Fire director and board
Your article about the Children's Board of Hillsborough County being in "chaos" on Friday is an affirmation that investigative journalism is essential in any community. It certainly helps to keep government agencies responsible and honest.
A salary for the executive director of the Children's Board of $171,000, plus perks, is exorbitant and irresponsible. Given the present economic atmosphere it is incredulous that an agency promoting social welfare would give its executive director such an astronomical salary.
Not only should the director be fired, but the board as well for allowing this situation.
Finally, I believe that the Children's Board operation should be changed so that it is held totally responsible to the tax-paying public. This is not the way to administer public monies.
James N. Holmes
Facts, then theory
Regarding "Australia's coal wealth holds lesson for U.S.," (Views, July 15):
Professor Edward Glaeser's column skewering the "drill, baby, drill" crowd overlooked a few inconvenient truths (to borrow from the inventor of the Internet). The mean average unemployment rate as owned up to by the government is 8.2 percent, though everyone with half a brain knows it is much higher than that. The mean average unemployment rate for the top five coal producing-states in the United States is 6.8 percent. The mean average unemployment rate for the top five oil-producing states in the country is 6.5 percent. Coincidence? I think not.
What you fail to realize is that commerce, no matter what the industry, produces ancillary benefits. The workers who toil in the oil fields and coal mines need groceries, autos, houses, dental work and Walmarts ad infinitum. You don't need to go to Australia to find out if drilling oil would be good for the country. Just go to North Dakota, where the unemployment rate is 3 percent, where construction companies can't build houses fast enough to keep up with demand, where the state economy is experiencing the boom of a lifetime and where the only problems they face are archaic government regulations for the energy industry.
Finally, I suggest that instead of trying to make the facts fit the theory, try looking at the facts first, then develop a theory.
Regarding "Blinded by the right" by Dick Batchelor (Other Views, July 12): This article is full of inaccuracies. I do not understand why the Orlando Sentinel or The Tampa Tribune did not impugn the validity of Batchelor's statements.
Batchelor refers to Gov. Rick Scott as "obstructing" and "denigrating" federal law, neither of which is accurate. The provision of the Affordable Care Act to mandate the states to expand Medicaid was specifically struck down by the Supreme Court recently. States can still choose to expand their Medicaid programs; however, they are not mandated to expand.
Furthermore, employment or the lack thereof has nothing to do with Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid eligibility has income and asset thresholds prior to qualifying or not.
The ACA does not affect current Medicaid funding. Eligible Medicaid beneficiaries will continue to be financed through a matching system between the states and the federal government that currently ranges from 50 percent to 74 percent of federal funding. If more Floridians qualify for Medicaid due to current Medicaid thresholds, Medicaid will automatically expand to those individuals who qualify. The article gives the impression that current recipients will be denied coverage if the state (Scott) chooses not the expand the current program. Small businesses do not directly pay for Medicaid. They pay indirectly, in the way of taxes or higher health insurance premiums. The ACA mandating coverage for all will result in either paying more for health care premiums or paying the extra tax for not providing it. Whether right, center or left, it's that simple, This article is disingenuous.
I guess we need to send Dick Batchelor back to Econ 101 since he incorrectly postulates that Medicaid is not paid for by small businesses. Medicaid is paid for by taxes — our taxes. Aside from income tax, there are the hidden taxes, such as sales tax. When you consider hidden taxes, the less you earn the more you pay, especially individuals. For example, if you earn just $10 per hour, then you probably spend every dollar you earn; therefore, your tax rate is 100 percent. If you are upper-middle class — let's face it, there is no more middle class — and you save 10 percent of your income, then your tax rate is only 90 percent. And if you are uber-rich and manage to save and invest most of your income, then you pay tax only on the 2 percent you need to live on.
Hidden taxes are everywhere, and they represent the largest percentage in the least expensive items. I like to use a doormat and a laptop as examples. The smallest doormat and the largest, most expensive laptop weigh about the same and have similar dimensions. Therefore, shipping costs are about the same for each item. But since the doormat sells for $2 to $3 and the laptop for much more, the percentage of hidden tax is much greater on the doormat. Poor people probably buy a lot more doormats then laptops.
This sliding scale is the same for small businesses verses large companies, only multiplied! The percentage of taxes paid by large corporations is nothing compared to the taxes, especially hidden taxes, paid by small business. For example, the lawn service guy does not get a tax break for his vehicle, equipment, the gas he uses or his insurance. Large companies sit back and get tax breaks for all of this and more. The percentage difference is staggering.