Thursday, November 23, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Border tax would hit consumers hard


Tax policy

Border tax hits consumers hard

While the House Republicans' "Better Way for Tax Reform" blueprint includes positive aspects like lower corporate tax rates, it also includes a Border Adjustment Tax, a proposal that goes against everything their constituents voted for.

BAT is a protectionist policy that picks winners and losers by levying a 20 percent tax on imports while exempting exports. It is a national sales tax that will hit consumers in their wallets.

Because retailers will pass their costs on to consumers, many families could take a hit of around $1,700 in the first year of BAT, taking away from college funds or mortgage payments.

Approximately 9 percent of Florida's economy is supported by imports, including everything from phones to perfumes to bananas. In fact, bananas are a prime example of the impact of the BAT. Florida imports $483 million worth of bananas each year, so consumers can expect the price of bananas to rise, along with that of many other foods and clothing.

In our hurricane-prone state, most reinsurance money comes from foreign investors and would be subject to BAT tax hikes. Florida TaxWatch calculated rates could increase for families by almost 13 percent, leaving them less money to spend and save and ultimately resulting in less economic activity for Florida's recovering economy.

While proponents sell the BAT as a "Made in America" tax to incentivize companies to stay in the United States, real life is more complicated than academic theory.

Republicans, be warned. The BAT is founded on flawed logic that would have devastating consequences. Levying a tax on consumers will not strengthen the American economy; it will cost Republicans across the country their seats. Simply put, many of my fellow Republicans seem to have forgotten that the ends do not always justify the means.

John Giotis, Clearwater

Zika outbreak

New mosquito controls

As we enter the warm summer months, the threat of another Zika outbreak in Florida is looming. That is why I have and will continue to urge the federal government to quickly authorize new strategies that can be used to both curb the spread of the virus and prevent additional outbreaks.

The mosquitoes that spread Zika are called Aedes aegypti. It is an invasive species and uniquely built to spread disease because it loves living in and around our homes and it loves to feed off humans rather than other mammals.

Besides Zika, it spreads a number of other diseases — yellow fever and dengue, just to name two. International travel and warm weather only increase the chance that these diseases are not only here to stay, but that we will continue to see more outbreaks.

While ongoing research for a vaccine is imperative, we can't only focus on a solution that will cost billions of dollars and that won't be ready for years. I think we should be focused on the root of the problem — identifying new, innovative solutions to cut down on the population of Aedes aegypti. Some of those solutions already exist today.

One example of the technology I've advocated for is the Oxitec genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquito. When it is released into the wild, it doesn't bite, it doesn't transmit disease, but does transmit a self-limiting gene that makes its offspring die before reaching adulthood.

This technology is being used successfully in some countries already. If we had it available here, we would have one less thing to be anxious about.

So as we enter into the summer months, I urge Floridians everywhere to take a few minutes to learn how to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases by going to the websites of the CDC or the Florida Department of Health.

State Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

The writer is speaker of the Florida House.

Board's latest crisis: lack of money | May 11

Step up enforcement

I read this headline in bewilderment. As a licensed Florida general contractor, I compete and work every day in Pinellas County facing unlicensed, uninsured "contractors." They're easy to spot on Pinellas County roads. It's usually a weighty unmarked pickup truck pulling an unmarked white double- or single-axle enclosed trailer. That vehicle-rig would constitute a Pinellas County citation of $500 for either a contractor working without a license or a licensed contractor working without proper display of a license number.

How can an agency that operates solely on fees and fines be in this predicament when it could easily enforce the law, even the playing field for legitimate contractors and protect residents? The notion of fixing this by increasing the license fee to contractors is appalling. The agency had a $274,000 shortfall in the current fiscal year. Based on fines and 261 workdays in a year, that is just over two citations short per day. That shortfall could be attained daily within the few blocks surrounding its midcounty location. Increase enforcement and fix the capability of the agency to collect the fees.

Paul C. Boyll, St. Petersburg


Friday’s letters: Find private investors for a new stadium

Opening offer from Rays on stadium sounds too low | Nov. 17, editorialFind private investors for stadiumThe Rays "offered" to pay 18.75 percent of the costs? How outrageously presumptuous to say that they offered! Put another way, they demanded t...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Thursday’s letters: Tax plan won’t help wages

Tax billThis won’t help stagnant wagesThe unfair tax proposal that cuts taxes for the rich and most powerful and cuts the ability of working people to claim any comparable deductions is no more than another greedy power grab by the rich and powerful....
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Wednesday’s letters: Breaking down health data

Don’t let news on blood pressure raise yours | Nov. 17, commentaryBreaking down health numbersThank you for publishing the timely commentary by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch on blood pressure. The point he makes about relative risks versus absolute risks ...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Tuesday’s letters: Disgraceful tax proposals

Tax billDisgraceful, harmful proposalsThe very fact that the Congress of the people of the United States would propose, not to mention pass, the current tax bill is nothing short of disgraceful. What sort of representatives of the people support cutt...
Published: 11/20/17

Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Friday’s letters: Stop laying blame on teachers

Hillsborough teachers are set to protest | Nov. 14Stop laying blame on teachersI am a veteran teacher, coming up on 30 years of service to public education. My mother was also an educator, clocking over 40 years of service in public education. Sh...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Nov. 17

Questioning fees draws snarky responseYou are probably aware of the new Pasco utility fees that became effective last month.Under the dubious title of "convenience fee" for making utility payments by credit card or e-check, Pasco Utilities adds $2.75...
Published: 11/15/17

Dollars need to stay at home if south Brooksville is to survive

As a member of the Moton High School Class of 1967, I grew up a poor but very happy child because of the love given to me by all. So all I had to do was be a child and not rush to be an adult.There were many black businesses along a four-block area o...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/22/17