Letters to the editor: April 20, 2010

Here are letters to the editor from Daily News editions of April 20, 2010:

Letter of the Day: What does that tell you?

Editor, Daily News:

The Associated Press reported last week that 47 percent of American households don’t pay any income tax. The reasons: Incomes are too low or their liability is limited by credits, deductions or exemptions. Compare that to the figures showing that 10 percent of all earners, (those making $366,400 or more) pay 73 percent of the income taxes paid to the federal government. “The result,” says the AP, “is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education.”

This is unfair and counterproductive to the concept of citizen responsibility. It enervates the real ideal of patriotism, contributing instead to the entitlement mentality which afflicts so many of us. Whatever happened to former President John F. Kennedy’s ringing challenge, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can do for your country.”

The quote may not be exact, but the message is clear. Every American should have a stake in his country. This is but one example of how far out of balance our national priorities have become.

It is long past time to repair the damage! Flat tax, anyone?

— Jan D. Curran

Naples and Neuberg, Germany

Daily News’ three R’s

Editor, Daily News:

Rabid reprobates of the right continue to dominate your columns.

Is your editorial slip showing perhaps a bit of bias? Can your penchant for accommodating these habitual spokesmen be called anything else?

Your two partisan plow horses, Donavin A. Baumgartner Jr. and Andrew R. Joppa, lead off last Thursday’s letters. Is this preferential placement on tea party day mere coincidence?

We are anxiously awaiting your coverage of Naples’ own tea partiers, strutting their stuff, short on ideas and long on polemics, perhaps with commentary from Jack Tymann. That would complete the troika that seems to pull your ideological wagon.

Baumgartner wants a flat tax to replace the progressive income tax. The progressive tax, advocated by 18th-century father of capitalism Adam Smith, has been used here for almost a century for good reasons, and is in universal use in Western industrial countries.

The flat tax, despite attractive features, favors the rich. Concentration of wealth will continue, shifting political and economic power, promoting social injustice.

Joppa says liberals misinterpret the Constitution. The Supreme Court does that for us all and it is conservatively composed, as it has been many times in our history. America is not the product of any one party or belief, it is the product of its own long history, of both triumph and failure.

Joppa sees Democrats attempting to deliberately create an underclass. One might just as easily argue that Republicans have fomented a moneyed upperclass that controls the country, and that their politics are designed to maintain that status.

— H.C. Klingman

Naples

Deja vu

Editor, Daily News:

I can’t help but wonder as I drive past the tea-party fans, aren’t these the same people who, 40 years ago, shouted at anti-war demonstrators: “Love it or leave it”?

— Missy Layfield

Naples

‘Block party gone awry’

Editor, Daily News:

Re: Tea party road hazard.

While traveling Thursday on U.S. 41 heading north at 12:30 p.m., I encountered a massive backup near the intersection of Pine Ridge Road.

To my amazement, hundreds of people from the tea party movement were massing on the traveling public, causing unnecessary delays and at times the possibility of an accident.

Where were our police? I called and was directed to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. The person who answered said they had someone there. I saw no police cars or uniformed policemen present when I went through the intersections.

This was a major block party gone awry at the public’s safety’s expense. Why does the driving public have to endure this event whenever the tea-party members want to throw their anger at us (the driving public)?

Take it to a park where it’s safe.

— Dean LaVigne

Naples

All have roles to play

Editor, Daily News:

To all my brothers and sisters who attended the tea party rally in Naples: Sorry I missed you and could not be there to support you.

I was working to pay my taxes.

— Joe Funigiello

Naples

CalIing all patriots

Editor, Daily News:

The Daily News reported that 47 percent of American families do not pay federal income tax. That means just over 50 percent of families are carrying the federal income tax burden for the entire country.

USA Today has given the value of federal unfunded debt as $59 trillion, while other sources are as high as $107 trillion. An estimate of debt per individual for members of families who actually pay federal income tax yields an astounding result. You are on the hook for nearly $750,000 per person; so a family of four owes about $3 million.

Unless you are a lobbyist or big money, you are not a constituent. Sure, politicians want your vote on election day, but just write a letter to your senator or representative and see what you get in response.

If you believe as our Founding Fathers did, that one has the right to private property and the fruits of one’s labor, then the republic needs your help as a patriot.

The first thing is to get your rear off the couch and do something. Join one of the peaceful revolutions like Get Out Of Our House (GOOOH). Our voices are beginning to have an effect in Washington, and we need to increase the volume through peaceful means by increased numbers of taxpayers.

Visit www.GOOOH.com to learn more about this new and exciting way to replace the House of Representatives with people who will represent you, the constituent.

Get active. You can make a difference.

— David Hull

Naples

Could it be ... ?

Editor, Daily News:

The level of vitriol and outright hatred directed at the president is stunning.

The tea partiers claim they are angry at government, but government is not your enemy.

The big banks, credit-card companies and greedy insurance companies are more of a threat to your financial freedom. The government tries, not always successfully, to regulate the powerful to give the average Joe a place at the table.

Look at the bonuses paid by brokerage companies with taxpayer money. That doesn’t make you angry? The number of businesses and individuals that use loopholes to reduce or avoid taxes, that’s OK?

Sure, government taxes to provide needed services, like any civilized country. When I look at the faces of the tea-party protesters, I see mostly older white folks, and I wonder where they have been all these years. Why protest now? After all, taxes for most Americans are at their lowest level in 50 years. What has stirred up your anger after so many decades of “big government”?

I suspect it’s racism. I can’t find any other “different” factor.

— Bob Elwell

Naples and Cape Cod, Mass.

Making a difference

Editor, Daily News:

This Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an American-inspired movement to create global awareness of our natural resources and the environment.

It’s typically celebrated by planting a tree. But in recent years, there’s been a shift from what we can do in our backyards to what international climate conferences can do on a global level.

The backlash of this ambitious, large-scale initiative is that the number of grass-roots events to reduce pollution has decreased and been replaced with finger-pointing at nations that disregard their environmental responsibility.

I think we can create better outcomes by reducing waste locally.

With that in mind, there is a simple community event in Naples planned for Earth Day that lets you take part in reducing our collective waste. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., residents and businesses are encouraged to bring their discarded electronics — e-waste — and expired or unused over-the-counter and prescription medications to Advanced Medical Center at 1250 Pine Ridge Road, east of U.S. 41 and west of Goodlette-Frank Road.

With the support of the Naples Solid Waste Division, which will also be collecting e-waste at its Goodlette-Frank station, volunteers from MWaste and Sunshine Recycling will help unload your vehicles and make sure these items are properly reduced, recycled, discarded or incinerated so they don’t end up contaminating our beautiful coastline and water-supply sources.

— Mollie Page

Naples

My debut

Editor, Daily News:

Last Thursday, for the first time in my life, I carried a sign in protest.

I am an ordinary citizen who is fed up with President Barack Obama and our Congress. The spending and taxation is out of control and must be stopped before our country goes bankrupt.

For the leftist Democrats to depict us as angry mobsters is the biggest mistake they will ever make. When the 2010 and 2012 elections roll around, you will see what change is all about.

All the damage they have done will be rolled back and fiscal sanity will prevail. The tea party movement will prove to be greatest single accomplishment in decades.

Next time politicians will listen.

— Diane Miranda

Naples

Logical extension

Editor, Daily News:

We use numbers to assess the health of so many things, from our personal health to our financial well-being. What about using numbers to assess the health of our waters?

We know many of the factors that lead to sick waters. We know, for example, that excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus contribute to toxic algae blooms that kill fish and cause respiratory problems in humans.

Yet when it comes to assessing whether we are approaching dangerous levels of nutrient pollution, we do not rely on numbers. Instead we rely on very subjective standards — “an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora and fauna.” We would never think of waiting until someone is in a diabetic coma to diagnosis diabetes, yet that is essentially what we have been doing when it comes to diagnosing nutrient pollution in our fresh water bodies.

The Environmental Protection Agency determined over 10 years ago that the current “imbalance” standard is unworkable and, after many years of scientific research, has proposed specific numeric nutrient criteria to evaluate the health of our fresh waters.

On Wednesday, Naples City Council votes on whether to send an official comment to the EPA opposing these proposed numeric criteria. Council members should not oppose these numeric criteria. They are appropriate and attainable. We need them now to accurately assess the health of our waters and thus protect our own health and quality of life.

— S.C. Ritas

Naples

Not just fiddling around

Editor, Daily News:

If you missed the Dueling Fiddlers last weekend in Naples, I’m sorry for your loss.

These two young men are talented beyond words. Not only can they play a mean violin but they have the personalities to match. Their shows were filled with such fun and enthusiasm, it was infectious.

Also, I learned they played for 13 different schools in the area as well as nightspots, parks and churches — all for the love of music and yes, all without charge.

I hope they return to Naples soon and are received warmly. They’re masters at what they do.

— Lynn Gaine

Naples

Selling our souls

Editor, Daily News:

I’d like to address the state’s recent gaming proposal with the position that gambling corrupts.

The potential billions of dollars involved in casino gambling may provide irresistible temptations for politicians. Government-condoned gambling and official corruption can be a tremendous drain on law-enforcement resources, encourage legislators to relax rules and hold down gambling taxes and can’t exist without being an attraction to crime.

Are casinos necessary, as some think, for the survival of our communities? Gambling is a business so rich, so fast, so powerful and perhaps inevitably so unsavory that it cannot help but undermine government. Practically nothing can make more casinos worth the risk.

Casinos by their nature run on human greed from every participant, and greed and honesty do not go hand and hand. Politicians drooling with envy at the big gambling bucks likely have short memories of the surrounding corruption that has preceded their expansion plans.

Inevitably, gambling is presented in a way to bolster government revenues to finance noble social objectives. But whether one’s measure is monetary or moral, state and local government eventually pay an immense price for gambling’s “something for nothing.”

— Dan Kennedy

Bonita Springs

The epitaph

Editor, Daily News:

The elite of the Polish Army in World War II are now followed in death by some of the best and brightest individuals within the present Polish leadership in an April 10 plane crash.

At least we are strengthened in the knowledge that they perished as they sought to bear witness to the reality of historical evil.

Even death cannot silence truth.

— Charles Purdy

Naples

Let there be public service

Editor, Daily News:

I wish to take this opportunity to thank those who saw to it that a light was finally installed at the intersection of Crayton Road and Seagate Drive:

Mayor Bill Barnett, Naples City Councilman Doug Finlay, Public Works Street and Traffic Department and Florida Power & Light.

What a difference a light makes!

— Merrill Kuller

Naples

Get real with representation

Editor, Daily News:

The question of whether a county commissioner represents the district he lives in or the whole county is an easy one to decide.

Lee County is approximately the size of the state of Rhode Island where there are two senators, numerous school boards and several members of Congress. Here, in Lee County, we have five district commissioners representing this vast area with no responsibility to anyone.

We need leaders who are accountable to voters in the district they allegedly represent.

— Walter William Booth

Fort Myers

Is race involved? Hmmm?

Editor, Daily News:

Re: Fred Scensny’s comments on Tiger Woods.

Scensny refers to numerous cases of illegal conduct (either against the law or rules of various leagues) in making the point that Woods should be disciplined by the PGA Tour.

However, he overlooks the point that Woods committed no crime (other than being fined $166 for hitting a fire hydrant with his car) in his infidelities. He broke no rules of his sport on the golf course, as was the case of baseball’s Mark McGwire or Pete Rose. He didn’t lie under oath. He didn’t gamble illegally. He didn’t commit a crime by hitting anyone, being arrested for DUI, using illegal drugs, etc.

This is not to say his conduct should be excused by his sponsors in deciding whether the total Woods package is what they want in representing their company. However, his actions are a private matter between him and his wife.

If you are disturbed by his conduct, don’t watch him either in person or on TV, don’t let your kids watch and don’t patronize his sponsors. But don’t expect the networks or his fellow pros to try to enforce your values. He makes them far too much money. Besides, many prior PGA players had similar reputations for infidelities with groupies, etc.

There never was the sense of moral outrage being now expressed by many (including the Master’s Billy Payne). Could it have something to do with putting the black guy in his place? Maybe, maybe not.

— Alan Buchholz

Naples

Could it be ... ?

Editor, Daily News:

Following President Barack Obama’s lead in bashing the Israeli leadership for construction of housing in Jerusalem after he publicly warned them not to, the mainstream media, and even Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, joined in, indicating that apparently every inch of land contested is illegally occupied by Israel and really belongs to those deserving Palestinians.

Could these possibly be the same Palestinians we all saw on TV celebrating and burning American flags following our 9/11 loss of 3,000 innocent Americans murdered by the radical Muslims they honored as martyrs?

In 1993 the Oslo Accords did call for the formation of a Palestinian state, but disputed boundaries were to be negotiated. The accords did not call for total capitulation by Israel.

History documents that Israel has been the victim of continual aggression by Muslim nations which made no secret of their desire to eradicate Israel. After they and the Palestinians suffered so many humiliating defeats (1948, 1949, 1967, etc.), a new strategy was required. The new approach appears to be, make the Palestinians the victims, Israel the bad guy. It also appears this is working.

Could it be that Israel not having any of the oil we need, and their adversaries having an abundance, be a factor? Could Israel’s oil-rich adversaries helping us continue our deficit spending binge by buying our debt be a factor? If so, God help us!

Our support of Israel is indisputably unacceptable to the majority of Muslim-dominated nations. Can our political leadership and the media really believe that turning against the Mideast’s only democracy and our ally, Israel, will bring about lasting peace in the Middle East?

Ignoring history has never been wise and has very dangerous potential for the United States we love.

— Ralph Melling

Naples

Do they really understand?

Editor, Daily News:

Neither pro-choice nor anti-choice supporters are pro-abortion. On this they agree.

Pro-choice supporters are pro-active about the issue of abortion by providing programs of comprehensive reproductive health education and complete information about contraception. Whenever possible, they want to prevent the circumstances causing women to choose abortions.

Pro-choice supporters want abortion to be available and safe, but rarely necessary.

Anti-choice people are passive in any effort to eliminate abortion. They object to the use of any contraceptive methods and oppose comprehensive reproductive health education.

That a large majority of anti-choice women quietly use contraceptive materials and that abstinence-only sex education is not effective are known facts; based on these facts, the logic of anti-choice followers escapes me completely.

Do the Ave Maria University students demonstrating outside Planned Parenthood fully understand what would happen if a law prohibiting safe legal abortion were instituted? Women had abortions long before Roe v. Wade. Those with enough money arranged secretly for safe abortions, while many poor women risked their lives or died from botched back-alley abortions.

I’ll join in offering a prayer to end most abortion, but for me that is not enough. While anti-choice folks are free to spend their time with demonstrations on Creech Road, I intend to continue my direct efforts and financial support of Planned Parenthood of Collier County. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood do more to prevent abortions than all the anti-choice demonstrators throughout the country.

— Fred Yarrington

Naples

‘Extraordinary legacy’

Editor, Daily News:

The community came together to celebrate the gift of the life of Bea Harper, who left an extraordinary legacy and touched the lives of so many. I represent an organization which truly would not exist today if it wasn’t for her tenacious spirit and tireless efforts.

Bea taught us through her remarkable contributions that vision, caring, love and tenacity all go hand in hand, and when they coalesce, great things happen. She cared deeply about children, in particular, children whose young lives were tragically altered due to abuse, abandonment or neglect.

Prior to the opening of Youth Haven’s emergency shelter more than 38 years ago, children who had been removed from their homes for their own protection frequently ended up in the county jail until a suitable foster home could be found or a safe relative located. When Bea heard about this, she vowed that not one more innocent child would ever find themselves in a cold jail on a cot, but rather in a safe, warm home where they could be nurtured and protected.

Bea, who at that time was president of the Naples Woman’s Club, called upon her friends — the late Circuit Court Judge Richard Stanley and Naples Star newspaper editor Judy DeTurk — to assist her in constructing such a home. In 1972, Youth Haven opened its doors, debt-free, and since that time has provided a home for thousands of young children.

We all loved Bea for all she did not only for Youth Haven, but for the countless number of children and families in our community whose lives she touched, and whose lives her vision and efforts will continue to enrich for generations to come.

— Ron McSwiney

Chief executive officer,

Youth Haven

Tone deaf

Editor, Daily News:

There is no way to adequately address the misinformation and distortions in Irene Ketover’s Daily News letter within the 250-word limit, so I’ll just respond to the tone.

For way too long, most of us have been treating politics as a team sport. If our team won, we were happy. Nothing else mattered. Never mind the fact our team cheated, displayed poor sportsmanship and tolerated outright criminals on its roster. They were our team!

That attitude leads to letters like Ketover’s, which blame everything on the other team.

The truth is, neither team represents the people. They only respond to special interests. And, almost without exception, what is good for special interests is bad for the rest of us.

As in sports, we credit or blame everything that happens on the team leader, our president. In truth, Congress is responsible for most of what happens. Only Congress can declare war, levy taxes, enact programs and spend our money. As voters, why do we give them a pass?

Enough is enough! For too long, I have neglected my duties as a citizen. It’s time to start paying a lot more attention to candidates’ character and much less to party. It’s time we start demanding that candidates give us reasons to vote for them rather than simply bashing opponents. And, above all, it’s time we demand honesty from our elected officials.

This year, let’s forget party politics. Let’s elect a Congress that will work for us — not for the special interests.

— David C. Wilcox

Naples

Very wrong way

Editor, Daily News:

President Barack Obama’s health-care bill passed. Every single Republican voted no. Now their cry is “repeal and replace.”

What is it they would replace it with?

The Republicans have published “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” which contains their plans. Perhaps their plan for Medicare is most telling.

Their Medicare plan is mostly generalities, but they did send the plan, with more detail, to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for “scoring.”

Here is what the CBO said in a letter dated Jan. 27 to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.

The plan proposes changing the eligibility for Medicare (gradually) to 69.5 years from the current 65. The plan would end Medicare in 2021 for new enrollees. They would receive a voucher for obtaining private insurance. The initial amount would be $5,900. It would increase with inflation, but the CBO estimated the increase would be 2.3 percent less per year than the expected health-cost inflation, which means that the voucher would be worth 25 percent less in 10 years.

The Republican road map would lead Medicare into a dead end.

The election is coming in November. We can let the Republicans know then what we think of their road map.

— Aaron Knott

Naples

P.S. — The “roadmap” would also privatize Social Security.

Above all else

Editor, Daily News:

While trying to get an e-mail address for Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, I noticed the following verbiage at the bottom of the city of Naples website:

“Ethics above all else — Service to others before self — Quality in all that we do.”

How ironic; I’m writing about the absurd situation that exists over the new councilman, Sam Saad III.

“Ethics above all else”? It’s bad enough we’re faced with a national government that epitomizes fraud, lying, hypocrisy, greed and overall a total void of values this country was built on. How sad; this is the world we are leaving our children.

Now we have a man who ran for council for a truly beautiful place to raise a family. How despicable it is that a man (Saad) should make such a mockery of the position of councilman through his actions over his driving suspension. That obviously is fact.

His inability to clearly state that he never made those alleged anti-Semitic statements — only that he didn’t remember saying them, not vehemently denying it — is pathetic. How an individual who supposedly has run for a local government office “to help his community” could possibly stay in that position, when a majority of the City Council voted to have him resign, again speaks volumes.

His arrogance is so unfortunate for himself and much more for the city of Naples. Can’t wait to hear that he’s giving a talk on “ethics” at a school.

— Warren Mattiello

Naples

Throwaway lines?

Editor, Daily News:

I have sat back and watched many things said by and about the tea party.

Much of it is hype and overblown sound bites that appear actually insane and out of touch with what most (I dare say) Americans think.

I have noticed, though, that it seems many a claimed tea party member are recycled Republicans: Newt Gingrinch, Sarah (the quitter) Palin, Dick Armey, to name a few.

A funny thought about being recycled — are not most recycled products someone else’s trash?

— Robert Jenkins

Naples

Taxing work remains

Editor, Daily News:

Re: Earned income tax credit.

As tax day came and went, we are very aware of how the tax code works to raise money.

We’re less aware the tax code helps low-income taxpayers make ends meet. The largest federal anti-poverty program for working families, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), was called by former President Ronald Reagan “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creations measure to come out of Congress.”

The EITC helps bridge the gap between low-wage earnings and the costs of meeting basic needs for over 22 million households, including 1,600,918 in Florida, thus preventing many from becoming homeless or jobless. It has been lauded by both Republicans and Democrats.

The impact of this program on poverty, especially child poverty, is huge. Nearly half of all families with children will claim EITC at some point. Since the EITC brings working families more financial stability, most need access to the program for only a couple of years before their earnings increase. This is a win for families as well as the national budget; as families leave the program and increase their earnings, they contribute more in taxes than they ever received in benefits.

Congress is considering major changes to tax policies. The improvements to this small program with a big impact must not be lost!

Contact your member of Congress, especially Sen. Bill Nelson of the Senate Finance and Budget committees, to ensure that we strengthen and protect the tax benefits that low-income working families sorely need, especially the EITC.

— Barbara Miller

Naples

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