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    Letters to the Editors

    Voters deserve a chance to decide on tax reform


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 28, 2002

    Re: Clouds gather over McKay plan, Jan. 22.

    Nothing could make the choice for tax reform clearer to the residents of this state than the recent pronouncement from the Council of 100. The Council of 100 is a coalition of the state's major business leaders and is often used to lend legitimacy to the far-right agenda of Gov. Jeb Bush and his Republican cronies. The council's statement against tax reform and for maintaining the status quo, shows the depths of the monied elite's disdain for the democratic process.

    The council claims that, "Floridians expect legislators to make the tough decisions, not pass them along to voters." Of course this is obvious to the Council of 100.

    The Council of 100, having invested so heavily in campaign cash, does not trust the voters and the democratic process. This shows that the council understands, that if given a chance, the voters just might actually see through their transparent attempt to suppress democracy in order to protect their tax exemptions.

    Let us not allow the undemocratic elements in society to suppress our rights to make the tough decisions for ourselves. Call or write your state legislators today. Vote yes for tax reform. Let's move Florida into the 21st century.
    -- John O. Collins, St. Petersburg

    A short-sighted position

    Re: Clouds gather over McKay's tax proposal, Jan. 22 and Tax reform, maybe later, editorial, Jan. 23.

    Thank you for Tuesday's informative article and Wednesday's editorial about the Florida Council of 100's decision to oppose Senate President John McKay's tax reform plan.

    Why am I not surprised about the council's opposition? So many times these so-called "leaders" of Florida's largest and most influential businesses take positions that are so short-sighted and so self-serving they forfeit any right to claim they are "leaders" of anything.

    If their short-range decisions meant to favor their own organizations have a detrimental long-range affect on everyone around their organization, that larger negative impact will ultimately weaken their own organization. So many of Florida's so-called leaders in both business and politics just don't seem to understand this basic truth.

    Florida's broadcast and print media have also decided to take the short view and oppose McKay's tax reform proposal by waging a war of words over the airwaves and in print. Their antitax-reform ads are so outrageously misleading I am certain they do not meet the standards the law requires for truth in advertising.

    Contrary to the Council of 100's request, we don't need any more "studies" of Florida's tax structure. It has been studied to death, and every study has reached the same conclusion -- we desperately need tax reform to broaden the tax base and stabilize revenue collection during economic downturns. Sen. McKay is on the right track, and anyone in business or politics who truly cares about this state will support his efforts.
    -- Don Macneale, St. Petersburg

    Beware of this phony tax 'cut'

    In pushing his Florida "tax reform" package Senate President John McKay makes an interesting observation: In 1949, with a population of 2.25-million, we had a biennial budget of $240-million. Today, with a population approaching 17-million, the annual state budget is approximately $50-billion.

    This means that in 1949 the cost of the state government was less that $54 per annum per capita. Today it is close to $3,000 per annum per capita, or 55 times as much as it was in 1949.

    Of course inflation is a factor, but not much. Based on inflation alone the 1949 per capita budget figure of $54 today would have grown to be approximately $400, not $3,000. And the state still doesn't have enough revenue to properly educate our children.

    Sen. McKay's claim that his proposal is "revenue neutral," while at the same time saying most households would realize overall tax cuts averaging $110, is disingenuous at best. In the end all -- all -- taxes are paid by the general populace, the consumers. Businesses and corporations may be the conduits, but they get it from their customers. If supermarkets have to pay a tax on their advertising, like any other cost of doing business, they are going to collect it from their customers.

    We all, directly or indirectly, make use of the services rendered by architects, attorneys, accountants, advertisers, etc., and in the end, make no mistake about it, we will pay any taxes levied upon those services.

    Sen. McKay is right that the hodgepodge of sales tax exemptions needs to be looked at and reforms made, but let's be honest about it; his proposals are aimed toward eventually raising more revenue for the state, more than that already being provided by the growth in population. Whether or not that is a laudable goal is another question, but let's not try to sell it by holding out the carrot of a phony "tax cut."
    -- Sydney K. Potter, Tampa

    Working immigrants shouldn't need aid

    Re: Food stamps for immigrants, editorial, Jan. 16.

    Your editorial saying that immigrants play a critical role in American economic and social life and therefore should be allowed to get food stamps is a failure of logic. Immigrants who work and are contributing to society receive salaries that should be at least minimum wage and should not need food stamps. The immigrants who are unemployed and expecting to be supported at public expense do not contribute to the American economy. They take from it.

    I think that while American citizens may be entitled to public assistance, noncitizens who have come here because they seek a better life than they had back home should work and create that better life for themselves. They should not expect to get a free ride from our government. That should not be the American way.
    -- Michael Otto, Oldsmar

    Take care of veterans first

    Re: Food stamps for immigrants, Jan. 16.

    Before we bankrupt this country, let's take care of our veterans, those who have sacrificed life and limb for the freedoms we enjoy. My grandparents came to this country not looking for, nor accepting handouts from the government. They worked the sweat shops, the mills, the factories and did the domestic work. They didn't receive food stamps, free health care, free education for their children in the name of "diversity" and quotas. Not to mention Social Security and Supplemental Security Income.

    What they got in return, was the Great Depression and sons and daughters who served in World War II. They came looking for what they could give to this country, not what they could get. So the next time the Times wants to spend my hard-earned tax dollars, may I suggest that we take care of our vets first. And for those citizens like myself who vote, I hope our members of Congress and the president are listening.
    -- Margaret Bowen, Oldsmar

    What happened to recess?

    What are we doing to our children?

    We send them off to school, not knowing what they do -- in this case, don't do -- all day long. I recently had the pleasure of having my grandson during a school week, taking him to school and picking him up after school. He is 6 years old and is in the first grade. When he got in the car after school, I was talking with him about his day and what he did. I asked him about recess and he asked, "What is recess?"

    I explained it is when you go outside and play ball or London Bridge, Drop the Handkerchief or Mother, May I. He said, "We don't have time for that."

    This is when I started talking with his parents and others to find out if this was true. I just couldn't believe they expect 6-year-old children to sit still for six hours a day in a classroom. They do have physical education at least once a week -- big deal! They do not get out daily for fresh air and sunshine or to run off their bottled-up energy. Still, the teachers expect them to sit still, and if they don't, then they want the parents to drug them so they will. No wonder so many children are on medication to alter their "natural" behavior.

    We are not allowing our young children to be children; we expect them to act like adults. I say if they don't have enough time during the day, then extend the school day to allow time.

    They begin school at 8 a.m. and go to lunch at 10:30 a.m., and we wonder why they don't eat well. They should go outside to work up an appetite at 10:30 and then go to lunch so they will eat a decent meal. And for those children who do eat well, sit all day and gain weight, then we wonder why our young children are overweight -- they don't have time for recess. Then they have homework every night, from first grade throughout their entire school years. Therefore, when they get home from school, they don't have time to play because they have to do their homework.

    Come to find out this has been going on for years -- that our children don't have time for recess -- so I can't blame the FCAT. I do feel we are pushing and pushing our children and expecting more and more from them. No wonder they are burned out by middle school and suicidal by high school.
    -- Janine Jones, Redington Shores

    A welcome focus on population

    Re: Pregnancy prevention is no threat, Jan. 19.

    I had to write and thank you for your wonderful editorial. As treasurer for the Committee on Population Ecology, I am very concerned about the state of a world in which population numbers are exploding.

    I have e-mailed and called President Bush to encourage him to support funding the United Nations Population Fund because to do anything else is to fan the fires of overpopulation that threaten to consume more resources than we can possibly create.

    Studies have shown that when women are educated they tend to choose to have smaller families and are thereby better able to provide for their children's individual needs. Sadly, the parts of the world in which there is the greatest threat of death by malnutrition are the very areas where population growth is the highest. Providing aid to these countries without teaching them about family planning options is a little like shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped.

    Thank you again for all you do to educate others about the importance of these issues.
    -- Julie Brandt, treasurer, Committee on Population Ecology, Indian Rocks Beach

    About that postal scooter

    Re: Postal scooter raises ire, letter, Jan. 22.

    As a retired postal employee, I think I can assure your readers that the Postal Service is not looking into the use of the "It" motorized cart to make the lives of letter carriers easier. My guess is that Postal Service officials are hoping that its use will enable them to increase the size of each carrier's route and, thus, allow a reduction in the number of carriers needed.

    After all, the cost of the "It" at $3,000 each is a lot less than the cost of wages and benefits for carriers. Of course, that would have an effect on the job market.
    -- Judith Lewis, Largo

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