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Your letters

Your opinions on Business news

By Times Staff
Published June 3, 2007


Feasting in a down market May 27

These home investors are vultures

You know, I believe every man has a right to earn a legal dollar any way he chooses. But if he chooses to rob unfortunate homeowners of years of equity by offering them a pittance of their home's true value, he's a vulture.

Jack Karpan, New Port Richey

'Fixes' for insurance crisis are doubtful May 27

Collusion possible in reinsurance business

Tom Zucco missed one crucial point: Neither Florida nor any other state can successfully "fix" the insurance crisis so long as the insurance business is exempt from federal antitrust regulation.

Because the insurance business is exempt from federal antitrust regulation by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, the major firms that handle reinsurance nationally can and do collude on risk assessment and rate-setting in ways that would be illegal in any other industry.

The major national insurance companies made their greatest profits during 2005 and 2006 while Florida homeowners and businesses suffered losses so great that we have spent three legislative sessions talking about insurance rates.

The Insurance Industry Competition Act Senate Bill 618 and House Bill 1081 is designed to force insurance companies to be more forthcoming. Readers can support that effort by urging their representatives and senators to join the effort as cosponsors. Readers can also sign my petition to this effect:

Alvin W. Wolfe, Lutz

Daunting debt, creative ideas May 26

Homeowners need to accept responsibility

We used to live in St. Petersburg before the current price spikes. The longer I am around, the more I am amazed at the seemingly crazy decisions folks are making in regards to home ownership. Everyone is different and has their own set of priorities and that's cool, but man, it seems like every time I read an article about the state of the housing situation that it ends up placing most of the responsibility of those in less than comfortable situations on the loan/financing industry, the government and the building industry.

One would automatically assume that the real responsibilities of a person's fiscal situation would rest in the hands (literally) of the one that signs on the dotted line. However, this is not what is being reported. Rather, the unfortunate are to be sympathized with and those that "take advantage of them" are to be chastised for offering a product too deceptively attractive to resist.

I only wish that folks making good choices got as much press as those that do not.

Rob Judd, Stafford, Va.

Energy saving innovators May 28

We need more energy innovators like them

This is one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking articles I have ever read in the Business section. We surely need more innovators and investors to improve energy efficiency throughout our economy. Improved fuel efficiency ideas that are feasible could reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

Wrigley horse farm shows bubble hasn't burst May 30

You can set the price as high as you want

I just had to write when I read this and other similar stories in your newspaper lately. We are trying to sell a house by ourselves in Largo, priced at $165, 500. The only calls we get are from Realtors, wanting us to sign a contract and sell it for us. A Realtor can't even sell the house next door, at a similar price range. We even put a pricey three-day ad in your paper and only got Realtor calls. The story says Wrigley is selling the farm and asking triple of what he paid two years ago! Nowhere in the article did it say "He Sold It" for $85-million! We could double or triple the price on the house we are selling. It doesn't mean we are going to get it.

I have been laid off from my job of almost six years because of a downturn in the housing market. I was a superintendent for a reputable home builder here. So I can tell you how things really are. Subcontractors are dropping their prices, wanting to keep their employees working. Building material prices have dropped dramatically. At least till the next hurricane. Please don't print such hog wash anymore.

Gigi Phillips, Largo

A new spin on royalties May 29

Royalty seekers threaten small providers

I am pleased to finally find a story in your paper regarding the royalty rate debate, though it would have been preferable to see local treatment of the issue, instead of a Los Angeles Times reprint. I think the posturing of the music industry in targeting broadcast radio for the payment of royalties on behalf of performers and recording companies - in addition to those paid for authors and composers - began with heavy lobbying that resulted in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This, in turn, led to these obligations being imposed on satellite radio, and now the emerging new media called Internet radio. Having established a precedent in these areas, music lawyers see broadcast radio as the next logical step in reversing the long established practice of seeking airplay for recorded music for its promotional value - which has been the basis for the exemption of performance royalties for generations of American radio listeners - and charging radio stations instead for the privilege of using their copyrighted product.

There was one item in your story that barely scratches the surface of a fight that has been going on over the past few months (and was fought in an episode just a few years ago). As far as I can tell, these battles have not drawn the attention of anyone in your editorial departments.

The latest saga is over enormous increases in royalties imposed under a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board in early March of this year affecting Internet radio stations. As proposed by the music industry, through the Recording Industry Association of America and its royalty collection brotherhood, known as the Sound Exchange, small music streaming Web sites are faced with being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars, even with very small audiences of less than a thousand listeners. Larger internet stations, such as Pandora, Radio Paradise, Live365 and others are looking at rates in the millions. No wonder many such operations have had to face the reality of bankruptcy or simply shutting down.

Recently a proposal has been suggested, which has not been officially adopted, that may provide relief for those of us in the very small category, but the big picture is that record companies are playing rough with new media, and are aiming their guns at broadcasters.

Times: Thank you for taking an interest in this development that affects the very foundation and future of music in the Tampa Bay area, Florida and the entire nation.

Rick Crandall, St. Petersburg

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[Last modified June 1, 2007, 18:59:06]

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