Center. It's what we do every day. Our 5,000 employees are dedicated to serving the health care needs of more than 94,000 veterans in four counties. We know they have choices when it comes to their health care, and we are proud they have chosen us. We want all veterans to choose VA for their care and services because VA helps the nation repay our debt to those who fulfilled citizenship's highest duty. At James A. Haley, we strive each day to keep that covenant with our veterans. A grateful nation expects nothing less from us.
Our staff works with compassion and respect, putting the veteran first in everything we do. This is our job, but it's actually much more than that. It is a privilege and an honor to remember veterans' sacrifices and to always strive to serve them as well as they served us.
Whether it's Nov. 11, the month of November, or just Tuesday, every day is Veterans Day for us. To those who have faithfully served, and to those who serve today, we thank you.
Joe D. Battle, director, James A. Haley VA Medical Center, Tampa
Trump picks Fed board member as new chairman | Nov. 3
Partisanship at the Fed
The removal of Janet Yellen as Fed chair is an example of hyper-partisanship. Although President Donald Trump has rated Yellen as excellent, he is nominating Jerome H. Powell to take her place when her term ends in February. The president's action breaks with the tradition of allowing the presiding Fed chair to remain in office.
Since Yellen and Powell are essentially on the same page when it comes to policy, it would appear that politics is behind the change.
Yellen happens to be a Democrat and Powell happens to be a Republican. When it comes to qualifications, Yellen with a Ph.D. in economics has an academic edge. So much for equal opportunity for women. Come to think of it, could there be just a wee bit of misogyny in the mix?
Ernest Bartow, St. Petersburg
Extinguish this menace | Nov. 3, letter
Smoke-free good for state
A reader wrote of his dismay with smoking at a music festival held in a public park. I too avoid these settings because I detest being forced to breathe poisoned air in order to enjoy music. The writer suggests that municipalities should write laws to ban smoking in such areas.
Unfortunately, Florida's current law on smoking in public only bans smoking in indoor places, and also allows smoking in semi-enclosed venues such as patios attached to bars and restaurants. The state law also prohibits counties and municipalities from making any laws regarding public smoking that are stricter than the state's rules. This law is the best law the tobacco industry could buy.
It is time for the state to bring this law up to current standards, first by dropping the pre-emption clause that prohibits local authorities from imposing stricter regulation, and to ban or restrict the use of tobacco in public areas such as parks and beaches. Not only would this give us all the right to breathe clean air, it would cut cleanup costs.
In a state where tourism is a major industry, we need to be able to offer smoke-free as an amenity to those coming for our public parks and beaches.
Larry Weil, Hudson
Some do well; many don't
The Republican tax bill is nothing more than a tax windfall for the rich and corporations. The Alternative Minimum Tax, which would be repealed, is the only thing that makes many rich people like President Donald Trump pay any taxes at all. Eliminating the estate tax would save his family having to pay taxes on their inheritance.
Corporate taxes will be lowered to 20 percent from 35 percent, but corporations now pay an effective rate of 19 percent because of deductions and loopholes. If the rate is cut to 20 percent and the loopholes kept, the rate would be about zero. That's nice if you're the owner or a stockholder.
As for the jobs portion of the bill, look at the Kansas experiment where the state got rid of business taxes; the result was no job increases and the state had to reinstate the taxes after going more than a billion dollars in the hole.
Joe Jones, New Port Richey
Raises of $10,000 as means to an end | Nov. 5, Perspective
Building a better society
Barry Silber's column on $10,000 raises was like a ray of sunshine penetrating the dark notion of starving government to death by cutting taxes. It reminds me of a story about the farmer who cut feed costs for his mule by mixing in sawdust. He bragged he had reached 100 percent sawdust, but a week later the ungrateful mule up and died.
Sure, taxes can always be cut, but at what cost? How will less money affect our environment, our health, our security, and yes, our schools? At what point will the system "die" or become ineffective from of lack of funds?
Silber lays out a reasonable, sane method of raising the money necessary to fund his proposals with minimum impact on our everyday lives. Currently our governor operates a tax giveaway game to lure businesses to Florida, most of which are giant losers in terms of job creators and taxes. What better way to attract businesses than to have healthy, safe, clean communities with top-notch schools and law enforcement?
The city of Largo just increased property taxes. Good for them. It shows a leadership that knows we need to properly fund the things necessary to maintain a vibrant, upscale community. You can't get from here to there without spending money. And that brings up the subject of a badly needed mass transportation system.
Alan Raun, Largo